Indy Lights champ testing for Conquest next week

J.K. Vernay making first IndyCar test at Sebring

Coming off his 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship, J.K. Vernay will take his first step toward moving up to the IZOD IndyCar Series on Monday. The Frenchman will get behind the wheel of an IndyCar for the first time in a test session for Conquest Racing at Sebring International Raceway.

Last year, Vernay earned five victories and eight podium (top-3) finishes en route to a 23-point victory in the FIL title race over Canadian pilot James Hinchcliffe. In all, Vernay collected 10 top-five finishes in 13 races.

Sebring isn’t an unfamiliar track for Vernay, who tested there with his FIL squad, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, last season. But that doesn’t mean he won’t have to learn anything new, as the IndyCars are much different beasts from the Lights machines.

“I’m looking forward to learning as much as possible about the car and working well with my engineer and the team all while putting in good lap times,” said Vernay in a press release. “It will also be nice to return to a road course. The last road course I was on was in Sonoma about six months ago.”

Conquest has recently become linked with Paul Tracy after SPEED Channel’s Robin Miller reported that Tracy was working with the team’s owner, Eric Bachelart, on a full-time deal.  Then there’s the matter of Belgium’s Bertrand Baguette, who wound up being Conquest’s steady driver as a rookie last year and did a solid — if unspectacular — job. Will he return for a second IZOD IndyCar Series season?