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Carlin adds Claman De Melo to Indy Lights lineup

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Zachary Claman De Melo is the third confirmed driver at Carlin’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires program, with the Canadian moving over from Juncos Racing.

It ends an interesting offseason of speculation for the teenager, who tested with Carlin at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test, was linked to a move to Europe with the team before Carlin’s GP2 program ended, and now sees him in a Carlin car anyway. He also raced the Rolex 24 at Daytona with DAC Motorsports in a Lamborghini Huracán GT3, and finished 13th in the GT Daytona class.

Compared to teammates Garth Rickards and Matheus Leist, Claman De Melo will be the only one of these three drivers entering his sophomore season in the championship. The team has been rumored to expand to four cars, and such an expansion would all but ensure a landing spot for Rising Star Racing-supported American Neil Alberico ahead of a potential sophomore season.

Claman De Melo was quick and had a couple top-five finishes during a learning year in Indy Lights, and should be a little more consistent this year.

“We are very happy to have Zach join the team for 2017,” Trevor Carlin said in a release. “We’ve worked very successfully with Zach before and I think together we’ll get some great results this year.  It will be a tough field I think this season in Indy Lights, with some very strong/returning drivers and some quick rookies, but we’re putting together a strong package and are looking forward to getting on track at St Pete.”

He’s the 12th confirmed driver for Indy Lights this season, with the likelihood of two to three more still set to be revealed.

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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