Indy Lights

Six Rookies Among Indy Lights Chris Griffis Memorial Test Competitors

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Following a competitive season which saw seven different drivers score a victory, anticipation is high for what’s to come for the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.

The Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend serves as a preview of possibly who will be in what ride for the upcoming year. With six rookies making up the entry sheet, it promises to be exciting.

Team Pelfry: TJ Fischer, Pato O’Ward

T.J. Fischer finished fourth in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires standings in his first full year of competition, with five podium finishes despite not reaching victory lane with Team Pelfry.

Pato O’Ward spent last season competing in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) with Performance Tech Motorsports in the PC class. O’Ward and his teammates won the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in the PC class. Prior to that, though, O’Ward placed second in the Pro Mazda standings in 2016, and ran four Indy Lights races last season with a season-best third at St. Petersburg for Team Pelfry.

Belardi Auto Racing: Rinus Veekay, Nico Jamin, TBA

Rinus Veekay placed second in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda last year in his first season, with three wins and 12 podiums, driving for Pabst Racing. He may lean on Jamin for advice as Jamin finished seventh in the Indy Lights standings last year with three victories, driving for Andretti Autosport.

Juncos Racing: Hermain Choi, Victor Franzoni, Nicolas Dapero, Carlos Cunha

Hermain Choi makes his return to Indy Lights after sitting out last season; he scored a career-best 10th at Iowa Speedway in his previous seven starts in 2015 and 2016.

2017 Pro Mazda Champion Victor Franzoni sticks with Juncos, but will utilize the scholarship to move up to the next step of the Mazda Road to Indy, as he took home the title following seven wins and 12 podiums last year.

The third entry will be shared between two drivers as Nicolas Dapero will drive on Day 1, with Carlos Cunha behind the wheel on the second day. Dapero drove for Juncos last year in Indy Lights, placing 13th in points with just one top-five finish. Meanwhile, Cunha finished third in the Pro Mazda standings last year for Team Pelfry with six podiums.

Andretti Autosport: Anthony Martin, Dalton Kellett, Ryan Norman

Driving for Cape Motorsports with the Mazda Red Soul livery after winning the USF2000 Championship in 2016, Anthony Martin placed second in Pro Mazda points, with five wins and 11 podiums.

Dalton Kellett finished 12th in the Indy Lights standings driving for Andretti with two podiums. It marked his second full year in the series after placing 10th in points the year.

In his rookie season, Ryan Norman placed 11th in the Indy Lights points with Andretti, scoring a season-best fourth at Road America.

Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing: Colton Herta

In a partnership between Andretti Autosport and George Michael Steinbrenner IV, rookie Colton Herta finished third in Indy Lights points with two wins and seven podiums.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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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