Unofficial “trade” sees Dempsey, Garcia change Indy Lights rides

Dempsey (leading) and Garcia (trailing) trade rides. (IndyCar photo)
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There’s been a driver exchange in the Firestone Indy Lights Series for Houston, although not one that goes down as an “official trade.”

Peter Dempsey and Juan Pablo Garcia will both be racing at Houston after all, in the seat occupied by the other the first 10 races this season.

Dempsey moves into the No. 2 Team Moore Racing entry, with support from TMR/Global Tubing/ALS Association. He had been replaced at Belardi Auto Racing when funding failed to develop to support him for the last two races.

“Team Moore Racing is giving me the opportunity to keep my title fight alive, and for that, I will always be thankful,” Dempsey said in a release. “I’d really like to thank all of my team sponsors along with my personal sponsors for making this all come together.”

He enters the weekend fifth in points and still with a remote shot at the championship, at 35 points behind leader Sage Karam. His teammate this weekend will be Conor Daly in the No. 22 car.

Garcia, meanwhile, takes over Dempsey’s seat at Belardi for the final two races at Houston and Fontana. He will race the No. 5 International/Mapfre/Euclid Chemical/TVC + Latino/AutoShow TV/Belardi Auto Racing entry, the team’s third car alongside teammates Jorge Goncalvez and Giancarlo Serenelli. Garcia ranks eighth in points this season.

A season-high 12 cars are entered with the eight full-season cars (three Schmidt, two Andretti, two Belardi, No. 2 Moore) plus Serenelli (No. 6 Belardi), Daly (No. 22 Moore), Axcil Jefferies (No. 28 BHA) and Matthew Di Leo (No. 56 MDL) also racing the streets of Houston.

Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.