Abel Motorsports, which in recent years has competed in the F3 Americas, F4 US and USF2000 series, took a step up the Road to Indy ladder Friday when team principal Bill Abel announced that the Louisville-based team will field two cars for the 2019 Pro Mazda campaign. The announcement, made at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis, came after Abel purchased equipment from Cape Motorsports in early November, and the team was part of the Pro Mazda open test at Homestead Speedway earlier this week.

Abel already has one car and driver combination in the books, as Jacob Abel was confirmed as the full-season pilot of the No. 51 car. Abel, who will turn 18 the weekend of the 2019 series opener at St. Pete in March, drove in three different series (F3, F4, USF2000) in 2018 and posted four Top 10 finishes in 12 F4 starts and garnered another Top 10 in the USF2000 series at Road America last June.

After a late-season move to the F3 Americas series, Abel scored points in nine of his 11 events and four podiums as a teammate to Kyle Kirkwood, who won 15 of 17 races and ran away with the series title.

“I have a lot to learn in these cars, but they’re a lot of fun, they’re fast and they demand a lot from the driver,” Abel said in a release. “We’ll be ready to contend for podiums when the season kicks off. I can’t wait.”

While the driver of the second car, which carried the No. 8 and was driven by Kirkwood at the Homestead test, is still to be announced, all signs point to the 20-year-old from Jupiter, Fla. to be in the seat, if a deal can come together. Given the success the Abel/Kirkwood pairing had in 2018, the two parties working together again would be a comfortable fit.

Kirkwood is arguably one of the best young talents in American racing, and has had more success over the last two years than any other junior open wheel driver in the world. After winning the F4 title in 2017, Kirkwood won 28 of the 32 races in which he competed in 2018 and won both the F3 and USF2000 championships.

Kirkwood, who was at Friday’s press conference, likes Abel Motorsports’ chances in the Pro Mazda series.

“(Abel) has proven themselves the last couple years (in different series),” Kirkwood said. “I’m looking forward to what they can do in coming seasons. They are a knowledgeable group of people and that carried over into Pro Mazda (in testing).”

This will be Abel Motorsports’ fifth season in open wheel racing, and the goal is, as a team, to continue climbing the Road to Indy ladder. Bill Abel was a vintage racer before his son Jacob began getting serious with his racing,

“As we’ve grown in the last several years, we don’t really see an end, we will continue developing our drivers and hopefully the team will develop as well,” Abel said. “We like the Road to Indy, with the professionalism and the competitions and the cars we’ve seen, and we want to continue on that path.”

After another series test at Homestead March 2-3, Abel will make its Pro Mazda debut March 8-10 at St. Pete.

In other news…

Rossi to Penske?

While the headlines, and social media, buzzed a little Friday morning when it was announced that IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi was hired by Penske Racing, it was all a false alarm.

Sort of.

While Rossi will be back at the wheel of his Andretti Autosport No. 27 Honda in 2019, he will be driving for Roger Penske, albeit with his sports car operation.

Penske announced in a release that Rossi drive in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Rossi will team up with full-time Acura Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor behind the wheel of the No. 7 Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype International (Dpi).

Rossi will be replacing Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal on the team, because, well, the 6-foot-4 Rahal is too tall:

The 2019 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship begins with the Roar Before the 24 January 4-6, followed by the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 26.

F3 Americas and F4 US Series announce 2019 schedules

Also at the PRI Show, the Sports Car Club of America revealed the 2019 schedules for both the F3 Americas and F4 US series. While the series will return to tracks at Road Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Virginia International Raceway, Mid-Ohio and Circuit of the Americas in 2019, a couple of new tracks were added to the docket.

In an interesting twist, the F3 Americas series will join the IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park the weekend of April 5-7, and both series will compete at Sebring Raceway Sept. 13-15. The F4 US series is committed to six tracks next year, while F3 Americas has five tracks on the schedule, with a sixth TBA.

Here are the schedules:

F4 US:

Road Atlanta, April 18-20

Pittsburgh Intl. Race Complex, June 21-23

Virginia International Raceway, June 26-28

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, August 8-10

Sebring Intl. Raceway, Sept. 13-15

Circuit of the Americas, November 1-3

F3 Americas:

Barber Motorsports Park, April 5-7

Road Atlanta, April 18-20

Pittsburgh Intl. Race Complex, June 21-23

Virginia International Raceway, June 26-28

Sebring Intl. Raceway, Sept. 13-15

TBA