DeFrancesco Happy with Rookie Season, Eager for 2023

Rookie Devlin DeFrancesco has learned a lot and believes he has had a good first year in Indycar. I spoe with the Andretti Autosport driver this morning.

Assessing the season, Defrancesco said,

“You know, I’d say probably a 6.5 out of 10. Last race was a strong showing, for me; the test we had your week and a half ago was very strong for me by the end,. So understandingthe season has just been getting better and better and nothing more to secure two strong finishes.”

While DeFrancesco is happy with his improved qualkifying, he is hoping to translate starting positions into great results.

” I really think it’s all coming. I think this weekend could be a very strong weekend for me. I’m very comfortable with the car now knowing what I need to go faster what I need in certain times, with balance and things like that. And if you look at even the last few test days, we’ve done from start to finish, we don’t seem to get lost anymore. It’s just a constant progression through the day. And that was especially our day here. It’s what it seemed to be. So even our day in Laguna. You know, we started off fairly strong, we try to keep things Things seem to quite work. And we went back to where we we knew we were good in tuned on it. So that’s really been I think, what’s been helping me a lot recently.”

Leasrnuing how to work with the red alternate tires had been a work in progress this season for the rookie.

“Knowing what you need from the black to the red tire is tricky because you don’t get a lot of time on the right tires a lot more front a lot more grip in general. So I think knowing what you can balance and the balance when you have to take is critical and it’s been more often than I have gotten it right this year. But now knowing what I need it’s definitely coming to.”

For the final two races of 2022, DeFrancesco will be happy to match speed with his teammates/

“You know, just know similarspeed to my teammates and their security, this leader circle I know this is what’s important for myself. It’s a form of mentoring for my team and sponsors. “

DeFrancesco, like the rest of us, wishes for a shorter off season so he can apply this season’s lessons.

“100% That’s mainly what I’m looking forward to, you know, it’s a shame the offseason is so long, you know, I wish it wasn’t as long as it was but it’d be good to get into these last two races strongly and just build on this momentum going into next season.”

The 2023 Grid- Clearer and Murkier

Photo: Devlin Defrancesco at Long Beach

Just when you thought Silly Season was over, the NTT Indycar Series grid for 2023 became both clearer and cloudier in the last week.

Devlin DeFrancesco will stay in the 29 car for Andretti Autosport in 2023. He has had a somewhat uneven season, but DeFrancesco has qualified well in several of recent races. He started ninth at Gateway

Colton Herta

Formula 1 rumors have again risen around Colton Herta. Red Bull has made inquiries about his filling one of the Alpha Tauri seats which may soon be vacant. Herta is still shy of the required 40 points for an F1 super license. My guess is he is back in the 26 for one more year. Herta would likely be a reserve driver in F1 in 2023.

The Newest Hottest Driver

I thought it was a foregone conclusion that David Malukas would be back with dale Coyne Racing next year. The rookie has begun to get notice from other teams, and his second place at gateway two weeks ago really cranked up the free agent buzz.

David Malukas

There seems to be great interest from Chip Ganassi Racing, which could have as many as two openings in 2023, depending on the Alex Palou situation with McLaren, and whether Jimmie Johnson returns with Carvana.

This puzzle may not be resolved for awhile. My fear is that Malukas may end up the odd man out. That would be a huge mistake for the series.

Where Do Indy Lights Drivers Fit?

Linus Lundqvist will most likely win the Indy lights championship and have three Indycar races, including the Indianapolis 500, guaranteed. If Malukas moves to Ganassi, could Lundqvist move into the seat at Coyne?

Matthew Brabham and Hunter McElrea are also seeking Indycar rides. Ernie Francis, Jr. may also be looking to move up, at least for the 500.

Indycar in2023 will have the usual problem of too many drivers seeking too few seats. The grid is expected to expand next season, but the driver situation will only improve when the elusive third OEM appears.

DeFrancesco: Indycar Suits My Style More

Devlin DeFrancesco knows what he likes, and he likes drivcing Indycar. The NTT Indycar Series newest rookie met the media this morning. he is excited to move up from Indy Lights. DeFrancesco thinks Indycar’s more aggressive style suits him better than racing in Indy Lights did.

“Honestly, personally, I found
the car suited me much more. I got to grips with it quite
quickly” DeFrancesco said. “Definitely from midday onwards in Sebring I was
already coming to grips with it and then Barber it didn’t take
me that long to get up to speed. I really enjoy the car. I
can’t wait to be in the thing again, and I’m really excited to
get going for next year.”

The Canadian driver has big plans for his first year in the series. He shared those goals.

“There’s much more aero, as well, so able to carry a lot
more momentum speed and be a lot more aggressive in
the medium high-speed stuff, as well, which suits me quite
more. I’m excited to get going racing, try reds out for the
first time, seeing what those do in qualifying. There’s a lot
of stuff that I’m looking forward to doing, and I think there’s
definitely going to be some good results in the pipeline for

For sure there are going to be
some races where I think we’re going to be very
competitive and at the front, and I’d like to go home with
Rookie of the Year and I’d like to be fighting more towards
the front, especially by the end of the year. That’s
definitely my plan.”

As for which tracks DeFrancesco believes he will be strongest, he named the higher speed road courses and the ovals.

“I’ve always seemed to be very strong at the higher speed
tracks with high-speed corners. Ovals, as well, is
something I’ve taken to quite quickly and seem to quite
enjoy. Definitely the higher speed stuff I’m looking forward
to getting at, especially the ovals, Barber, fast tracks like
that, St. Pete, as well. I was quite quick there in Lights, so
looking forward to getting back there for INDYCAR.”

Like all rookies, we will see if his race craft meshes smoothly with his speed.

