Indy Lights notes: Juncos leads oval test, Chilton digs ovals, Piedrahita confirmed

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There have been several Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires bits of news over the last week. Here were the recaps of road course testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway (day one, day two), but oval testing followed on Thursday.

JUNCOS LEADS OVAL TESTING

Juncos Racing led a tightly packed timesheets in the Indy Lights’ first official oval test day on the HMS 1.5-mile oval, converted to its normal layout rather than the road course. Nine tenths of a second covered the 11-car field, even as the teams experimented with different setups.

Kyle Kaiser and Spencer Pigot – Juncos’ pair of rookies – led the combined lap times with Kaiser posting a best lap of 188.851 mph.

“The team continues to demonstrate their ability to adapt to this new car,” Kaiser said. “It’s still early and there is a lot of work ahead, but we are making steady progress. It was my first time driving on an oval at this speed and the team gave me the perfect car to make the transition seamless. I’m looking forward to NOLA in a few weeks to continue our development.”

Times are linked here.

CHILTON, CARLIN WELCOMED – AND THEY DIG OVALS

Max Chilton’s presence at the test this week was something of a big deal. The former Marussia F1 driver is a relative big fish in a small pond in the Lights field, and with he and Carlin Racing present, it adds two further degrees of legitimacy to the championship.

Chilton spoke highly of the experience and posted a couple tweets from his opening oval experience.

Team boss Trevor Carlin praised the American culture after a successful first week of testing for both Chilton and the team’s first confirmed driver, Ed Jones.

SCHMIDT PRAISES ANDERSON AFTER HIS FIRST SPM TEST

Scott Anderson missed the Palm Beach test while news of his deal with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was yet to be confirmed. But Homestead marked his first week on board, and his presence solidified SPM’s effort for 2015.

“Testing is even more productive now that to our Indy Lights team is solidified,” SPM co-owner Sam Schmidt said. “Scott Anderson completing our driver lineup is helpful because he can contribute and adds another voice to the equation. We’ve put the pieces of the puzzle in place, which now allows us to focus on racing.”

PIEDRAHITA OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED

Belardi Auto Racing confirmed Juan Piedrahita last week as second driver alongside Felix Serralles. The Colombian raced with SPM in 2014, and also has past experience on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder in both Pro Mazda and USF2000.

“I’m very grateful that Brian Belardi has given me this opportunity, and it looks like I have some big shoes to fill, those of my friend, Gabby Chaves,” Piedrahita said. “In regards to the new Dallara, I can’t wait to drive it. The new car is very similar to the DW12 and it will help us in preparation for the next step.”

Piedrahita tested on both the road course and oval last week, although 2012 Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier filled in for a day on the second day on the road course to help evaluate the team’s progress. While Piedrahita is a veteran, Serralles will be a rookie in 2015.

With tree in tow, Robert Wickens is already in the Christmas spirit

Robert Wickens' official Twitter page
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It may be a week before Thanksgiving, but IndyCar driver Robert Wickens is already obviously in a festive Christmas mood.

Wickens took to Twitter and Instagram Wednesday to post a video showing he just gave himself an early yuletide present: a Christmas tree:

“Got myself a tree! I figured it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit! It’s a very real tree and my arms are itchy to prove it!”

He even ended his tweet with a Christmas tree emoji.

And for good measure, Wickens — wearing a winter ski cap with his name on it — and some of the staff at his rehab facility broke into an impromptu version of “Oh, Christmas Tree!”

Check out what Wickens posted and enjoy a little early Christmas cheer sure to put a smile on your face: