2012 Indy 500: Saavedra enjoys the challenge of pulling double duty at Indy

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SPEEDWAY – About 15 years ago the traditional double duty at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway involved an open wheel and stock car machine.

With the times of the IndyCar’s 500 mile race in Indianapolis and NASCAR‘s 600 mile race in Charlotte no longer matching up, the only opportunity to do such now comes within an open wheel series itself.

Still only a few have chosen to attempt racing in both the Freedom 100 race in the Indy Lights Series on Memorial Day Friday and then turning around on Sunday to race in the Indianapolis 500.

Sebastian Saavedra has made the decision to do it twice.

“It’s a challenge for sure,” said the 21-year old driver from Colombia who will attempt to run in both races for a second time in three years. “Everytime we have something like this, we can actually make possible I love to go for it.”

Saavedra did so back in 2010 when he was a member of Bryan Herta Autosport, competing in both the Freedom 100 and the Indianapolis 500. He would end up finishing ninth in the lights race and 24th in the big race and learned a lot about balancing the two different machines at the same time.

“The challenge is going to be to switch on the car you are driving at the moment,” said Saavedra of trying to focus on one series at a time during the next two weeks. “The practice helps a lot, but in the end its how much can you focus on each car without making a mistake remembering the other car.

“I look forward to it, I think we have a great amount of people behind us.”

Just completing the dual competitions will not be enough for Saavedra, who has equally compelling hopes in both series. For one he’ll want some redemption in the Indianapolis 500 from a year ago, when he failed to qualify as a member of Conquest Racing.

Also a strong performance could help him move closer to more opportunities in the Izod IndyCar Series, in which he has 16 career starts.

Still his focus could be primarily on the Indy Lights Series, where at the moment he is the leader by a single point after a win and a pair of podiums in the first three races of the season.

“I want to win the series,” said Saavedra of the Indy Lights. “We’ve got to keep up. It’s a long championship and we’ve got to keep the good work, keep focused and try to transfer that good start, good momentum to the IndyCar Series as well.”

Luckily he’ll get two cracks at it this May.