AFS and Andretti to field Saavedra at Sonoma

AFS Racing and Andretti Autosport announced today that they will again join forces as co-entrants of the No. 17 IZOD IndyCar Series entry to be driven by Sebastian Saavedra at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. As the official test driver for Andretti Autosport, the Colombian-born driver will test the AFS Racing Chevrolet at the Sonoma Raceway August 17 alongside teammates Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Saavedra, 22, also drove the No. 17 AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport INDYCAR entry at this year's Indianapolis 500. He recorded the fastest practice lap of the day on May 13, and went on to a 26th place-finish after experiencing mechanical problems.

Saavedra is currently participating full-time in the Firestone Indy Lights series, where he is third in the championship point standings. He and the No. 27 AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport crew have a victory and five podium finishes in eight races so far this season.

Saavedra finished third in the Indy Lights championship and was awarded Rookie of the Year honors during the 2009 season driving for AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport. Saavedra made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut with Bryan Herta Autosport at the 2010 Indianapolis 500, and after running a partial IndyCar season with Conquest Racing in 2011, he has returned to the Indy Lights category to familiarize himself with the tracks and to race against many of the top up-and-coming young drivers in the series.

The AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport pairing has enjoyed success, winning two Firestone Indy Lights championships in 2008 with driver Raphael Matos and 2009 with JR Hildebrand. AFS/Andretti also joined forces in 2009 and 2010 with IZOD IndyCar Series entries piloted by Franck Montagny and Adam Carroll.

"I'm very proud of Sebastian. Clearly, deciding to run the full season of Firestone Indy Lights was the right one. He's been able to gauge the up-and-coming drivers while having an opportunity to run with the IndyCar drivers at the Andretti Autosport team. He's gotten more oval and road course experience, test driven the IndyCars, and run the Indy 500. Now, he's getting another IndyCar opportunity at Sonoma. Everything we're doing is putting Seb in an excellent position to build upon his future and help set the stage for a great AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport 2013 program. Seb is from an amazing Colombian family. They are a caring, close family and have become very dear friends of my family. He is a talented driver with a great attitude; he has what it takes to become an IndyCar champion."

"I've been impressed this year with Sebastian (Saavedra) and the way AFS Racing is managing his racing career. We all agree that running this season in Firestone Indy Lights provides great testing opportunities and is the best decision for Sebastian as he works to advance in the sport. Having the opportunity to run both the Indy 500 and at Sonoma lets him ease into the new DW12 car and back into the Series. We also really want him involved with our three full-time IndyCar drivers and his hard work with us as our test driver is beneficial for all parties. This arrangement puts us in a good place to strengthen our 2012 program and also to build upon our future."

"I am very excited about this great opportunity. I'm extremely thankful to AFS and Gary Peterson for this, as well as Andretti Autosport. I really enjoy driving in Sonoma; there is something about the place that makes it special. Not having an Indy Lights race that weekend will enable us to focus a lot better and search for a good finish. I'm looking forward to driving on a road course and working with the Andretti Autosport guys for the second time. We go into Sonoma with expectations to continue the great job the team has done so far this season."

"Sebastian has been a great asset in helping AFS and Andretti Autosport back to the top with both the IZOD IndyCar and Firestone Indy Lights programs. Not only has he returned to the winner's circle with the No. 27 AFS Indy Lights car, he was a huge contributor in a great Indy 500 effort. The Sonoma race gives us a great opportunity to get Sebastian back in the IndyCar Series with a track he has been impressive at in the past. This will continue his development into a premier IndyCar driver without sacrificing the focus of winning the Indy Lights championship."

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