Peter Dempsey will have a shot at earning the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights Series championship, having been confirmed at Belardi Auto Racing for the full season on Thursday.
Dempsey has had two fractured seasons in the series. He started 2011 with Genoa Racing but the team withdrew at the Milwaukee weekend. He picked up a few races with Andretti Autosport in the second half of the year; all told in nine starts he had four podium finishes.
He didn't have a ride to start 2012 but raced two events for Younessi Racing, flattering the car's pace, before stepping into Belardi's No. 9 car at Toronto for the second half of the year. He had top-five finishes in the three races he finished, with DNFs in the other two.
The 26-year-old Irishman is the winningest driver in Star Mazda series history and has also won the Walter Hayes Trophy three times.
“First off I want to thank Brian (Belardi), team manager John Brunner and everyone at Belardi Auto Racing who has made this possible,” he said. “They gave me a great opportunity to drive for the team at the end of the 2012 season, and that was a very enjoyable end to my year.
“When I came to the team, I really felt at home and wanted; that is a great feeling for me. After our last race at Fontana, Belardi was the team I wanted to remain with and grow with, and I am very excited that we are in the position to announce this signing so early. This really gives us the chance to properly prepare for the first race next season. For me, this is the first time in my American motorsport career where I have had a secure ride, and I could not be happier to have that with Belardi Auto Racing.”
“I cannot express how happy I am to have Peter back with our team in 2013,” Belardi said. “He is one of the most talented drivers in the Firestone Indy Lights Series, and we will give him all the tools necessary to help him be successful. The entire team is looking forward to working with Peter again.”
Jorge Goncalvez recorded the team's best championship finish, fifth in 2011 in the team's first season. Dempsey was the lone driver testing for the team in a Lights car at this week's Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.