Indy Lights – St. Pete Entry List and Preview

Not too long ago, we were looking at a mere seven confirmed car-driver combinations for the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights grid. When we talked with the King of the Mazda Road to Indy, Jason Penix, he reassured us that there would be at least 16 cars by time the first race on the Streets of St. Petersburg came around, and he turns out to have been absolutely right. Seventeen cars have been entered for this weekend’s race, including some cars from familiar teams and some from some newcomers.

The juggernaut of the Firestone Indy Light series, Sam Schmidt Motorsport, is back with a quartet of excellent racers as always. This year they return with two rookies and two veterens. They have the 2011 Star Mazda Champion, Tristan Vautier, and Oliver Webb who ran a few Firestone Indy Lights races last year for Jensen Motorsport. The squad also has two returning veterans, Esteban Guerrieri and Victor Carbone. Last year, we certainly saw that Esteban was lightning quick, but he was also inconistent. Carbone started the season slow, but gain serious pace in the latter half of the year. I think he will show to be the quickest, most consistent, of the four SSM pilots and will have a good chance at the championship this year.

Team Moore returns with Firestone Indy Lights journeyman Gustavo Yacaman. Gustavo searched in vain for an IZOD IndyCar Series ride over the off-season after coming off a great 2011 season with Team Moore including four podiums and his first race win in the series. With rides scarce, and engines even more so for IndyCar, Gustavo returns to the team in hopes of bettering last year’s performance and contesting not just for race wins, but for the championship. Yacaman is joined by series sophomore, David Ostella who drove for Jensen Motorsport last season.

The other powerhouse team returning to competition for 2012 is Andretti Autosport with two Columbians, Carlos Munòz and Sebastian Saavedra. Saavedra who ran last year with Conquest racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series returns to Andretti Autosport’s Indy Lights squad after finding himself in a similar situation as Yacaman over the off-season. Saavedra’s sole goal this year is to take the championship and make his way back into an IndyCar. He’s certainly starting off in the right way topping the timesheets earlier this week in testing at Barber Motorsports Park. He was 0.35s clear of the next best time set by Victor Carbone.

In addition to the perennial championship contenders, we also will see a return of other familiar faces and teams including Jorge Goncalvez for Belardi Auto Racing, and Bryan Herta Autosport is back with rookie driver Troy Castaneda. Stalwarts of the Star Mazda Championship, Juncos Racing, steps up this year to race in Firestone Indy Lights with their 2011 Star Mazda driver, J.V. Horto. In addition, we will see a few other new teams enter the championship this season as well. Hopefully, the funds will remain and we’ll see counts in the mid- to high-teens throughout the season.

Entry List for the Firestone Indy Lights St. Petersburg 100

 Car  Driver  Hometown  Car Name  Entrant 
2 Gustavo Yacaman Santiago de Cali, Colombia TMR-Tuvacol-Xtreme Coil Drilling Team Moore Racing
3 Victor Carbone Sao Paulo, Brazil Mav TV/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Sam Schmidt Motorsports
4 Jorge Goncalvez Los Teques, Venezuela Belardi Auto Racing Belardi Auto Racing
7 Oliver Webb (R) Manchester, England Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Sam Schmidt Motorsport
8 Alex Jones (R) Holyhead, Wales Brooks Associates Racing Brooks Associates Racing
9 Alon Day (R) Ashdod, Israel Belardi Auto Racing Belardi Auto Racing
11 Esteban Guerrieri Buenos Aires, Argentina Ironbox/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Sam Schmidt Motorsport
16 Rodin Younessi (R) Palm Beach, Fla. Younessi Racing Younessi Racing
20 Darryl Wills (R) Alvin, Texas Hillenburg Motorsports Hillenburg Motorsports
22 David Ostella (R) Maple, Ontario TMR-Global Precast-Xtreme Coil Drilling Team Moore Racing
24 Armaan Ebrahim (R) Chennai, India Fan Force United/JK Tyres/AMG Fan Force United
26 Carlos Munoz (R) Bogotá, Colombia Andretti Autosport Andretti Autosport
27 Sebastian Saavedra Bogotá, Colombia Team AFS AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport
28 Troy Castaneda (R) Sacramento, Calif. Forsythe/EMC/Barracuda Networks Bryan Herta Autosport
76 Juan Pablo Garcia Mexico City Freightliner Jeffrey Mark Motorsport Jeffrey Mark Motorsport
77 Tristan Vautier (R) Corenc, France Mazda Road to Indy/SSM Sam Schmidt Motorsports
86 J.V. Horto (R) Sao Paulo, Brazil Juncos Racing Juncos Racing

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