Jamin with Andretti's Rob Edwards. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Four Indy Lights drivers set to test IndyCars at Road America

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The first round of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires drivers testing in the Verizon IndyCar Series for 2017 will take place tomorrow at Road America, Andretti Autosport has confirmed on Tuesday.

Two of the team’s four Indy Lights drivers, Nico Jamin and Dalton Kellett, will be in two of the team’s IndyCars for their first runs this season.

In Jamin’s case, the Frenchman adds his maiden IndyCar test to his resume in a year where he’s won races in all of Indy Lights, IMSA Prototype Challenge in a Ligier JS P3 car, and Pirelli World Challenge GTS in a KTM X-BOW GT4.

Kellett, the Indy Lights sophomore, will have his second day in an IndyCar after testing last fall at Watkins Glen for the first time.

They’ll be joined by Carlin Indy Lights driver Matheus Leist, the Brazilian who won the Freedom 100 last month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Leist won last year’s British F3 title and like Jamin, will have his first run in an IndyCar.

The tests run alongside a current Verizon IndyCar Series driver, in this case Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, as part of INDYCAR’s rule that allows for rookie test days for Indy Lights drivers (Rule 6.5.4.1).

Kellett will take over Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 DHL Honda, Jamin Andretti’s 27 Honda and Leist Rossi’s No. 98 Honda.

Kellett. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

“Coming back for a second test in an Indy car is exciting,” said Kellett. “I can’t wait to get back on track. I intend to build on what I learned at the Watkins Glen test last year and I’m very thankful for this opportunity from Andretti Autosport. It’s one of the amazing parts of this program, getting a chance like this to test in the Dallara IR-12 at Road America. I’m honored to work with Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and the rest of the No. 28 crew – being able to use this experience as a guide will be a valuable asset during the test. The overall goal of this test is to create a learning opportunity that I can use as a stepping stone in the future.”

Jamin said of his first test, “I am extremely thankful and excited to have the opportunity to test an Indy car for the first time. As a driver in Mazda Road to Indy, it is something I have been looking forward to for the last four years, and I am only a few days away from it now. I definitely feel ready for the challenge, and I’m looking forward to learning as much as possible and making it a great experience. it will be really cool to drive the bigger sister of my No. 27, and to share the car with Marco [Andretti].”

Leist. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Leist added of his, “I’m really looking forward to the testing and Indy car with Andretti Autosport. This is going to be a mega opportunity for me. It has been a dream since I was young to drive an Indy car. Hope to have fun and learn as much as I can from the team.”

Besides these three, fellow Indy Lights driver Zachary Claman De Melo will test again for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, as he did last year at Mid-Ohio. He’ll share the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda with James Hinchcliffe.

Dale Coyne Racing, following a thrash and rebuild, are also expected to test.

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

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