Sunday 21 January 2018

Dempsey in funds drive to make grid for opener

Resourceful driver hopes to blaze at Indy Lights

Not for the first time in his career, Peter Dempsey finds himself in a race against time to make the grid for a season opener.

The perennially underfunded Ashbourne racer will find out today or tomorrow whether he will drive for Juncos Racing entry in the first round of the Firestone Indy Lights Series at St Petersburg, Florida on Saturday.

The 25-year-old is hot property on the US Indy Lights scene, where he scored podium finishes last year but, as in most other spheres of the sport, the right backing is required to oil the wheels.

The Chicago-based racer has proved to be impressively resourceful in keeping on track for Indy 500 glory since he moved to US racing five years ago and he's confident that he'll be on the grid soon, even if he misses this weekend's street race in Florida.

"I am working very hard to secure a drive at the moment," says the former Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Racing Driver of the Year.

"Right now, I don't have anything sorted but every day I feel I get a little closer to making something happen. I hope to have something confirmed by Wednesday or Thursday.

The good thing is if it comes together, it will be a season deal. Better late than never!"

Dempsey admits that the clock might just beat him in his efforts to race this weekend, but says that he feels confident that he can complete his deal in time for the second round of the series in Alabama the following week.

"There is the potential I will miss St Pete but I should be out for Barber at least."

An indomitable spirit, no little talent behind the wheel and an engaging personality have helped him gather a tight coterie of supporters intent on giving the former the best shot of racing in the Indianapolis 500.

While his career has not benefited from the sort of planning and expensive pre-event preparation that so many of his rivals enjoy, Dempsey has, nonetheless, shown impressive ability to make the most of his opportunities.

Five top-five finishes from nine races last year point to a talent worth developing and, should he make an appearance in St Petersburg this weekend, he can call on the experience of last year's third-place finish for 02 racing Technology.

When he does appear in the 12-round series he will be favoured to make an impression, although his Juncos team is new to the category.

Dempsey has been closely associated with Juncos for a number of seasons, having raced with distinction for the Florida-based outfit in Star Mazda before taking on driver tuition and engineering duties with the squad in the past couple of years.

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