2018 Class of Rookies before the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Track Talk: Rookie Preview Part 1

April 2nd, 2018

Even if you’re hardcore fan, you might just need a spotters guide to sort out all of the rookies on the 2018 IndyCar series grid. At time of writing, 10 different rookies will attempt to qualify and race this year. With so many to profile, we here at #TrackTalk decided to break out our rookie preview into two parts.

Robert Wickens: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

There’s lots we can say about Robert Wickens- Formula One test driver, DTM winner, etc. He’s a versatiledriver who has won in just about every racing series he’s competed in. But if you really want get a sense of what’s expected from him, then cue up the St. Petersburg highlights on YouTube and watch as he makes his debut race look easy. Pole, most laps led, and had it not been for Alexander Rossi’s dive-bomb move with two laps to go, we’d easily be talking about IndyCar’s newest winner.

Matheus Leist: AJ Foyt Enterprises

Matheus Leist finished 4th in his rookie Indy Lights season, racking up wins at Road America, Iowa, and the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Paired with countryman and former champion, Tony Kanaan, Leist has shown flashes of speed in pre-season testing and qualified 3rd at St. Petersburg. Contact with the wall meant he would finish last in his first race, but don’t count him out just yet. Oh, did we mention that he’s only 19?

Zach Veach: Andretti Autosport

No stranger to Andretti Autosport, Zach Veach has been with the team for four of his six Mazda Road to Indy seasons. A six time Indy Lights winner, Veach spent most 2017 on the sidelines hustling for an IndyCar ride. His efforts worked, with starts for Ed Carpenter Racing at Barber and AJ Foyt Enterprises at the Indy 500. Veach has reunited with Andretti Autosport for his first full time IndyCar season.

Zachary Claman DeMelo: Dayle Coyne Racing [Part Time]

Another Mazda Road to Indy standout, Zachary Claman DeMelo made his series debut in the 2017 finale at Sonoma for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He finished 17th, and followed it up with another 17th in St. Petersburg. Overall, he’s finished both IndyCar races he’s started, and brining the car home in one piece is the first step to bigger and better things. Claman DeMelo will spit his time with Pietro Fittipaldi in the Dale Coyne Racing #19 car.

Pietro Fittipaldi: Dayle Coyne Racing [Part Time]

Recognize the last name? You should, as he’s the grandson of former Formula One, IndyCar, and Indy 500 champion, Emerson Fittipaldi. Like Wickens, Fittipaldi has had a fairly diverse upbringing, winning in cars with and without fenders. His racing resume includes the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Formula Renault, Formula 3, and Formula Renault 3.5 (to name a few). Beyond his part time IndyCar campaign Fittipaldi will also compete in the Japanese Super Formula series, and will make two starts in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Fittipaldi will make his IndyCar debut in Phoenix.

Loads of talent, and we’re only halfway there! Come back on Monday for part two.

Victor Genova is the host of the Media People Podcast and a freelance racing writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @VicGenova