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PREVIEW: Indy Lights Grand Prix of Road America

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After a photo finish to the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires will be back in action on June 22 and 23 at Road America for their eighth and ninth events of the 2019 season.

With his third victory of the season in the Freedom 100, Oliver Askew enters the weekend with a 11-point advantage over Rinus Veekay in the standings. The Andretti Autosport has shown speed on the road courses this year, sweeping the weekend at the Circuit of the Americas. However, he did not perform well at Road America last year in Indy Pro 2000 with finishes of ninth and eighth.

Another battle between Andretti Autosport and Juncos Racing would not surprise anyone, as they split the race victories last year. Expect Veekay to be fast this weekend after a third-place finish in the Freedom 100 for his fifth podium of 2019. The 2018 Indy Pro 2000 Champion was also solid at Road America last year, with a pair of fifth-place finishes.

Across the grid, only four drivers entered into the event have previously raced at Road America.

Zachary Claman De Melo did not get to run the Freedom 100 for Belardi Auto Racing, and will certainly be looking to put that behind him with a victory at Road America. Of the four drivers, he has the best average finish (5.0) following a victory last season with Carlin Racing. He has also been fast this year, winning the season opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

His teammate Aaron Telitz is another driver to watch, with three top-five’s in four Indy Lights Road America starts, including a track-best third last season. In his first Indy Lights start of the 2019 season, he scored a ninth-place finish in the Freedom 100.

Ryan Norman hopes to be in victory lane this weekend, after coming up just shy of beating his Andretti Autosport teammate in the Freedom 100 for his first podium of the season. In four previous Indy Lights starts at Road America, he has scored a pair of top-five’s, with a track-best fourth in 2017.

His teammate Robert Megennis is another driver to watch, with his eighth-place finish in the Freedom 100 marking just his second finish outside of the top-five this season. He has been fast on the road courses, winning the first Indianapolis Grand Prix ahead of the oval event. Historically, though, Road America has not been his best track with finishes of 10th and eighth in the pair of Indy Pro 2000 events last season.

BN Racing hopes to join the conversation, as well, following Toby Sowery’s fourth-place finish in the Freedom 100. He has only finished outside of the top-five twice this season, including a season-best second in the season opener at St. Petersburg. Last year, he ran well at Road America in Indy Pro 2000, scoring a runner-up in both events.

Ironically, it was his current teammate David Malukas beating on both occasions for the victory. Malukas needs a good run this weekend, after crashing out of the Freedom 100 to finish last. Prior to that event, he had scored three top-five’s, including a podium in Austin, Texas.

Dalton Kellett enters this weekend coming off his best performance of the season, with a fifth-place finish in the Freedom 100. The Juncos Racing driver has ran six previous Indy Lights events at Road America, scoring four top-10’s, with a track-best sixth last season.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin is currently studying journalism at the University of Guelph-Humber while writing for multiple websites. She also serves on the managing staff for a select few. Born in North York, Ontario, McCubbin currently lives in Bradford, Ontario and spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area where she enjoys taking photos and working on websites.

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