Proposed Qualifying Changes Could Scramble the Grid

One thing I like about Jay Frye is that he always looks ahead. With the potential to have grids at some races of 28 cars, Frye has a proposal to modify the qualifying procedure on road and street courses. Like anything, there are pros and cons.

The new qualifying setup would have three qualifying groups instead of to. Each group with have at least nine cars. Each group I assume gets 10 minutes to post a fast lap. The top three advance.

The fourth session is the run for the pole, with nine cars contending for the op spot instead of a Fast Six.

.I think some change is necessary. Twelve to thirteen cars all trying to get a clean lap in at the same time has lead to penalties of impeding and blocking. We also saw cars crawling along the track in a big group waiting to get a gap. It looked silly and some cars ran out of time to get a good time recorded. Fewer cars on track will help that situation.

Having just three cars move on in each group could make for some interesting grids. Watching the driver in fourth place with just a couple of minutes left in the group will provide lots of drama. We have seen qualifying groups in the past in which all of the fastest cars and pole favorites are bunched together. Some favorite or two always misses the final round. Under the proposed system, there will be some very good car/driver combinations staring 10th or further back. Starting position is crucial at several tracks.

I would like to see a second round to get down to a Fast Six. I think that is the most fun round of the current qualifying. I think the concern is time, but the series allows 60-75 minutes for qualifying and the session usually finishes early. The Round of Nine could be cut to eight minutes instead of 10 with a five minute guarantee.

If the series does have a Fast Nine, will the final round still be six minute? Will the cars get an extra two minutes since there they are increasing this segment by 50%?

There are still several things to work out, but I think the proposed system has a lot of positives. Drivers and teams will adjust to whatever the rules are. I think they will be happy with less traffic in a qualifying session. A final decision will not come until next month.

Detroit Unveils Downtown Track

From Indycar:

When the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear returns to its original home on the streets of Downtown Detroit in 2023, the event will connect with the neighborhoods and businesses in the Motor City like never before.

The Grand Prix will celebrate one more action-packed weekend at Belle Isle Park, June 3-5, 2022. Organizers confirmed Nov. 23 that a new era of the Detroit Grand Prix will begin June 2-4, 2023, when the event will bring a dynamic street-festival atmosphere to the Motor City. The new home of the Grand Prix will feature three full days of activities on some of Detroit’s most popular and active Downtown areas, including racing on a new 1.7-mile,10-turn street circuit along Jefferson Avenue, Bates Street, Atwater Street, St. Antoine, Franklin Street and Rivard.

The Grand Prix will provide unprecedented access to attendees with more than half of the event’s footprint along Jefferson Avenue and the Detroit Riverfront open free of charge. Grand Prix visitors will be able to enjoy complimentary access to the main fan activation areas at the event, including Spirit Plaza, Hart Plaza and the Riverwalk. Fans will be welcomed in these key areas that will feature live music, food, games and displays all weekend long, without the purchase of a Grand Prix ticket.

The unique design of the new Downtown Grand Prix layout will have minimal impact on traffic flow in Downtown Detroit as the track will not extend north of Jefferson Avenue. In fact, the transition to the new home of the Grand Prix in 2023 is expected to help boost the local economy, with increased foot traffic from event attendees for Downtown businesses and visitors helping to fill the local hotels, restaurants and bars throughout race weekend.

A recent economic study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Sports Management department with the Center for Sports Venues and Real Estate Development revealed that the transition of the Grand Prix to Downtown Detroit is expected to generate an estimated $77 million in total spending for the region, representing a 20 percent increase from the last Grand Prix economic study conducted in 2017.

“We are very excited to bring the Grand Prix back to Downtown Detroit beginning in 2023,” said Bud Denker, chairman of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear. “Bringing this annual international event back to the streets of Detroit will help our businesses Downtown, will shine a light on our beautiful Riverfront with an inclusive summertime festival, and it will open up new opportunities to engage and connect with our local neighborhoods and communities.”

The Grand Prix’s proposal to return the event to its original home on the streets of Detroit was unanimously approved Nov. 3 by Detroit City Council. Since September, Grand Prix organizers have met with over 1,000 people throughout the city, listening to feedback and ideas on the Downtown relocation from Detroit residents, business leaders, neighborhood groups, city officials and more.

