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Indy Lights set for Phoenix test with increased field, up to 16 cars

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Just three years ago, the Indy Lights series had an old car and only an eight-car grid for selected oval races.

Ahead of Thursday’s single-day test at Phoenix International Raceway, that field has doubled to 16 in the second year of the new Dallara IL-15 Mazda chassis, now on Cooper Tires, for the series now called the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

Here’s the series release below, with the entry list linked here.

Interest in the revitalized Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires continues to gather pace in advance of the new season which commences next month in St. Petersburg, Fla. A high-quality field of 16 drivers representing 10 nations and no fewer than four different continents are set to convene tomorrow, Thursday, February 25, at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., for a one-day test session as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series “Test in the West”. All are anxious to gain some experience on the tricky one-mile oval which will host its first Indy Lights race since 2005 on April 2.

Indy Lights represents the third and final rung on the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder, which provides Mazda scholarships for drivers to graduate from karting via the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires to Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series.

This year’s competitors will be seeking to follow in the footsteps of Spencer Pigot. The American rising star has won a total of four Mazda scholarships, including a scholarship valued at $1 million for winning last year’s Indy Lights title. Pigot is scheduled to make his IndyCar debut in the opening race of the season at St. Petersburg on March 13, and will contest at least two more events, including the historic 100th Indianapolis 500.

The Indy Lights field contains an impressive mix of veterans and rookies. Among those with prior experience are Zach Veach, from Stockdale, Ohio, who will make his return to the series with Belardi Auto Racing after finishing third in the 2014 title-chase; Dubai-based Englishman Ed Jones (Carlin), who finished third in his rookie campaign in 2015; Carlin teammate Felix Serralles, from Ponce, Puerto Rico, the winner last year on the flat Milwaukee Mile oval; Florida teenager RC Enerson (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb Agajanian), who won last year at Mid-Ohio; and 2015 podium finishers Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport), from Nashville, Tenn., Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing), from Santa Clara, Calif., and Juan Piedrahita (Team Pelfrey) from Bogota, Colombia.

A talented crop of rookies will include Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist (Belardi Auto Racing), the reigning FIA European Formula 3 Champion and two-time winner of the prestigious Macau Grand Prix; Englishman Dean Stoneman (Andretti Autosport), formerly a champion in FIA Formula 2 and runner-up in the 2014 GP3 Series; GP2 Series veteran Andre Negrao (Schmidt Peterson), from Sao Paulo, Brazil; 2015 Pro Mazda champion Santiago Urrutia, from Miguelete, Uruguay, who will take his Mazda Scholarship to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian; Californian Neil Alberico (Carlin), who finished second in last year’s Pro Mazda championship with four victories; fellow Pro Mazda graduate Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport), from Toronto, Ont., Canada; 2013 USF2000 champion and 2014 Pro Mazda runner-up Scott Hargrove, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, who joins Team Pelfrey after tasting the waters with a couple of outings in 2015; Korean Heamin Choi (Schmidt Peterson), who made two starts in the 2015 season finale; and Formula Renault 2.0 graduate Zachary Claman De Melo (Juncos Racing) of Montreal, Canada.

Following tomorrow’s test at PIR, the Indy Lights teams will join the remainder of the Mazda Road to Indy competitors for a Spring Training open test at Barber Motorsports Park on March 5 (Indy Lights) and 6/7 (USF2000/Pro Mazda). The 18-race 2016 season will kick off less than one week later with a double-header on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 11-13 in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.