The Verizon IndyCar Series is gaining more talent from its Indy Lights junior series next year. Matthew Brabham will have a part-time IndyCar ride in 2016, while Jack Harvey is said to be gunning for a seat at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Both drivers follow the October announcement that Lights champion Spencer Pigot will join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
IndyCar revealed on Thursday that Brabham will field a car for an organization called PIRTEK Team Murray in the 2016 Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. Brabham, the son of Indy driver Geoff Brabham and grandson of Formula 1 veteran Sir Jack Brabham, has completed all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy feeder program in four years – winning the USF2000 title in 2012, the Pro Mazda championship in 2013, and running the last two seasons in Indy Lights.
Meanwhile, Racer is reporting that Jack Harvey is in discussions with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports about driving their second car. Harvey was the Lights runner-up for the last two seasons in an entry also for SPM, and now he’s looking to replace James Jakes as the pilot of the team’s second IndyCar entry. No deal has been finalized, but Harvey has made it clear his end goal is an IndyCar ride.
Pigot was already announced in October to drive a trio of races for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, with the possibility of more if the situation was right, though like Brabham he will not be a full-time IndyCar competitor.
All three drivers participated in the Indy Lights/IndyCar co-operative test day at Sonoma Raceway Aug. 13. Pigot drove for Team Penske with 2014 IndyCar champion Will Power, while Brabham shared time with Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti, and Harvey collaborated with SPM driver Ryan Briscoe, who was subbing for the injured James Hinchcliffe.
While it’s great to see that Indy Lights is actually feeding talent into IndyCar – as is its intended purpose – race fans shouldn’t get too excited until the results are laid out on track. Seven rookies took part in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, and two of them – Sage Karam and Stefano Coletti – are now unlikely to make it past their freshman year.
Getting to IndyCar from Indy Lights is an accomplishment, but it’ll be the act of maintaining their seat in the senior series that will really prove if Brabham, Harvey and Pigot have what it takes. Race fans will get to see at least two of them on track when the league comes to Indianapolis in May 2016.
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.