Dale Coyne Racing has put two weeks of speculation to rest after announcing Tuesday morning that Zachary Claman de Melo will drive the No. 19 Paysafe Honda in the Indianapolis 500 while Pietro Fittipaldi continues to recover from injury. The Montreal driver will make his first Indy 500 attempt.
Claman de Melo will get his first laps on the oval since last year’s running of the Indy Lights edition of the Freedom 100 later today in the rookie orientation program. He finished sixth in last year’s race.
“I’m very much looking forward to turning my first laps aboard the No. 19 Paysafe Indy car on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Claman De Melo said. “It’s an iconic venue and I’m extremely fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to drive here. Again, it’s unfortunate that it’s under these circumstances with Pietro’s injuries, so I realize how lucky I am to have this chance.
“I want to thank Dale (Coyne) and Paysafe for giving me this opportunity. I can’t wait to get on track to complete my rookie orientation program.”
Claman de Melo took over for Fittipaldi after a vicious crash while practicing for the 6 Hours of Spa in Belgium on May 5. Fittipaldi was scheduled to race in both the Indianapolis Grand Prix this past weekend and the upcoming Indy 500. De Melo was named the replacement for the infield road course race where he finished an impressive 12th after running inside the top-10 for much of the race.
Should he qualify for the race, the Indianapolis 500 will be his first oval race in the Verizon IndyCar Series.