Enthusiasm and energy for the return of the Grand Prix to Downtown Detroit across all these diverse groups has opened up new opportunities for engagement with the event for the future. Grand Prix organizers have already started planning neighborhood activities and events in Detroit that will begin in 2022, including youth art and culture opportunities, spirit competitions, STEM educational initiatives through racing and more.

The Grand Prix will work to create an even deeper level of engagement with Detroit neighborhoods. In the coming months, the event will be working to connect some of its key founding partners to neighborhoods across the city to support specific programming and projects. This community connection will extend throughout the year with unique experiences and engagement opportunities for city residents during Grand Prix weekend.

In addition to its enhanced community outreach, the Grand Prix will continue its local charitable efforts while it transitions to Downtown in 2023. With the help of its partners, the Grand Prix has helped make more than $13.5 million in improvements to its current home on Belle Isle since 2007. More than $5 million in additional funds have been raised for the Belle Isle Conservancy over the last six years through the annual Grand Prixmiere Gala hosted on race weekend.

Grand Prix organizers will continue to host the successful Grand Prixmiere in the future and have pledged to extend its support for Belle Isle and the Belle Isle Conservancy. As part of its continued efforts, the Grand Prix will contribute a portion of the funds raised at the annual charity gala to ensure that the iconic Scott Fountain on Belle Isle will be up and running for the start of race weekend each year and the historic fountain will flow throughout the summer for park visitors to enjoy.

The Grand Prix also plans to contribute to several other Detroit-area charities in 2023 through the funds raised at the Grand Prixmiere. On Tuesday, Denker announced that the first organization that the event will contribute to annually is the Detroit Public Safety Foundation (DPSF). Founded to support the efforts of Detroit’s first responders, the DPSF helps provide programs that make Detroit a safer place to live, work and visit.

“We appreciate all that Detroit’s first responders do every day to help keep our city safe,” Denker said. “We would not be able to bring the Grand Prix back Downtown and host a world-class event in the Motor City without the help of the Detroit Police Department and the Detroit Fire Department, and we feel it’s so important to support everything they do year-round through the important work of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation.”

The Detroit Grand Prix began as a Formula One race on the streets of Motor City in 1982. Formula One raced annually in Detroit from 1982-88. In 1989, the Detroit Grand Prix welcomed Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) as its primary series and the first INDYCAR races were hosted on the Detroit street circuit from 1989-91.

In 1992, the Grand Prix transitioned to Belle Isle with INDYCAR races on the island annually through 2001. After a six-year hiatus, the Grand Prix returned to Belle Isle thanks to the vision of Roger Penske and through the Downtown Detroit Partnership. Following successful events in 2007 and 2008, the Grand Prix paused for a few years due to the national recession and returned in 2012 with support from General Motors and Chevrolet serving as the event’s title sponsor.

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear was hosted each summer on Belle Isle since 2012, before the global pandemic forced the cancellation of the event in 2020. After returning in 2021, the Grand Prix will celebrate its final event on Belle Isle, June 3-5, 2022, before returning to its home in Downtown Detroit in 2023.

For more information on the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, visit www.DetroitGP.com. Previous Grand Prix ticketholders can renew their seats for next summer’s event, while all tickets for the 2022 Grand Prix will go on sale in January.

2022 Indycar Grid Update -Almost Full

While there are still some open seats, I think we can put the full time grid at 25 definite entries, with the possibility of a 26th car. The road/street portion of car 20 fell into the open category yesterday with the announcement of the US Air Force not returning to sponsor Conor Daly.

Seven teams, four Honda and three Chevrolet, are complete. They are:

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing:

Scott Dixon, Alex Palou, Marcus Eicssson, Jimmie Johnson/Tony Kanaan

Andretti Autosport:

Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Devlin DeFrancesco, Romain Grosjean

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing:

Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Christian Lundgaard

Meyer Shank Racing:

Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud.

Chevrolet:

Team Penske

Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Scott McLaughlin

Arrow McLaren SP:

Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist,

Juncos/Hollinger Racing:

Callum Ilott

A. J. Foyt Racing has confirmed one driver, Kyle Kirkwood, for car 14. The second car is believed to stay with Dalton Kellett, but there is no confirmation.

Dale Coyne Racing has not confirmed any drivers as yet, but it is assumed that David Malukas will be in car 18 and Takuma Sato will drive car 51. Them Vasser/Sullivan partnership has apparently left this team, but may surface with another team.

