Rookie driver Zachary Claman De Melo is tipped to make his return in a two-race stint with Harding Racing. The 20-year-old would pilot the No. 88 Chevy this weekend at Pocono and the following weekend at Gateway, handling the final ovals on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule for the Mike Harding-owned operation.
After spending most of the season in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda, the French-Canadian’s stint with the team was completed after Pietro Fittipaldi stepped into the No. 19 at Mid-Ohio, but the changing plans at Harding created a new opportunity for the former Indy Lights driver to continue racing.
With the Harding team shifting its attention toward driver evaluations at Toronto by parking Gabby Chaves, moving Conor Daly into the car, and slotting technical director Gerald Tyler into a race engineering role, the Indiana-based outfit could close the year with four or five drivers passing through its No. 88 Chevy.
Claman De Melo, who was among those seen meeting with the Harding team at Mid-Ohio, would take over from Daly, who impressed on short notice at Toronto and again at the most recent event in Lexington, Ohio.
With Andretti Autosport Indy Lights driver Colton Herta having tested for Harding at Portland, and the finale at Sonoma up for grabs as well, a variety of drivers are under consideration for the last two road courses of the year.
Provided Claman De Melo is confirmed, he will have the opportunity to make 11 starts this season in preparation for a full-time campaign in 2019. It’s believed the oval outings with Harding would be used as an assessment to determine whether Claman De Melo and his sponsors would want to consider the team for a sophomore IndyCar campaign.