Buddy Lazier will make his return to the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in four years. The 1996 race champion will be entered in the No. 91 Lazier Partners Racing Chevrolet, the ex-Fan Force United chassis of a year ago. In the official release, no alignment with an existing team was named.
Lazier last attempted to qualify in 2009 with Hemelgarn Racing but missed the field. In 2008, he dragged a car that had no business being in the field to a qualifying position in one of the more memorable Bump Day runs in recent memory.
In 16 starts at the Speedway, Lazier has five top-five finishes. He finished 17th in 2008 and ended in fifth in a Panther Racing-entered car in 2005, his last top-10 finish in the race.
“This all happened roughly 10 days ago and we’re literally putting everything together now,” said Lazier, 45. “Sponsors are coming by the day, but we’re all heading to Indianapolis to get it done. When I was 19 years old I was trying to pass my rookie test in a machinist’s union car that was given to us with an all-voluntary crew. So I’ve done it where it’s last minute and I’ve been there with some of the best teams of their era.”
The move pushes the field to 33 confirmed car and driver combinations, with a 34th car, a second Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, unlikely to run.
One of the Road to Indy’s most talented young drivers will climb another step up the development system ladder this season.
Kyle Kirkwood, the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion, has signed a contract to race for Andretti Autosport in the 2020 Indy Lights season. Kirkwood will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.
A native of Jupiter, Florida, 21-year-old Kirkwood has been incredibly successful in junior formulas over the last few years. He won the F4 US Championship 2017 and won both the F3 Americas and USF2000 titles in 2018.
Driving for RP Motorsport Racing, Kirkwood won 9 of 16 races in his maiden Indy Pro 2000 season last year, allowing him to win his fourth championship in three years and earn the Road to Indy scholarship.
“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” Andretti Autosport CEO and Chairman Michael Andretti said. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”
Kirkwood previously drove for Andretti in a two-day test session at Sebring International Raceway in December. He will make his official debut for the team in the season-opening doubleheader at St. Petersburg on March 14-15.
“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” Kirkwood said. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020.
“We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”
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