"It was quite an interesting race," said Saavedra. "I made a big mistake at the start, stalling the car, but we kept calm and focused. We had a great car with great pace and that enabled me to move back through the field. I was also able to capitalize on the mistakes by others. Unfortunately with 10 laps to go we had a mechanical situation and then our main goal was to bring the car home. I was able to pick up some great points and am real proud of all of the KV AFS crew for keeping their heads in the game and not panicking when we got into those situations. I also need to thank my engineer for a great strategy and for getting me back in the race. We move on to Barber in a couple of weeks and I look forward to getting another great result."

 

 

At the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the streets of Long Beach, California

Saavedra, driving the No. 17 KV AFS Chevrolet/Dallara/Firestone entry, qualified 22nd yesterday on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn circuit. The 80-lap contest began today with the first standing start of the Verizon IndyCar Series season and the first at Long Beach since 2008. Unfortunately for Saavedra the car stalled at the start, dropping him to the back of the field. With nothing to lose, the KV AFS team decided to pit him early and switch from black to alternate red tires. He remained in 22nd until the first yellow, which saw him move to 17th and from then on kept battling his way through the field. With approximately 25 laps to go Saavedra's left thumb got hit by front wing debris, but he fought through the pain. Saavedra was patient and with a great race car, he found himself leading his first IndyCar race when the third yellow flag was shown due to a multiple car pile up. Saaedra pitted three laps later and with 10 laps to go the team suffered a mechanical problem, which meant the talented Colombian was forced to nurse the car home. Saavedra was able to gain a total of 24 places to finish ninth and pick up 23 points, which puts him 10th in the championship standings.

"It was quite an interesting race," said Saavedra. "I made a big mistake at the start, stalling the car, but we kept calm and focused. We had a great car with great pace and that enabled me to move back through the field. I was also able to capitalize on the mistakes by others. Unfortunately with 10 laps to go we had a mechanical situation and then our main goal was to bring the car home. I was able to pick up some great points and am real proud of all of the KV AFS crew for keeping their heads in the game and not panicking when we got into those situations. I also need to thank my engineer for a great strategy and for getting me back in the race. We move on to Barber in a couple of weeks and I look forward to getting another great result."

The 23-year-old made his third Verizon IndyCar Series start at Long Beach this weekend. In two previous races, Saavedra has a best starting position of 15th in 2011 and now has a best finish of ninth today.  A graduate of the Indy Lights Series, Saavedra has experienced success here. While racing in the junior series, he never finished outside of the top-10 and in his three previous attempts at Long Beach had a best finish of second in 2012.

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Saavedra has been among the youngest drivers in nearly every series he has competed in. He joined the Firestone Indy Lights just before his 19th birthday and that year was awarded Rookie of the Year Honors with AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport. He moved to Bryan Herta Autosport for 2010 where he made his Indianapolis 500 debut becoming the third Colombian driver to do so. Saavedra then stepped up to the IndyCar Series in 2011 with Conquest Racing before returning to Indy Lights in 2012. Last year he spent the entire season back in IndyCar with Dragon Racing.

Next up on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, April 25-27, 2014. The race will be broadcast live from Barber Motorsports Park at 3pm ET on NBC Sports.

Images - 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (2nd Race 2014)

Images - Firestone Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg (1st Race 2014)

Images - Barber Motorsports Park Test (March 2014)

"I am happy with how the first race of the season went," said Saavedra. "Unfortunately we didn't have the pace at the end but after where we started at the weekend, I am pleased with the 11th position points in the bank. At the end it was a survival race. We had a strong stint on the reds, the blacks were not very quick and that really caused us to drop places and that last stint was a big battle to the end. I'm very proud of my KV AFS boys, everybody did an amazing job in the pits. We just need to keep focusing and prepare for Long Beach in a couple of weeks time."

 

Andretti Autosport Mazda Road to Indy Driver Breaks Season Win Record

Pro Mazda Championship racer Matthew Brabham wheeled the No. 83 machine to a record-setting wins in Trois-Rivieres this last weekend. Recording his 10th and 11th victories of the season, the 19-year-old set a new series record for most wins, as well as most podium finishes (13) in one season and clinched the 2013 Pro Mazda Championship title.

The American's Mazda-powered Andretti Autosport car hit the 1.53-mile Canadian circuit featuring the branding of longtime Mazda Road to Indy supporter and Andretti Autosport partner AFS Racing. AFS Racing officially came on board before the Aug. 4 race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and will see Brabham
through the 2013 season and possibly beyond.

As part of the Mazda Road to Indy program, Brabham will receive the MAZDASPEED Motorsport scholarship helping to grant him a spot to race in 2014 as part of the next ladder step, Firestone Indy Lights; this will be Brabham's second consecutive year to win the scholarship after securing the USF2000 championship title in 2012 to ensure a ride in 2013's Pro Mazda fight.

"It was fantastic to have AFS Racing come on board and help us win the championship. Gary (Peterson) and AFS have helped many great young drivers in their careers and I'm honored to be now be part of that select group. I'm looking forward to exploring further development of my career with AFS and Andretti Autosport."

"AFS is proud to be a part of Brabham's success," said AFS Racing owner and former racer Gary Peterson. "He's on his way to winning the 2013 Pro Mazda Championship in the AFS/Andretti Autosport car after clinching both races in Canada. It has been a primary focus of AFS to mentor young, up-and-coming drivers. Brabham will be one of a long list of talented young drivers we've worked with over the last 11 years. I've had the pleasure to get to know each of these great drivers and their families and I'm looking forward to helping Brabham take the necessary steps forward in his career."

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

Furthermore, drivers Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz and Sebastian Saavedra have all carried the familiar red and yellow of AFS Racing.

 

I am quite exited to come back to long beach. It's a place that has threaded me very well in the past and want to keep that good momentum with Indycar. 

We have the speed and the race pace, we are lacking in couple aspects which I believe we have already sorted out from previous races. 

We've been very close to get into the top 6 in qualy and that's one of my objectives this weekend, but giving the team the first top 10 finish is our main focus. one of many this season

Seb 

INDYCAR Nation, INDYCAR's official fan club, has spoken and  James Hinchcliffe, Sebastian Saavedra and Zach Veach have all been voted 'Favorite Driver of the Year.' It was nearly a 'clean sweep' for Andretti Autosport, with Shelby Blackstock coming in second in the USF2000 category.

James Hinchcliffe is taking home the 'Favorite Driver' award in the IZOD IndyCar Series category for the first year. The Toronto native just completed his first full season with Andretti Autosport, after earning IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year in 2011. He finished the 2012 season eighth in the championship points standings with eight top-ten finishes in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. It became clear early in the season that "The Mayor of Hinchtown" would be a fan favorite when the grassroots "Hinch for Homepage" campaign hit social media and landed Hinchcliffe on the homepage of GoDaddy.com.

"It's really an honor to be selected by the fans as their favorite driver," said Hinchclife. "First, I get elected Mayor, then I got on the Go Daddy homepage and now I'm the fan's favorite. It's been a great year and I can't wait to get back on the track in 2013 and keep it up. But the fans are what it's really all about. I was a fan once, and still am, so to be picked by them is really special."

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