Dale Coyne Racing confirmed today that rookie drivers Zachary Claman DeMelo and Pietro Fittipaldi will share the team’s No. 19 Honda in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, with sponsorship from global payments provider Paysafe.
Claman DeMelo, the 19-year-old Canadian, made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut at the 2017 season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he finished 17th for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He drove in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the top level of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder, in 2016 and ’17, recording a victory last season at Road America.
Fittipaldi, 21, is the grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, 1989 Indy car champion and two-time Formula 1 titlist. Pietro Fittipaldi, born in Brazil but living in Miami, captured the World Series Formula 3.5 V8 championship in 2017 on the strength of six race wins and a record 10 pole positions.
"We are very pleased to have a leading global payments provider like Paysafe come on board to the exciting sport of Indy car racing as part of their North American expansion strategy," said team owner Dale Coyne. "With Zach and Pietro’s ever-growing skills, we look forward to a competitive 2018 season for Paysafe."
Both drivers have recently tested in the car, at Sebring International Raceway in Florida and Sonoma Raceway in California. While the full race schedule for each driver was not announced, Claman DeMelo will be in the No. 19 Honda for the season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11 (12:30 p.m. ET, ABC), as well as events this spring at Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park.
“Paysafe helped me attain a life ambition last September when I made my Verizon IndyCar Series debut in Sonoma,” Claman DeMelo said. “I am hugely grateful for their ongoing support as I prepare for the forthcoming races. I feel proud to be representing their brand again on the racetrack and I shall be doing all I can to get the Paysafe car into victory lane.”
Fittipaldi is participating in this week’s series open test at ISM Raceway and has been named to drive the No. 19 Honda in the Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway on April 7 (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 27 (11 a.m. ET, ABC).
“This is a dream come true, even more so to be racing in the Indy 500, where my family already has a history of great results,” said Fittipaldi, who in addition to his grandfather counts cousin Christian Fittipaldi and uncle Max Papis as Indy 500 veterans.
“I want to thank the entire team at Dale Coyne Racing, along with my long-time sponsors, Escuderia Telmex, and Paysafe for this massive opportunity and important step in my career,” Fittipaldi added. “I’m very excited and proud to be racing on a world stage like the Verizon IndyCar Series this year.”
Oscar Nieboer, chief marketing officer for Paysafe, said its sponsorship program with Dale Coyne Racing is part of a broader plan to build its brand in the North American market.
“Indy car racing is extremely high profile in North America and this is a region where we see significant growth opportunities for our business,” Nieboer said.
“Zach and Pietro are both exceptional drivers and embody the very spirit that we believe defines Paysafe: a laser focus on performance at the highest level combined with a proven track record of speed, agility and safety,” Nieboer added. “This makes them both fantastic brand ambassadors and we wish them every success in their respective races piloting the Paysafe car.”
Fittipaldi will join other Verizon IndyCar Series rookies on Thursday to test on the ISM Raceway oval. The two-day open test on Friday and Saturday is for all cars. On-track sessions are from 3-6 and 8-11 p.m. ET both days and will stream live on racecontrol.indycar.com. Fans will be admitted to the track in Avondale, Arizona, free on Saturday.