Belardi Auto Racing, in partnership with long-time Indy 500 entrant Jonathan Byrd’s Racing and sprint car mainstays Baldwin Brothers Racing, has announce that 2017 USAC National Sprint Car champion and 2016 USAC Silver Crown champion Chris Windom will drive for the team in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Windom, who has made appearances in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series on the dirt at Eldora Speedway, will be making his first Indy Lights start, driving the No. 33 Belardi Auto Racing with Byrd & Baldwin Dallara IL-15 at the famed oval.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity to race for Belardi Auto Racing with Byrd & Baldwin. The Belardi team has had a ton of success on the Road to Indy, so I know I’ll be in good hands, with great teammates, as I deal with a fairly steep learning curve,” said Windom. “Although I’ve run big, high-speed tracks in Silver Crown, ARCA, and NASCAR, this will be my first rear-engine experience, so it’s obviously an entirely different style of racing than anything I’ve ever done, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge and to taking what I hope are solid steps to my goal of racing in the Indy 500.”
While the Jonathan Byrd’s team is no stranger to Indianapolis, with 2018 marking the 33rd anniversary of its first Indianapolis 500 entry, this represents their first foray into Indy Lights. The Baldwin Brothers team, after many years of sprint car racing and the collection of its first USAC championship in 2017 with Windom behind the wheel of its No. 5 sprint car, will be making its first venture to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity that has been presented to me by the Byrd family, and couldn’t be happier about Kenny Baldwin extending his support to be a part of this new journey,” Windom added. “I’m excited to represent Jonathan Byrd’s Racing at Indy and thrilled to bring my relationship with Kenny to this level.”
“We’re quite pleased to have Chris join our team,” said Brian Belardi, team principal for the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champions and the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires team champions. “He’s obviously an extremely talented racer with a championship pedigree that has achieved success across multiple grassroots racing disciplines. I know that we are bringing a seasoned racer to our organization and that we will give him the tools that he needs to succeed.”
David Byrd added: “With two USAC championships under his belt and a bright future ahead of him, Chris has certainly earned himself an opportunity at Indy. His abilities are obvious, but naturally, given his background, he needs the chance to gain experience, and when it comes to driver development, there’s no better team on the Road to Indy than Belardi Auto Racing. Speaking on behalf of my family and for Kenny Baldwin, who has been such a big part of Chris’ career over the last few years, we are tremendously appreciative of the opportunity to partner with Brian Belardi and the fantastic professionals on his team, and can’t wait to see Chris behind the wheel of the Belardi Auto Racing with Byrd & Baldwin machine.”
While running a full racing schedule of nearly 100 races this year in Silver Crown, Sprint Cars, and Midgets, Windom will get his first opportunity behind the wheel of his Indy Lights machine in late April, when he takes to the track to earn his oval license at a location still to be determined. He’ll record his first laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indy Lights open test on May 21.