Ed Carpenter Racing has Rinus Veekay returning in car 21 and Carpenter in the 20 for the ovals, but now the 20 is up for grabs. Daly is still a candidate for the seat. Other possibilities are Ryan Hunter-Reay and Oliver Askew.

The final piece of the puzzle is Carlin. Will they be on the grid at all? Will Max Chilton drive the non-ovals and the Indianapolis 500?

There a number of teams looking to run selected races. the grid might swell to as many as 28 at some races. There should be 36 entries for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500.

I hope we have a bit more definition soon after Thanksgiving.

As winter begins to set in, I will remind you that the first on track day at St. Pete is just three months and one week away.

RP Funding- Not That RP- New Presenting Sponsor at St. Pete

The Firestone Grand prix of St. Petersburg has a new presenting sponsor, RP Funding. a full service direct mortgage lender owned by Robert Palmer.

Green Savoree released the following announcement this morning:

Public Ticket Sales Begin Tomorrow for 2022 Race Weekend

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Nov. 162021) – RP Funding has joined as the newest partner of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The Florida-based company is the event’s very first presenting sponsor which will take place Feb. 25-27, 2022, on the picturesque, waterfront street circuit in downtown St. Petersburg.

The event will now be titled as the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. An updated event logo has been developed recognizing the addition of this new presenting sponsor. Along with a strong on site brand presence through various trackside and spectator signage placements, RP Funding will have access to a number of experiential activities during the event.

“RP Funding is excited to partner with Green Savoree Racing Promotions. It is a thrill to have our name associated with this fantastic event and have it now be called the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding,” said Robert Palmer, president of RP Funding. “INDYCAR racing is a spectacular show, and RP Funding is honored to play a part in bringing this major event to the community.”

RP Funding is a direct mortgage lender with a primary focus on servicing Florida residents. Its customer-first approach offers no closing cost purchasing and refinancing. As part of its sponsorship, RP Funding will also heavily promote the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding across the state of Florida through dedicated advertising campaigns.

“We are thrilled to have RP Funding, a major Florida company, on board as a partner of this significant annual event in Florida,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by RP Funding. “Robert Palmer has built one of the fastest growing companies in the state, and his pace is similar to the growth we’ve seen with the Firestone Grand Prix. We look forward to having the team at RP Funding join us as the Firestone Grand Prix returns to a full-scale experience for our fans in 2022.”

3-Day tickets go on sale to the public starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. ET. For ticket pricing and event information, visit gpstpete.com or follow Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on social media using #FirestoneGP. Joining the E-Club also provides insider access to the latest news and offers. The complete racing and activities schedule will be released in early 2022. The updated Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding logo digital kit is available on the Media page of gpstpete.com.

About RP Funding:

Based in Central Florida, RP Funding is a full-service direct mortgage lender owned by Robert Palmer.  Serving primarily Florida, RP Funding has a combined staff of nearly 300 and revenues of $100 million annually.  In addition to RP Funding, the Robert Palmer Companies also features RP Title and Escrow providing residential and commercial real estate closing services, Listed.com, a residential real estate brokerage, ARMR Appraisal Management, a full-service residential real estate appraisal management company and Listing Power Tools, a company that helps real estate agents craft the perfect listing presentation. For more information visit www.robertpalmercompanies.com.

Can Kirkwood Raise the Bar at Foyt?

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Kyle Kirkwood is used to making teams more competitive. He sees the same potential at A. J. Foyt Racing. His ride for next year, the 14 car, had two top 10s and two top fives in 2021 and finished 16th in the final standings. One top 10 and one top five came in the first two races of the year. Kirkwood believes he can improve he team’s results.

“I’ve worked in positions before where I’ve started with a
lower level team, if I look back at Indy Pro 2000, and I was
racing for RP Motorsports, I think they finished fifth or sixth
in the championship, they missed a couple races, but I saw
what the team wanted to do, and I believed in them, and
we ended up winning nine of the 16 races with the
championship,” Kirkwood said yesterday in a press availability.

He gets more satisfaction out of moving up during a race than he does out of winning from the pole.

