Zachary Claman DeMelo wins Indy Lights race

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Zachary Claman DeMelo dominated Saturday afternoon to win the first of two Indy Lights races this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg.

Toby Sowery finished second in the season opener, followed by Oliver Askew, David Malukas and Rinus VeeKay.

Claman DeMelo started on the pole position and led all 35 laps.

““That was a great welcome back party,” the Montreal native said. “I’m really happy for Belardi. I know last year didn’t always go their way so I’m happy to get the win for them. We pushed really hard in the beginning, so the car dropped off a bit toward the end.

“Toby was right there, and in his first street race, so he’ll be one to keep an eye on. I was happy to take the checkered flag but my immediate thought was how to make it 2-for-2 (Sunday).”

Claman DeMelo returned to Indy Lights full time this season after running nine races (including the Indianapolis 500) last season in IndyCar. This was the second career win in Indy Lights for the Montreal native.

The Indy Lights Series will return for its second race at 10:05 a.m. ET Sunday.

Click here for results from Saturday’s Indy Lights race.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
Chris Owens/IndyCar
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”