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Indianapolis 500 Preview: Sebastian Saavedra

Photo credit: Michael Levitt (via IndyCar Media)

#17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Dallara-Chevrolet, AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport

Born: June 2, 1990

Home: Bogota, Colombia

2011 RESULTS: Saavedra failed to make last year’s running while driving in his first full IndyCar season for Conquest Racing. Conquest owner Eric Bachelart elected not to replace Pippa Mann, his second driver, with Saavedra for the race, as he had replaced Bruno Junqueira with Alex Tagliani in 2009.

CAREER BEST: After backing into a qualifying spot in 2010 for the then-fledgling Bryan Herta Autosport operation, thanks to a pair of untimely withdrawals by faster cars, Saavedra completed 159 of 200 laps before crashing out of the race and finishing 23rd.

OUTLOOK: After an up-and-down IndyCar rookie campaign with Conquest, Saavedra is back in Indy Lights full-time with AFS Racing and Andretti Autosport, a combination that produced two wins and a third place points finish in 2009. Saavedra has already taken his first Lights win of the season at Barber and will continue to be a threat for that championship.

Saavedra will be hungry to redeem himself at Indianapolis after last season’s disappointment, while AFS will be the same after missing last year’s race with Raphael Matos behind the wheel. AFS only qualified for two oval races last season, Kentucky and Las Vegas, with Wade Cunningham behind the wheel for both, while Saavedra generally struggled on the ovals more than road courses last season. This team will have some serious work to do come the month of May, but the familiarity between driver and organization may prove to be a serious asset.

– Chris Leone

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