Pato O’Ward will make a full season move to Indy Lights this season after signing with Andretti Autosport.
He joins three drivers who remain in the Andretti line-up from 2017, with race-winner Colton Herta staying on together with Dalton Kellett and Ryan Norman.
Eighteen-year-old Mexican O’Ward made his Indy Lights debut last year with long-time partner Team Pelfrey, but dropped out after two rounds because of budget constraints.
“I want to thank the whole Andretti Autosport team for the incredible opportunity they are giving me,” said O’Ward.
“I have been working really hard with Michael [Andretti] and J-F [Thormann] to put this deal together, and I’m more than proud to be a part of such a prestigious team like Andretti.
“I can’t wait to start working with everyone and I’m sure its going to be an awesome year.”
Andretti team owner Michael Andretti said: “We’re excited to have Pato [O’Ward] join our Indy Lights family in 2018.
“Pato had a strong, successful Pro Mazda season in 2016 and has been working hard to make the jump to Indy Lights.
“I’m confident his talent will blend well with Colton, Dalton and Ryan and I’m looking forward to seeing our drivers on the podium this season.”
O’Ward raced in Pro Mazda in a 2015 and ’16, finishing second in the standings to Aaron Telitz in the latter year despite winning six of the first seven races.
He was on the podium in his short spell in Indy Lights last year, and after switching to the IMSA SportsCar championship’s PC class, managed to win the title in that.
Telitz won twice in his first season in Indy Lights, finishing sixth in the standings, and was announced last week for a second season with Belardi Auto Racing.
The 26-year-old American only has the budget for a part-season so far, meaning that although he is confirmed to be on the grid at St. Petersburg, there is no guarantee he will be at Watkins Glen to repeat his victory from last year.
He and his management team are still in continued talks about financial support though, and are confident they can pull the budget together to contest the whole year.
“It?s a great feeling to be coming back with Belardi Auto Racing to have another go at the Indy Lights Championship,? Telitz said.
?This will be the first time in my career that I get to drive for the same team in back-to-back years. The continuity is already there and we will be a force from the drop of the green flag at St. Pete.
?As always, funding could be a limiting factor for me this season as I will be working to finish out my budget throughout the season.
“Brian [Belardi, team owner of BAR] has been gracious enough to work with me and figure out how we can make it work this year. I want to offer a massive thanks to my long-time partner Rice Lake Weighing Systems, who have been with me since Formula Fords and continue to ensure my racing career is able to flourish.”
There are only seven confirmed entries so far, with three remaining seats at BAR, the third Juncos Racing entry and all of the cars at Pelfrey and Carlin yet to be filled ahead of the?season starting at St. Petersburg on March 10.