Former Indy Lights champion squad AFS Racing is pressing ahead with its plans to enter the IZOD IndyCar Series this season and hopes to be ready for the opening round in St Petersburg.
Gary Peterson's squad, which took Raphael Matos and JR Hildebrand to the 2008 and '09 Lights titles, had previously collaborated on occasional IndyCar entries in associated with Andretti Autosport, making a handful of top-level appearances with Franck Montagny in 2009 and Adam Carroll last year.
AFS and Andretti parted company over the winter, and AFS has now recruited former top Forsythe personnel Neil Micklewright and Tom Brown to lead its own independent IndyCar program, which will be run from Forsythe premises in Indianapolis.
"It is impossible to overestimate the challenges that await us in the IZOD IndyCar Series," said Micklewright. "We are assembling a first-class crew with which to build and enter reliable, fast cars for AFS Racing. The technical and performance issues are great, but we can rise to the challenge as we seek to establish ourselves in the premier form of motorsport in North America.
"The AFS team is excited to begin our campaign with the inaugural event of 2011 and get that first race under our belts."
Peterson said the addition of Micklewright as general manager and vice president of operations earlier this year was critical to AFS' growth.
"I couldn't be happier with what Neil has brought to this team," he said. "It is amazing to work with such a veteran of open-wheel racing. With the expertise of Tom Brown on our side as well as the entire IndyCar crew, this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting years in my racing career."