INDIANAPOLIS — A new program designed to help promote worthy talent within IndyCar’s developmental ladder system was announced Thursday at the PRI Trade Show.
Known as Rising Star Racing, the program’s goal is to help ensure that the most deserving drivers get opportunities they have earned within IndyCar. Josef Newgarden, who just completed his second full IndyCar season with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, has been named the Rising Star Racing ambassador.
“It can be really challenging to move up in this sport,” Newgarden said. “When you are young and working so hard to make it happen, the stars have to align perfectly. I think that Rising Star Racing is going to help show that it is possible.”
Joining Newgarden as part of the Rising Star Racing program are Neil Alberico and Spencer Pigot. Alberico will be moving up to the Pro Mazda Championship Series in 2014 after a runner-up finish in the 2013 USF2000 Championship standings. Pigot, who finished fourth in the Pro Mazda ranks in 2013 during his rookie campaign, will return for another season in Pro Mazda next year.
The program’s vision as well as funding comes from Indianapolis businessman Art Wilmes. A lifelong fan of IndyCar, Wilmes wanted to help talented racers that are working their way up the IndyCar ranks.
“We are looking for drivers who are long on talent, but short on resources,” Wilmes said. “Our goal is to provide talented young open wheel drivers with the support they need and allow their talent to win out.”
• Kyle Larson said he is hoping to race in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, which will serve as the debut race for the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Larson got his chance to audition for a seat in the second Chip Ganassi Racing prototype on Tuesday during a test at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
“That was more of an audition. Hopefully I did well enough to where I can be part of the team,” Larson said. “Chip Ganassi Racing has two really good teams that they bring for the 24-hour race, so hopefully I can be part of the team.”
Larson also said that there is a slim chance he might climb into a second Larson Marks Racing sprint car in 2014 for a few races. The team announced on Thursday that GoPro will be the primary sponsor of the No. 2 driven by Shane Stewart.
“Hopefully I can get a couple in,” Larson said. “I’m going to be really busy with the NASCAR stuff with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. I’ll be doing the full Sprint Cup Series and all but five or six Nationwide races, so most all my weeks are taken up right there.”
• Dave Darland told us on Thursday that the ARCA program for the Daytona opener is coming together slowly but surely. They are still looking for sponsorship support for the venture, but everything appears to be moving forward and they expect to race at Daytona in February.
• Chip Ganassi Racing will announce the driver of the No. 10 Target entry vacated by Dario Franchitti Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. Alex Tagliani and Ryan Briscoe have both been linked to the opening at Ganassi.