Dale Coyne Racing announced today that Zachary Claman De Melo will replace the injured Pietro Fittipaldi behind the wheel of the No. 19 Paysafe Honda in this week’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Fittipaldi made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut last month in the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway. The grandson of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi was scheduled to drive in the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 27 until he sustained a broken left leg and right ankle in a qualifying crash at the World Endurance Championship race in Spa, Belgium.
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Claman De Melo, who has already driven the No. 19 car in three Verizon IndyCar Series road- and street-course races this season, was named by team owner Dale Coyne to fill in this weekend. The team has not announced who will drive the car in the Indianapolis 500.
“I’m extremely excited to get to race at the INDYCAR Grand Prix this weekend aboard the No. 19 Paysafe car, but I’m sad that it’s under these circumstances,” Claman De Melo said. “My thoughts are first and foremost with Pietro. You never want to see that happen to a competitor, much less a teammate.
“Getting to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is always special. I enjoyed racing there in Indy Lights and I can’t wait to now get a chance to drive there aboard an Indy car. It’s a fun track with some good passing opportunities, which means it should be a good show for the fans. Hopefully, we can turn our luck around and come out of the weekend with a good result.”
Claman De Melo’s best finish thus far in 2018 was 17th place in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The 20-year-old from Montreal was already slated to drive in 10 races for Dale Coyne Racing this season before the INDYCAR Grand Prix was added to his schedule.
Practice and qualifying for the fifth annual event on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course takes place Friday, with all sessions streaming live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Practices begin at 9:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. ET, with three rounds of Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying starting at 4:30 p.m.
A final 30-minute warmup practice is set for 11:15 a.m. Saturday. Live coverage of the 85-lap race begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.