Tuesday was one of the most memorable days of rookie IndyCar driver Zachary Claman Demelo’s racing career.
In the morning, the Canadian native was named by Dale Coyne Racing to replace the injured Pietro Fittipaldi in the No. 19 Paysafe Honda in its bid to make the May 27th 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Fittipaldi suffered a fractured left leg May 4 at Spa in Belgium and will be sidelined for at least eight weeks.
Then in the afternoon, Demelo easily passed his final rookie orientation test for the 500, with the fastest speed of his group (220.852 mph). This is the first oval that Demelo will compete upon in his IndyCar career (although he finished sixth at IMS in last year’s Indy Lights race there).
Now, Demelo – who finished 12th in Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix – will bid to become one of the 33 drivers to make the final 500 race field in this weekend’s qualifying. Two of the 35 drivers that will attempt to qualify will not make the race.
“Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an iconic venue and I’m extremely fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to drive here,” Demelo said after Tuesday morning’s announcement. “It’s unfortunate that it’s under these circumstances with Pietro’s injuries, so I realize how lucky I am to have this chance.”