Belardi Auto Racing Adds James French for Road America
 June 23, 2016| 
  • Team News

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Belardi Auto Racing will welcome a new face to their Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires squad this weekend, as Wisconsin native James French will make his series debut at Road America, driving one of the team’s trademark red and white Dallara IL-15s.  French will race alongside fellow American Zach Veach when the series returns to the popular 4.048-mile, 14-turn facility in Elkhart Lake for the first time in 25 years.  The Veach-French pairing is now the only all-American driver line-up in this year’s Indy Lights series.  French will take over the car that has been driven by Swedish pilot Felix Rosenqvist since the beginning of the year, and the car will run the #45.  Rosenqvist was not able to attend the event due to conflicts with his European motorsports commitments. 

“While we’re disappointed not to have Felix with us for this weekend at Road America, it’s hard to think that there would be a driver with more knowledge of the track to put into the car,” commented Brian Belardi, Team Owner, speaking of French’s experience at the Wisconsin facility. “James has run here for many years in many different categories, and it’s exciting to be the team that will provide him with this Indy Lights debut.  We’re been talking to him about this for several months and I’m excited to see things come together.” 

The 24-year old French is currently a Senior in Motorsports Engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and he is also immersed in professional motorsports, running in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship in the Prototype Challenge class. French has significant experience at Road America, racing in different categories from the ultra-quick SCCA P1 to his family’s 1997 Jordan F1 car, and this should play a factor is in ability to get up to speed more quickly this weekend. James competed in the SCCA June Sprints at Road America this past weekend, winning both Saturday and Sunday in the P1 category, driving a Swift 014. 

Like French, Veach is thrilled to be getting the chance to compete at the iconic Road America.  Currently seventh in the series point standings on the strength of two podiums and top-10 finishes in seven of the eight races, Veach has shown great pace throughout the year, but has been forced to deal with several issues outside of his control. In the past USF2000 Championship Series events at Road America, in 2010 and 2011, Veach posted three podium finishes in four races. The 21-year-old is primed for a breakthrough weekend to help kickstart the push for the title over the second half of the season. 

This weekend’s Indy Lights events at Road America get underway on Friday with a single one-hour practice session at9:00 am CDT ahead of a 30-minute qualifying session at 2:15 pm. Belardi’s drivers will hit the track for the first race of the doubleheader on Saturday (June 25) at 2:00 pm.  The second race will be run on Sunday morning, before the Verizon IndyCar Series race, at 8:45 am.  All times are presented in Central Daylight Time. 

BELARDI AUTO RACING – DRIVER INFORMATION 

Zach Veach - #5

Age: 21

Hometown: Stockdale, Ohio

Residence: Zionsville, Indiana

Sponsors: Young Marines, Belardi Auto Racing 

Driver Input: “It's pretty exciting to be part of the next generation to be taking on Road America this weekend with Indy Lights and Belardi Auto Racing. I've had multiple podiums here back in USF2000, so I'm hoping to put that statistic to work here this weekend. It'll be a hectic weekend with driving and IndyCar Radio duties, but I'm ready to get things started!” 

James French - #45

Age: 24

Hometown: Sheboygan, WI

Residence: Indianapolis, IN

Sponsors: TBA 

Driver Input: “I'm extremely excited to be joining Belardi Auto Racing for the Road America event this weekend. I grew up watching IndyCar racing there, and always remember being blown away by the raw speed and amazing sounds through the trees and hills. I'm so happy that IndyCar is finally returning to our home track, and very grateful to be part of it. Competing in the Lights series against drivers with significantly more seat time in these cars will be challenging, but I'm hoping the limited practice time and my track knowledge will help to minimize that. I have every bit of faith that Belardi will roll a fast car off the trailer, and provide all of the knowledge I need to find the pace to be up front. The rest will be up to me to make the best of this amazing opportunity in front of my friends, family, and fellow ‘cheeseheads’. 

WEEKEND SCHEDULE (all times Central Time Zone):

Friday, June 24

§  Practice 1: 9:00 am – 10:00 am

§  Qualifying: 2:10 pm – 2:40 pm

Saturday, June 25

§  Race 1: 12:00 pm – 12:55 pm

Sunday, June 26

§  Race 2: 8:45 am – 9:45 am

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