8Star closing on Indy Lights confirmation with Sean Rayhall as one driver

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AUSTIN, Texas – After 8Star Motorsports announced its intentions to run in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the team is close to a decision to determine whether it will pull the trigger.

Team principal Enzo Potolicchio has meetings this weekend in anticipation of a decision next week, as the team plans to place a deposit on two of the new Dallara IL15 chassis.

One of the cars would be for rising American star Sean Rayhall, who currently serves as one of 8Star’s drivers in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge class (with Luis Diaz for sprint races).

“We didn’t want to join before because of the old car, as it was due to be changed,” Potolicchio told MotorSportsTalk. “We were very excited, it’s an attractive package and the AER engine looks nice and reliable. We want to come in now and there’s a new baseline. We have IndyCar experience from our team manager (Gary Neal) and engineer (Yves Touron), so we know what we need to do be competitive. We’re working with one driver really hard to support him as the next American superstar. He can be a title contender. We really believe in him.”

Potolicchio was at last week’s Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway observing the new Indy Lights car in action.

“We registered as a team, we were at Indy looking at the test. Very excited,” he said. “Next week we will make a decision after meetings. A lot of interest. We’ve been approached with a lot of people. We can do the job and be competitive. Good name, good brand in sports cars.”

An Indy Lights program would be the first of a multifaceted open-wheel platform the team looks to develop in the coming years.

“We had to align some other things and make a decision next week and place a deposit. Likely 15 (cars) first race but there’s a lot of work and lot of development to be done. No weather issues, close tracks in Florida so we can test the right way,” he said.

“To be a successful team we can’t concentrate on just one series. We need multiple, and we need to do IndyCar and Indy Lights. We want to be in Indy 500 eventually and Indy Lights is the first step.”

8Star Motorsports plans to continue in the TUDOR Championship with a customer Prototype Challenge program and a potential P2-spec car to run in Prototypes.

As for Rayhall, running in Indy Lights would be a return to his roots.

“There’s meetings and steps in the right direction to do Indy Lights, with long races in the NAEC,” he said. “It would be a return to my roots after Skip Barber, there’s guys like Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly that I know.

“It’s just taken the right people and the right funding to make it happen. Now I have that with Enzo and 8Star,” he added. “I had to take a stock car detour but I want to get back into it. I’m pushing hard to make it happen with the people around me.”

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.