“I get more satisfaction
from progressing than I do just from winning. We go out
front, and like quite honestly, if I have a race where — like
for instance, Laguna this past year. I started from the pole
and just led the entire race, but there’s no progression
throughout the weekend because we just had a car that
was good and we just kept — which those ones aren’t the
ones that are super enjoyable for me. The ones like
Portland where we’re qualifying fourth or fifth and being
able to go right to the front again based off of what I’m able
to do and what we’re able to do with the car and progress
through the weekend I think pays way more satisfaction to
me than anything else.


If we can take a car that, hey, maybe we don’t qualify that
well but we put together a really good race car and we’re
able to make up a bunch of positions, that’s way more
satisfactory to me than just being out front and sailing off
into the distance. Yeah, so at the end of the day I think
progression creates a lot more satisfaction for me,” Kirkwood explained.

Kirkwood’s path to Indycar began when A. J. Allmendinger selected him out of a karting program. He has progressed wirth the help of scholarships earned by winnuing at every level. Kirkwood doesn’t think he would be where is today without the start from Allmendinger.

“Pretty much my entire
career has been based off of scholarships and people
bringing me along, so I’m very thankful. Really that starts
all the way back from AJ Allmendinger back in 2012 where
he sponsored me in a karting scholarship. From there I
had a Skip Barber scholarship, a Team USA scholarship,
and then F4 I had the scholarship to F3, and then from
USF2000 I had the scholarship Indy Pro, scholarship into
Indy Lights. Without any of that, I definitely wouldn’t be in
this position right now because as everyone knows, it costs
a lot of money to do racing, and in those lower levels you
can’t really bring sponsorship along because there’s not
much return on investment for sponsors. Without the
scholarships I would not be at this point,” he said.

“At the time I was racing —
what was I, 13 years old racing Minimax, I believe, and we
did a national race together.
He (Allmendinger) had the scholarship program come out, and I had a
fantastic season and he decided to pick me. That’s how
the relationship came about, and yeah, I don’t think — I
probably wouldn’t have been able to compete in a lot of the
races that I raced in in 2012 and 2013, I believe, if it wasn’t
for him.”

While some fans may be disappointed that A. J. Foyt Racing is where he will start his Indycar career, Kirkwood is happy to be with the team.

“Oh, man, I’m absolutely over the
moon right now to be driving for AJ Foyt Racing in the No.
14, filling in some really big shoes with Bourdais leaving
like Larry mentioned and doing some sports car stuff. I’m
at a loss for words because I’m ecstatic.”

Kirkwood has one year deal with Foyt. Is next season just a stepping stone as he waits for a seat at Andretti to open? Several drivers have tried to make the 14 car competitive and have fallen short. I think Kirkwood gives them the best chance move up in the standings, but it depends on the team Larry Foyt assembles behind him.


Kirkwood Signs with Foyt

Photo from A J Foyt Racing Twitter

2021 Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood signed with A. J. Foyt Racing for the 2022 Indycar season. I will have some thoughts on this tomorrow.

The team’s announcement:

WALLER, Texas (Nov. 10, 2021) — There is a buzz around the No. 14 Chevrolet fielded by A.J. Foyt — and it is not killer bees. AJ Foyt Racing has hired 2021 Indy Lights Champion Kyle Kirkwood to drive the No. 14 Chevrolet in the NTT INDYCAR Series next year.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kyle to the team,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “Obviously, he has been very successful on his climb through the Road to Indy Championships and his record speaks for itself. This deal came together rather quickly, but I’ve already been impressed with how Kyle thinks about racing and the maturity he seems to have for such a young driver. The NTT INDYCAR Series is as competitive as ever, and the challenges are great, but we feel Kyle will be a great asset as we take on those challenges and work to grow as a team.”

Kirkwood, 23, is the only driver to win championships in all three divisions of the Road to Indy (RTI) presented by Cooper Tires ladder system, and he did it in consecutive seasons: USF2000 in 2018, Indy Pro 2000 in 2019 and Indy Lights this year (the 2020 Indy Lights season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Kirkwood poses with his Indy Lights championship trophy at the Road to Indy Awards Dinner.

“I actually met Larry [Foyt] for the first time in 2018 at Road America when I was driving in USF2000 with Cape Motorsports,” revealed Kirkwood, who lives in Jupiter, Florida. “He was the first person in the INDYCAR paddock to show me around the car and explain the dynamics of what it takes to be an Indy car team and driver. From that moment, I felt very comfortable with the atmosphere of the team and now it has come to fruition that I will be driving the No. 14. It’s hard to explain in words the excitement I have to drive for such an experienced and legendary team. I know I will be filling some very big shoes, but I think it’s the perfect timing and group to be able to do so.