Michael Andretti Talks F1, Indy Lights

Michael Andrerti put to rest rumors about his attempted purchase of the Formula 1 Alfa Romeo team. it was not financial.

Andretti said, ” I’d just like to
put an end to some of these rumors that the deal fell
through because of financial reasons. That couldn’t be
further from the truth. That had nothing to do with that. It
basically came down to control issues in the final hours of
the negotiations. That’s what killed the deal.
I’ve always said if the deal is not right, we’re not going to
do it, and in the end it wasn’t right. So we continue to look
for other opportunities.”

Andretti explained that he would not be in control of the team had the purchase gone through, so he withdrew.

Andretti also said that Colton Herta would have been placed in the Formula 1 program and Kyle Kirkwood would have taken over the 26 car.

Will Kirkwood return to Andretti? It won’t be in 2022, but Andretti said,

“Yeah, so from that standpoint, that’s why unfortunately at
the moment we don’t have a spot for Kyle, but that’s not to
say we won’t in the future. We’re definitely going to watch
him, and I’m hoping he gets a full-time ride to get
experience, and we’ll see how that goes.
The goal is to get him back in our family one day again.”

Andretti emphasized that DeFrancesco did not take a seat from Kirkwood. There was a three year plan to put DeFrancesco in an Indycar seat.

Indy Lights was another hot topic during the press conference. Andretti strongly believes in the program and he is happy that Roger penske brought the junior series back into the Indycar paddock.

“I believe it’s the foundation for our series. You look at the talent that
comes out of it every year. 90 percent of our drivers have
come through that. That’s where our future stars are.
That’s where the future is of our sport. For me, it was very
important that we keep it alive in any way we could.”

Andretti also shared his thoughts on the absence of the Freedom 100.

“I guess we can be a little bit
different on our views on that. I think he’s looking at the big
picture, I guess, and that is protecting the 500, and he’s
just always worried that if there’s a bad accident or
whatever on Friday it could affect Sunday’s race.
You can’t argue with that, but having said that, I think it was
a great race for experience for these drivers, and it always
put on a great show. My gosh, everybody was excited for
that race to see what was going to happen, and it always
came down to inches at the end of the race.
It is a little disappointing for sure not having the race there,
but it is what it is.”

Steinbrenner Staying Put

George Steinbrenner IV has no plans to strike out and form an independent team. He has been a part of Andretti for six years and sees no reason to leave at this time. Steinbrenner said,

“You know, that — if the
team(time) ever comes where it sort of makes sense from an
operational/financial standpoint, then sure, absolutely it
would be awesome. But again, so far there hasn’t really
been the opportunity or really the reason to sort of leave
what the program is that we’ve had going on.
Sure, yeah, it’s definitely something we’ve thought about,
talked about, looked into, but don’t really have a timeline or
timetable for when or if it would be a reality.”

I really can’t think of a good reason for him to leave, either.

on Freedom 100


DeFrancesco Confirmed at Andretti

Image from Andretti Autosport

It’s not a surprise, but now it is official. Devlin DeFrancesco will drive the number 29 car for Andretti Autosport. The 29 29 is the Steinbrenner/Andretti entry. The statement from Andretti Autosport:


Graduating from the Road to Indy ladder, Devlin DeFrancesco has been confirmed to pilot Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport’s No. 29 Honda for the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The Italian-Canadian driver made his first outings behind the wheel of an Indy car at two recent test days with Andretti Autosport and will make his first official race start on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida in February.   

“We’re thrilled to keep Devlin in the Andretti Autosport family as he makes his final jump up the Road to Indy ladder into INDYCAR,” said Michael Andretti, CEO and Chairman, Andretti Autosport. “Devlin has been a great addition to our Indy Lights program and has showed a lot of growth and strength at the recent test days. I think he’ll continue to grow with INDYCAR and I’m really glad that we could again partner with George and the Steinbrenner Racing team for the No. 29.” 

“Two years ago, we started a journey with Devlin with the intent to one day take him all the way to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and I’m thrilled that day has come,” said George Steinbrenner IV, CEO, Steinbrenner Racing. “From Indy Pro 2000 to Indy Lights and now to INDYCAR, he really impressed with his two initial days in an Indy car and we’re excited to see him in action in 2022.”

After making his Road to Indy debut in 2020 with Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport in Indy Pro 2000, DeFrancesco has quickly ascended the Road to Indy ladder moving into Indy Lights in 2021 and ultimately into the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2022. DeFrancesco earned the Rookie of the Year title and finished second in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship in 2020 and scored two podiums, nine top-five finishes, and 18 top-10 finishes in his Indy Lights debut season in 2021.  

“I am incredibly grateful to Michael (Andretti) and George (Steinbrenner IV) for the belief they have shown in me over the past two seasons moving up the Road to Indy ladder,” DeFrancesco said. “To now take that final step into INDYCAR with two of the world’s biggest names in sports – Andretti and Steinbrenner – is an incredible opportunity that I can’t wait to take full advantage of. I have three very experienced teammates to learn from and that is what makes this opportunity even more exciting. To get to race in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES with Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport and to contest the Indianapolis 500 is a dream come true and I’m so looking forward to getting started.” 

DeFrancesco rounds out the Andretti Autosport 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES lineup joining already announced drivers Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda), Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda) and Romain Grosjean (No. 28 DHL Honda).  

The 21-year-old’s debut INDYCAR season will again be supported by his 2021 Indy Lights sponsors including hydrogen production and dispensing fueling infrastructure innovators, PowerTap Hydrogen; Kimoa – the fashion, clothing, and accessories brand founded by Fernando Alonso; world-class racing simulator manufacturer AIS; Apple’s largest premium retail partner, Simply Mac; Seattle, WA-based Jones Soda Co; software and services company Fyllo; Seattle-WA and Miami, FL-based Sol Yoga.