DeFrancesco Aiming for Indy Lights Success at Barber
 April 14, 2021| 
  • Team News
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21-year-old Italian-Canadian racer to make Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires debut for Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport

LEEDS, Ala. – Indy Pro 2000 Rookie of the Year and series runner-up Devlin DeFrancesco will take his step up the Road to Indy development ladder when he makes his Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires debut for Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport this weekend.

The 21-year-old Italian-Canadian racer returned to North America last year after a championship-winning start to his career in Europe. DeFrancesco came within inches of winning on debut in Indy Pro 2000 and finished the season with two wins, six podiums and the Rookie of the Year award.

Now graduating to the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship, DeFrancesco will race the No.17 Powertap Hydrogen-backed Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport starting this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

DeFrancesco already has plenty of miles under his belt in preparation for 2021, including last week’s Indy Lights “Spring Training” test and a successful assault on the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where he finished third in the LMP2 class for DragonSpeed.

The 2021 Indy Lights championship will feature 20 races staged over 10 weekends, with the championship featuring some of North America’s finest tracks. The series will commence this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, followed by race weekends on the streets of St. Petersburg, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Detroit’s Belle Isle, Road America, MId-Ohio Sports Car Course, the streets of Toronto, St. Louis’ World Wide Technology Raceway, Portland International Raceway, and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

All 20 rounds of the 2021 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship will be shown live and on-demand in the United States on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service. 

Indy Lights is the final stepping stone on the Road to Indy. Launched 35 years ago, the championship’s alumni list reads like a “who’s who” of IndyCar history.

Past Indy Lights champions include Paul Tracy, Bryan Herta, Greg Moore, Tony Kanaan, Cristiano da Matta, Oriol Servia, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward.

The likes of Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Max Chilton, Conor Daly, Mario Dominguez, Adrian Fernandez, Colton Herta, Graham Rahal, Felix Rosenqvist, Jimmy Vasser and Dan Wheldon also used the championship as a stepping stone to their IndyCar stardom.

DeFrancesco will hit the track for the first time on Thursday for the first practice session, followed by qualifying on Friday. This weekend’s pair of Indy Lights races will be at 12:15 pm (US Central Time) on Saturday, April 17, and 12:20 pm the following day on Sunday, April 18. 

INDY LIGHTS SCHEDULE

Thursday, April 15

3:30 PM-4:15 PM  Practice 1

Friday, April 16
11:00 AM-11:30 AM  Qualifying 1
3:00 PM-3:30 PM  Qualifying 2

Saturday, April 17:
12:15 PM-1:15 PM  Race 1

Sunday, April 18:
12:20 PM-1:20 PM  Race 2

DEVLIN DEFRANCESCO Q&A

Q: What are your expectations and goals for the season ahead?
A:
“Every step of the ladder on the Road to Indy gets tougher and more challenging, but I have a great team behind me with Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport, and I can’t wait to get started this weekend.

“The Indy Lights car is really fantastic to drive, and I have been very impressed with the Cooper tires. We’ve done a lot of miles in testing, but now it’s time to go racing.

“Driving and qualifying is one thing - but I’m looking to getting stuck into the battle this weekend.

“I was able to fight for the championship in Indy Pro 2000 with the Andretti Steinbrenner guys last year – I’m certain they’ll give me the tools to do the same in 2021.”

Q: How much are you looking forward to racing at Barber Motorsports Park for the first time?
A: “I can’t wait! We’ve done a lot of miles around here in the past couple of weeks, and this has quickly become one of my favorite tracks in North America. It has a great flow to it, and it is a little bit ‘old school’ – if you make a mistake, there are consequences.

"Barber has a great combination of slow, medium, and fast corners and some awesome elevation changes. There are parts of the track where you are turning while accelerating or braking – getting the car on the edge and using all the available grip is the challenge.”

Q: Which venues are you most looking forward to this year?
A: “This one at Barber of course! Always looking forward to the next race. But Road America is obviously everyone’s favorite road course. It is one of the best tracks in the world.

“Running the oval at World Wide Technology Raceway will also be a massive thrill in the Indy Lights car. The Andretti Steinbrenner guys gave me an absolute rocketship at St. Louis last year, and I can’t wait to get back there this year.

“For a guy that grew up with road racing, I really enjoyed my time on the ovals last year and can’t wait to do some more in the years to come.

“I’ve got some new venues on the schedule that I’m also looking forward to, like Portland and Laguna Seca – I love racing and learning new tracks.”

Q: Apart from testing, what have you put into your preparation for the 2021 season?
A: “Getting some race miles under my belt at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and scoring my first podium there was an incredible thrill.

“Working on my fitness has been a huge part of preparing for this season. My trainer Sergio has been kicking my butt to get me ready for the Indy Lights car. The races are a little longer, more G forces, more downforce – I need to make sure that in the final laps, I’m ready to go.

“I’ve also been putting in a lot of miles on my AIS simulator as well. It is such a brilliant tool to use to prepare me for the season ahead. I’ve found it really beneficial for my preparation – particularly at venues where I haven’t raced previously.”

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