Both HVM Racing and Andretti Autosport have revealed plans to field cars in series lower down the Road to Indy career ladder, with the former snapping up Junior Strous for its first Firestone Indy Lights campaign.

Dutchman Strous won both legs of the St Petersburg Indy Lights double-header in 2009 and led the points standings early on as a result, but faded as the year went on, eventually dropping out with sponsor problems. Originally due to return to the series in 2010 with Team Moore Racing, he found himself usurped by James Hinchcliffe before being claimed by HVM with the intention of progressing him to the full IZOD IndyCar Series.

"I'm now closer to reaching my ultimate goal and that's racing the big IndyCars," Strous said, "If I have a chance to improve my position, I'll always go for it. The HVM partnership offers me good opportunities both for the short and long term in my racing career. HVM is the place to be to achieve my goals."

HVM Racing team principal and owner Keith Wiggins recognizes the benefits of a ladder system to develop drivers for the premier-level IZOD IndyCar Series and welcomes the opportunity to work with the young driver.

"Junior is a proven talent," the ex-pat Briton said, "He's won races, so we know he has good skills behind the wheel. We will start him in a Lights car and plan to do some testing with him in the [IndyCar] at some point this season. I have no doubt that, with continued development, he will be in an IZOD IndyCar Series car in the future."

Strous will run with sponsorship from Shell and the European-based Car Channel Television Network, which has acquired the live television broadcasting rights for the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights in the Netherlands.

"The IZOD IndyCar Series has a large fan base in Europe," said Car Channel CEO Etienne Marijnissen, "Junior driving for Keith Wiggins and HVM is a great development for European televisions viewers, who will get a better understanding and feeling for the fast and exciting Indy Racing League. We will follow Junior and the team on and off track. It will be an exciting racing season in the highest level of motorsports."

HVM Racing currently fields a lone entry in the IZOD IndyCar Series, with the #78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing car to be driven by Atlantic Championship graduate Simona de Silvestro.

Andretti Autosport, meanwhile, recently announced that it had signed 15-year old Sage Karam to drive in the 2010 USF2000 National Championship, the entry level series for the IRL's Road to Indy.

Comfort Revolution, a developer and distributor of specialty bedding mattresses and accessories, and The Michael Fux Foundation will sponsor the effort.

"We look forward to bringing Sage on board as Andretti Autosport's first USF2000 National Championship driver and hope to make him the first driver to go all the way through the 'Road to Indy' programme - all the way to the IZOD IndyCar Series," said team chairman, president and CEO Michael Andretti, "I've watched him grow to become an accomplished young driver, and I think his experience in karting and Skip Barber will serve him well this year in the USF2000 series. I'm very confident Sage will be successful with Andretti Autosport."

The Nazareth, Pennsylvania native has spent the last few years competing in the Skip Barber National championship, as well as World Karting Association events. He was the only American driver to compete in both a national karting championship and an open-wheel professional series full time in 2009.

"The opportunity to drive for my mentor, Michael Andretti, has always been a dream of mine," Karam said. "I've worked very hard to get to this point, but I know I have a long way to go. Driving in the USF2000 with Andretti Autosport is the best way to reach my ultimate goal: racing in the IZOD IndyCar series and winning the Indy 500."

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