Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test Set to go at Indy
 September 20, 2018| 
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Racers From 15 Different Nations Seek Head Start on Preparations for 2019

PALMETTO, Fla. – Less than three weeks after another successful season for the world-renowned Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder wrapped up in Portland, Ore., teams and drivers are already focused on 2019 as the Eighth Annual Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test takes place this coming weekend, September 22/23, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road course.

Almost three dozen drivers representing 15 different nationalities are already signed up for two days of action on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn track in Speedway, Ind., for all three development series – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

The test is held in memory of long-time crew chief and team manager Chris Griffis, who was part of Indy Lights championship-winning teams at Panther Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports before passing away in September 2011.

Race Winner Baron Returns to USF2000 with New Legacy Team

A solid entry of 14 drivers have signed up for the two-day test in USF2000, only half of whom have previous experience of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. Prime among them will be proven winner Alexandre “Alex” Baron, who carries dual British and French citizenship but will have a singular purpose in flying the flag for the new Legacy Autosport team which recently announced plans to enter the full championship in 2019 with Baron at the helm.

Baron was the only driver to make a dent in Kyle Kirkwood’s dominance this season, winning two of the first four races. He will be joined by former Skip Barber Racing Series front-runner Andre Castro, from New York, N.Y., who is seeking to make his return after more than 18 months on the sidelines.

After another stellar campaign which brought an astonishing 12th consecutive drivers’ championship, Florida-based Cape Motorsports has expanded its program to field no fewer than three youngsters this weekend. All harbor hopes of following in Kirkwood’s footsteps. Darren Keane, from Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Colin Kaminsky, from Joliet, Ill., both have solid previous experience in USF2000, while Tyler O’Connor, from New Hartford, Conn., will be stepping up after finishing a very close second in this year’s hard-fought F1600 Championship Series.

Pabst Racing, which has won the Team Championship in each of the past two years, also will field three cars for 15-year-old Yuven Sundaramoorthy, another multiple-time F1600 race winner, plus California-born, New Zealand-raised, Australian-domiciled Hunter McElrea, who leads the Australian Formula Ford Championship with two rounds remaining, and Canadian Logan Cusson, who also has been competing in F1600 this year.

Englishman James Raven, who shone during a one-off outing at Mid-Ohio where he finished second to Kirkwood in one of the races, will drive one of three DEForce Racing entries this weekend alongside Ryan Bjerke, from Warsaw, Ind., who has gained some valuable experience over the past two years in F1600, and Francisco Porto, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who seeks to step up after a partial season in the NACAM and F4 United States championships.

Aside from Legacy Autosport, two more teams – Jay Howard Driver Development and Miller Vinatieri Motorsports – also will be making their official USF2000 debuts this weekend. Indianapolis 500 veteran and 2005 USF2000 champion Jay Howard has entered a couple of Tatuus-Mazda USF-17s for local racer Zach Holden, who has exhibited tremendous promise in the past, and F4 racer Christian Bogle, from Covington, La. In addition, locally based former Indy Lights and IndyCar racer Jack Miller and business partner/racing aficionado Adam Vinatieri – better known as an NFL Super Bowl-winning kicker with both the New England Patriots and, more recently, the Indianapolis Colts — will combine to enter a car for teenager Jack William Miller.

Live timing and scoring for all sessions will be available on the respective series’ websites, indylights.com, promazda.com and usf2000.com, as well as the Mazda Road to Indy TV App and indycar.com.

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