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.

INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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