Sebastian Saavedra will have his second 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series start at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on August 26th in a No. 17 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone Indy car co-entered by AFS Racing and Andretti Autosport. He drove in the Indianapolis 500, recording the fastest practice lap on May 13th and finished 26th due to mechanical problems.
Colombian driver Saavedra, 22, currently races full-time in the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series, contesting the Firestone Indy Lights series where he lies third in the championship with a single victory and five podium results in eight races held thus far in the 2012 season.
AFS Racing team owner Gary Peterson - Anne Proffit photo
"I'm very proud of Sebastian," Gary Peterson, AFS Racing owner said. "Clearly, deciding to run the full season of Firestone Indy Lights was the right one; he's been able to gauge the up-and-coming drivers while having an opportunity to run with the Indy car drivers at Andretti Autosport. He's gotten more oval and road course experience, test-driven the Indy cars and run the Indy 500," he said.
"Everything we're doing is putting Seb in an excellent position to build upon his future and hep set the stage for a great AFS RAcing/Andretti Autosport 2013 program. He is a talented driver with a great attitude," Peterson acknowledged. "He has what it takes to become an IndyCar champion."
In his first season of Indy Lights competition, Saavedra finished third in the championship and earned 2009 Rookie of the Year honors driving for AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport. He made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut with Bryan Herta Autosport at the 2010 Indianapolis 500 and ran a partial Indy car season with Conquest Racing in 2011.
The partnership between AFS Racing and Andretti Autosport has netted two Firestone Indy Lights championships - in 2008 Raphael Matos won the title and the following year JR Hildebrand earned the championship. The two squads merged in 2009 and 2010 for Indy car entries for Frenchman Franck Montagny and Briton Adam Carroll.
Michael Andretti - Anne Proffit photo
"I've been impressed this year with Sabastian and the way AFS Racing is managing his racing career," said Michael Andretti, chairman, president and CEO of Andretti Autosport. "Having the opportunity to run both the Indy 500 and at Sonoma lets him ease into the new DW12 (Dallara) 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."
As the official test driver for Andretti Autosport, Saavedra tests his AFS Chevrolet at the Sonoma Raceway the week before his next IndyCar Series race, August 17, alongside teammates Marco Andretti James Hinchcliffe and triple race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
As expected, Saavedra is "very excited about this great opportunity and extremely thankful to AFS and Gary Peterson for this, as well as Andretti Autosport. I really enjoy driving in Sonoma; there is something about the place that makes it special and not having an Indy Lights race that weekend will enable us to focus a lot better and search for a good finish. We go into Sonoma," Saavedra emphasized, "with expectations to continue the great job the team has done so far this season."