Claman DeMelo Ready for IndyCar Debut at Sonoma Raceway
After two full-time Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires seasons, Zachary Claman DeMelo is set for the next step of his open-wheel career. He will make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut at Sonoma Raceway on September 17 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
“I’m very excited and very thankful to Paysafe for making the opportunity possible,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m looking to seeing what else it leads to.”
Going into the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, the Canadian admits there’s no particular result that he is aiming for, but rather seeing how he can progress from practice to the race.
“Obviously, it’d be nice to be quick and jell well with Graham (Rahal), my teammate,” he said. “I’m just going to do the best that I can, and keep learning throughout the weekend in making gains towards next year.”
Like many Indy Lights competitors, Claman DeMelo has tested an IndyCar previously, with his opportunity coming earlier this year with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Despite his time on the track being cut short, his laps were equal to those run by the team’s full-time competitors.
“I think I adjusted it to it quick,” he said. “It’s not per say really different than the Indy Lights car, just a bit quicker. But overall, it wasn’t too bad.”
Driving for Carlin Racing this past season, Claman DeMelo put together a solid Indy Lights campaign, placing fifth in points after closing out the year with eight straight top-six finishes following his victory at Road America.
“It went very well,” he said. “At the beginning of the season, we didn’t get the results we should have due to some problems and some bad luck, but at the end of the season, it went really well. We showed that if we were like that the whole year, we would’ve been competing for the championship.”
Compared to 2016 where he failed to score a podium, Claman DeMelo said experience made the difference, as prior to competing in Indy Lights full-time in 2016, he only had a half season under his belt racing cars.
As of right, Claman DeMelo does not have any plans set in stone for 2018, but the 2017 season finale may serve as a preview for those.
“It depends on sponsorship and opportunities, but the goal is to be in IndyCar full-time next year,” he said.
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