The battle heats up this weekend as the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires contenders head to Pocono Raceway for the Pocono 100 on July 5.
The level of intensity is high as Colombian-American Gabby Chaves and Ohioan Zach Veach are tied in points at the halfway mark in the season, with Brazilian rookie Luiz Razia only seven points behind.
The trio, who all drive for different teams, will continue their battle at the challenging 2.5-mile tri-oval in Long Pond, Pa.
Miami, Fla.-based Chaves is the nominal series leader, breaking the points tie by virtue of his third win of the season -- by 0.0050 of a second -- aboard Belardi Auto Racing's No. 5 Marca Colombia/Coldeportes car in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 23. Chaves finished third at Pocono last year, posting the fastest lap of the race at 188.052 mph, and will be chasing an early birthday present. He turns 21 on July 7.
Veach, 19, who drives the No. 26 RePLAY XD/The Young Marines/Ads IT Solutions/Zakosi Data Back Up entry for Andretti Autosport, has won at St. Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park.
Razia is a rookie but has amassed plenty of experience in Europe, including several years in GP2, the primary feeder series for Formula 1. The 25-year-old Brazilian earned his first Indy Lights win at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis road course in May. He also claimed pole position for his very first oval race, the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis, with the No. 7 Lucas Oil entry fielded by four-time defending champion team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian.
Veach's teammate, Matthew Brabham, who has won back-to-back championships in USF2000 and Pro Mazda, made his first visit to an Indy Lights victory circle at Indianapolis, while Razia's teammate and fellow rookie, Englishman Jack Harvey, has been knocking on the door after finishing among the top five in all seven of his Indy Lights races. Harvey currently lies fourth in the championship, only 27 points adrift of Chaves and Veach, and just five ahead of Brabham, who led for 28 of the 40 laps in the Freedom 100 before being edged at the finish by Chaves.
The battle for top honors in the team championship is equally as intense with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports holding only a five-point margin over Andretti Autosport (197 to 192) with Belardi Auto Racing 15 points back.
The Indy Lights field will benefit from six hours of testing July 4, followed by a 45-minute practice session on July 5. Single-car qualifying will commence at 12:30 p.m., and the 40-lap race is scheduled for a green flag at 3:45 p.m. IndyCar.com provides real-time Timing & Scoring along with the IMS Radio network broadcast.