Carlin confirms Nelson Piquet Jr. to make Indy Lights debut in Toronto

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While Max Chilton is racing in Le Mans this week, making his FIA World Endurance Championship debut as the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO he’s racing makes its race debut, Nelson Piquet Jr. will fill in for him at Carlin in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race in Toronto. Carlin confirmed the news on Monday.

This will add Indy Lights to Piquet’s ever-expanding resume, both all-time and this year. The Dallara IL15-Mazda joins his HYDROXYCUT SH Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST in Red Bull Global Rallycross and NEXTEV Team China Racing Spark_01E Renault in the FIA Formula E Championship as machinery he has driven this year.

“I’m really looking forward to my Indy Lights debut with Carlin,” Piquet said in a team release. “I’ve been competing in a broad range of racing over the past few years and this will be another new experience for me. I love open wheel racing but haven’t yet tried it in a U.S.-based series, so Toronto is going to be interesting. I can’t wait to get in the car and see what we can do.”

Trevor Carlin added, “In Max’s absence we wanted another strong driver to help push the team forward. We know that despite having no experience of the Indy Lights car, Nelson will push to the maximum from the start and that’s what we’re looking for this weekend.

“We’ve known Nelson since racing against him when he became British F3 Champion in 2004 and have seen many times since then his outright pace. He’s shown in Formula E he’s a master of street circuits and I’m excited to see what he and Ed can achieve together this weekend.”

Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

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Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”