Indy Lights – The Year of the Veterans
The 2014 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship is underway and has it’s first two races are in the books. The series started with a increase in participants over the last season with a total of twelve entrants at both of the opening street races. I know it’s not a large of a field as we’d like to see, but it’s an improvement over the single-digit fields of last season. As usual, there are a number of European drivers coming over from the multitude of formula series that abound, some recruits from South America, some graduates of the Mazda Road to Indy, and some veterans. Let’s take a look at the current grid.
|Zach Veach||USA||IndyLights||26||Andretti Autosport|
|Matthew Brabham||USA||ProMazda||83||Andretti Autosport|
|Alexandre Baron||France||Formula Renault 2.0 / USF2000||4||Belardi Auto Racing|
|Gabby Chaves||Columbia||Indy Lights||5||Belardi Auto Racing|
|Lloyd Read||UK||Pro Mazda||28||Bryan Herta Autosport|
|Scott Anderson||USA||Pro Mazda||24||Jeffrey Mark Motorsport|
|Luiz Razia||Brazil||GP2 / International GT||7||Fan Force United|
|Juan Pablo García||Mexico||Indy Lights||10||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|Jack Harvey||UK||GP3||42||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|Juan Piedrahita||Columbia||Pro Mazda||77||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|Zack Meyer||Canada||Pro Mazda||2||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|Vittorio Ghirelli||Italy||GP2 / Auto GP World Series||22||Team Moore Racing|
Normally, we’d see a rookie signed by Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, or two, duking it out for race wins and the overall championship. Afterall, that’s how the championship has played out for the past four seasons, a SPM rookie battles his teammates and wins the championship. That’s not a condemnation, that just the fact of the matter, so this year when SPM announced their line-up, I thought that this might be the right season for another team to step up and offer a serious challenge. It’s not that the current quartet of SPM divers aren’t capable drivers. They certainly are, but with the exception of Jack Harvey, the team doesn’t have anyone that is ready to offer a continuous challenge race after race.
At Long Beach, the roles were reversed between Zach and Gabby. Although Veach would take the pole, Chaves would take over the lead on Lap 1 and retain that lead for the remainder of the race. Veach remained close finishing a few tenths behind Chaves for a P2 finish. Meanwhile, Matthew Brabham whom everyone acknowledges is a serious talent, I mean how can you not after his performance in USF2000 and Pro Mazda, finished over three seconds behind the veteran pair. The next finisher, Jack Harvey in P4, was a full 27.5 seconds behind Chaves, well back of the lead group.