Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced that Frenchman Jean Karl "J.K." Vernay will join the team's list of drivers for the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights campaign.
The 22-year-old former Red Bull Junior Team driver comes to the American open-wheel series after spending his junior career racing in Europe, most recently in the Formula 3 Euroseries where he won two races in 2009. His most recent career highlight was finishing second in the Macau GP.
"I'm very excited to come to America this season to race in Firestone Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt Motorsports," Vernay said. "I also want to thank my managers at CJ Motorsport and my sponsors for making it possible, along with the people at Volkswagen for encouraging me to go."
Vernay has completed two tests to date with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, on an oval at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, following that up with laps on the road course at Palm Beach International Raceway.
Vernay said, "After a great test last week, I can't wait to get more time in the car and do more development with my engineer. My goal is to win races and the championship again this year for the team and my supporters."
"J.K.'s experience and results in Europe are excellent, so we are quite pleased he has decided to further his career in the United States," team owner Sam Schmidt said. "We tested him at Homestead and Palm Beach and everything just clicked. The chemistry between JK and the team was excellent from the start and we're confident he'll be a great fit for the Sam Schmidt Motorsports organization in 2010."
In addition to a few years in various Formula 3 and Formula Renault series, Vernay did four races in A1GP with Team France between 2006 and 2007.
"There are not a lot of drivers who have the potential to win the Firestone Indy Lights title in their first season when transitioning to ovals," Charles Barrett, one of Vernay's managers at CJ Motorsport, said. "After watching J.K.'s first oval test and also knowing that he came in second in Macau in his rookie outing last year, I have no doubt that he has the racing talent, experience, and guts required to be a leading contender for the championship in his first season."