Friday’s Freedom 100 for the Firestone Indy Lights (Noon ET, NBC Sports Network) will feature only 11 cars on the starting grid, but there’s still racing’s ultimate form of bragging rights on the line: Victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Headlining the Freedom 100 field is Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz (pictured), who is also on the front row for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 in a fifth Andretti car. Munoz currently leads the FIL points and will seek to become the fourth driver to compete in both the 100 and the 500 on the same weekend (Sebastian Saavedra, Marty Roth, Jeff Simmons).
But Munoz will likely have to go through the four Schmidt Peterson Motorsports drivers — Gabby Chaves, Sage Karam, Jack Hawksworth and Indiana’s own Kyle O’Gara — in order to win his first race of the weekend. Sam Schmidt’s FIL operation is the series’ resident dynasty, and in the Freedom 100, the team has won an astonishing seven times with six different drivers since the race’s inception in 2003.
It will be interesting to see how the six rookie drivers in the field fare against the world-famous Brickyard. Lights drivers and teams will only have one day of practice and qualifying tomorrow before going into the 40-lap race on Friday for Carb Day. All six rookies are making their first start at Indy, and O’Gara and fellow Hoosier Jimmy Simpson are making their first Lights start altogether.
Also in the field is Chase Austin, who was announced last year as the driver for a second A.J. Foyt Racing machine in this year’s “500.” That ride did not pan out due to a lack of funds, but Austin is still here at the Brickyard for a third consecutive year.
FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100
2-Juan Pablo Garcia, Team Moore Racing
4-Jorge Goncalvez, Belardi Auto Racing
5-Peter Dempsey, Belardi Auto Racing
7-Gabby Chaves, Schmidt Peterson w/Curb-Agajanian
8-Sage Karam, Schmidt Peterson w/Curb-Agajanian
12-Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport
22-Jimmy Simpson, Team Moore Racing
26-Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport
28-Chase Austin, Jeffrey Mark Motorsport/BHA w/Curb-Agajanian
67-Kyle O’Gara, Schmidt Peterson w/Curb-Agajanian
77-Jack Hawksworth, Schmidt Peterson w/Curb-Agajanian