Separate Indy Lights moves see Dempsey out, Daly in for Houston

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There’s a pair of changes for the Firestone Indy Lights Series next weekend at Houston, the penultimate round of their championship.

The unfortunate news first: Peter Dempsey, the popular and eternally snakebit Irishman, has yet again found himself a victim of circumstances. He and the Belardi Auto Racing team announced a lack of funding to get him through the final two races of the season.

“It’s very disappointing to not be in a position to finish out the championship with Belardi Auto Racing,” Dempsey said in a team release.  “However, I do fully understand the unfortunate reasons for their decision.  Motorsport is an expensive sport and things like this happen all the time.  I’ve really enjoyed the last year with the team.  Brian [Belardi] gave me the biggest opportunity anyone has ever given me, and that’s something I will never forget.”

Dempsey’s fourth-to-first last lap move in the Firestone Freedom 100 was his and Belardi’s first career win in Indy Lights, and a highlight for the finish of the year in racing. He stands fifth in points, 35 behind series leader Sage Karam.

Meanwhile, one of the most versatile drivers of the 2013 season, Conor Daly, will make his return to Indy Lights for the Houston weekend. He’ll drive the No. 22 TMR-RUS INDUSTRIAL-ALS ASSOCIATION entry for Team Moore Racing; Mark Moore’s squad returns to the track after withdrawing at Baltimore with then-driver Juan Pablo Garcia.

“I’m very excited to get in a Lights car with Team Moore Racing,” said Daly, who won the Long Beach Indy Lights race in 2011, his only year in the series. “They’re prepared at a high level and I can’t wait to get on the street course in Houston. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the car, but I am confident we can get up to speed quickly. I’ve known Mark for a long time and I’m glad we could put something together.”

Daly has raced the Indianapolis 500, GP2, GP3 and the MRF Challenge championships this year.

IMSA’s Bill Auberlen joins NASCAR America to discuss this weekend’s race at Lime Rock

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Turner Motorsport GTD driver Bill Auberlen joined NBC Sports’ Marty Snyder on NASCAR America Presents the Motorsports Hour Thursday to discuss a variety of topics, including Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship race at Lime Rock Park.

Auberlen, alongside co-driver Robby Foley, enters Lime Rock with a great amount of momentum after finishing on the GTD podium at Watkins Glen and taking the GTD class honors in the most recent IMSA race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

There’s also an extra incentive for the duo to win this weekend as well, as Auberlen is one win away from tying Scott Pruett for the most IMSA victories all-time.

Both drivers will have to be on their A-game this weekend, however, as Auberlen stated that Lime Rock is one of the tougher circuits on the IMSA calendar and compared the 1.5-mile Connecticut road course to a short track.

“It’s what we call the bullring of our season,” Auberlen said. “It is a 54-second lap and we’re going to go around it a million times before the end of the day. It’s going to be a hot one, and I think whoever survives this is going to be on the podium.”

Luckily for the GTD and GTLM teams, with no Protoype and LMP2 entries competing at Lime Rock this weekend, the worry of having to yield to entries from the faster classes is gone.

“These Protoypes are so fast now, that interacting with them, you can’t imagine,” Auberlen said. “We have radars in our car that can alert us when they are coming.

“They get on you so fast that if you’re not always looking or something is not telling you they’re coming, you could have a problem and catch into them. That’s gone. Now it’s going to be focus-forward. You’re going to be focused on everything ahead of you. You got GLTM in there at the same time, but they’re virtually the same speed as us – just a little bit faster.

“It’s going to be nice. When you stand on that podium you might be able to go for an overall victory.”

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