Saavedra to Compete at Sonoma

Sebastian Saavedra

Saavedra, 22, will join teammates Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay for testing at Sonoma Raceway on Aug. 17. (Photo: Getty Images)


AFS Racing and Andretti Autosport announced that they will be co-entrants of the No. 17 IZOD IndyCar Series car to be driven by Sebastian Saavedra at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 24-26.

Saavedra, 22, will join teammates Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay for testing at Sonoma Raceway on Aug. 17.

"I'm extremely thankful to AFS and (team owner) Gary Peterson for this, as well as Andretti Autosport," said Saavedra, who is third in the Firestone Indy Lights championship standings entering this weekend's race in Edmonton, Alberta. "Not having an Indy Lights race that weekend will enable us to focus a lot better and search for a good finish."

Saavedra advanced nine positions to finish 14th in the 2011 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma in a Conquest Racing car. He competed in the Indianapolis 500 in May in a car co-entered by AFS Racing and Andretti Autosport in addition to driving in the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"I'm looking forward to driving on a road course and working with the Andretti Autosport guys for the second time," said Saavedra, of Colombia. "We go into Sonoma with expectations to continue the great job the team has done so far this season."

Saavedra has five podium finishes, including a victory from the pole at Barber Motorsports Park in April, in eight Firestone Indy Lights races this season. In the most recent outing, he was runner-up to Gustavo Yacaman on the streets of Toronto.

"I'm very proud of Sebastian. Clearly, deciding to run the full season of Firestone Indy Lights was the right one," said Peterson, a former Firestone Indy Lights driver. "He's been able to gauge the up-and-coming drivers while having an opportunity to run with the IndyCar drivers at the Andretti Autosport team. He's gotten more oval and road course experience, test driven the IndyCars, and run the Indy 500.

"Now he's getting another IndyCar opportunity at Sonoma. Everything we're doing is putting Seb in an excellent position to build upon his future and help set the stage for a great AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport 2013 program."

Saavedra was awarded Firestone Indy Lights Rookie of the Year honors during the 2009 season, in which he placed third in the championship to teammate JR Hildebrand. Saavedra made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut with Bryan Herta Autosport in the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

"I've been impressed this year with Sebastian and the way AFS Racing is managing his racing career," Andretti Autosport principal Michael Andretti said. "We all agree that running this season in Firestone Indy Lights provides great testing opportunities and is the best decision for Sebastian as he works to advance in the sport.

"Having the opportunity to run both the Indy 500 and at Sonoma lets him ease into the new car and back into the series. We also really want him involved with our three full-time IndyCar drivers and his hard work with us as our test driver is beneficial for all parties. This arrangement puts us in a good place to strengthen our 2012 program and also to build upon our future."

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