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IndyCar Laguna Seca

Juri Vips working on returning to the IndyCar grid this year

The former Red Bull reserve driver could potentially return to the grid in the IndyCar Series before the end of the 2024 season.

Juri Vips, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Juri Vips provided the latest update regarding an opportunity to return to the grid of the IndyCar Series in a fourth entry for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL).

A 23-year-old Estonian, Vips contested two races at the end of 2023 in RLL’s No. 30 Honda, which began the year with Jack Harvey before a switch was made for Conor Daly to have a one-off outing at Gateway. Vips qualified and finished 18th in his debut outing at Portland International Raceway. Then, at Laguna Seca in the season finale, he delivered an impressive qualifying performance of 13th before being collected in an opening lap incident that led to a painful result of 24th.

Although Vips didn’t secure the ride for 2024 with RLL as the team opted for Haas F1 reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi to get the full-time nod in the No. 30 entry, he was kept on in a reserve role.

Juri Vips, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Juri Vips, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

During opening practice for this weekend’s IndyCar Series round at Laguna Seca, NBC Sports reporter Georgia Henneberry asked Vips if there was any truth to the rumors of returning to the grid at some point later this season.

“Yeah, I mean, we’re working on it,” Vips said. “There’s definitely intention from the team to do it, and we have the spare engine from the fourth car as well that (Takuma) Sato raced in the (Indianapolis) 500. So, it’s just putting all the pieces together to make it work, but we’re trying to make it happen.”

Vips shared that most of his time with RLL has been spent helping in the simulator.

“A lot of what we did over the winter was to help develop the car for the 500,” Vips said. “A lot of the other drivers did the sim as well, but I was doing most of the work there to help them and then, other than that, I’ve just been traveling to the races and kind of keeping up with what the team do with the developments themselves.”

Desire to run an oval race

And should Vips get an opportunity in the final nine races, all of which will include a switch to IndyCar’s hybrid unit, Vips expressed a desire to get on one of the three ovals, with doubleheaders set at Iowa Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile.

“I’m hopeful to get on the grid next year, so I’ll choose an oval but just to learn,” Vips said. 

“Results wise, it is what it is, but I would learn a lot because I’ve never done it. I don’t know actually which one it’s going to be, so yeah. We’re still figuring it out, but I would probably prefer an oval, but anything I am very, very happy with.”

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