“Considering I have 19 years of experience driving, and it’s all led to this moment to becoming a full time Indy car driver — It’s truly a dream come true,” the Floridian continued. “It’s incredible seeing the completely unexpected path I took in previous years blossom into something I’ve always hoped for as a kid in karting.”

Kirkwood notched his 10th victory in the Indy Lights Series in the season finale doubleheader at Mid-Ohio. He won the first of two races.

This season’s Indy Lights championship battle came down to the final race weekend in October at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Driving for Andretti Autosport, Kirkwood clinched the title over runner-up David Malukas after winning the first race of the doubleheader and finishing fifth in the season finale. Kirkwood won 10 races (tying Greg Moore’s series record set in 1995) and seven poles in 20 races.

Kirkwood received his first kart at age four and began racing them a year later. He won numerous races and titles before moving into cars in 2016 when he competed in the inaugural F4 series. That same year he won a Team USA scholarship and competed at the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone. In 2017, Kirkwood dominated the F4 U.S. Championship with nine victories and six poles in 20 races.

The following year, he won the Cooper Tires USF2000 title with 12 wins in 14 races driving for Cape Motorsports. He won 15 of 17 races to claim the F3 Americas Championship powered by Honda. Driving for RP Motorsports in 2019, he won the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with nine victories and five poles in 16 races. His move to the Indy Lights division was delayed when the pandemic halted racing in the Road to Indy ladder series in 2020.

Kirkwood poses with his team after winning the Indy Pro 2000 title in 2019.

Kirkwood has tested an Indy car three times, most recently at the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

“What I’ve learned in my three Indy car tests is that the Indy Lights car and the Indy car are not massively different,” Kirkwood explained. “As we’ve seen with many drivers, it’s quite an easy transition. The best thing that you can take away from the RTI is the track experience. With minimal time during weekends, it’s crucial to maximize practice, having the track experience eliminates a period of time spent learning so you can solely focus on the car and driving.

“The biggest difference I’ve noticed in my tests is the tire. The Firestone tire creates a lot more grip. There are other differences, like steering weight, downforce and braking capabilities, but all of those are just a nice step forward from the Indy Lights car.”

When asked what he thinks his biggest challenge will be as a rookie driver entering the very competitive NTT INDYCAR Series, he responded, “I’m sure I will know more as I enter the season, but I know I will be against some drivers that have years and years of experience in the car and with the tracks. I know my lack of experience will hurt in some aspects, but hopefully my driving will be able to make up for most of it.”

Spoken with the confidence of a champion.Post not marked as liked

Detroit’s New Track Plan- Hit or Miss?

Photo: Keke Rosberg at the 1983 Detroit Grand Prix

The Detroit Grand Prix’s announcement last week that the 2023 event will be on the streets of downtown instead of Belle Isle caused quite a stir among the Indycar fan base. I don’t have a problem with moving the race venue. I have grown to appreciate Belle Isle. The racing has improved greatly the last few years. I do have a problem with the proposed track. It looks like a modified oval suited for Formula E.

The 1.7 mile track has 10 turns with a 7/10 mile straightaway longer than either straight at Bell Isle. The track at Belle Isle is 2.35 miles long with 14 turns. I would like to see one more curve section. The double sided pits look interesting and could be a factor during the race, but I was hoping for a mor exotic layout.

Racing on the streets of Detroit is not a new concept. Formula 1 raced downtown from 1982-1988. CART had events in the city from 19889-1992, then the race moved to Belle Isle starting in 1993and ending after the 2001 event. Indycar returned to Belle Isle in 2007 and 2008. The race in its current format came back in 2012.

The former downtown circuit was a much more proper track. Perhaps the track below can’t be reproduced because of construction or street alterations, but I hope they can find a way to make the proposed track more interesting. I like the first turn hairpin and chicane just before the finish line.

Promoters have also said that about 50% of the track will have free viewing access. That is great, but how ill the event be profitable? I guess they are counting on huge suite and hospitality revenues.

When I go to the Detroit Grand Prix next year, I will spend some time checking out the proposed layout and hopefully get to drive the proposed track. . It might be better than I think. I assume there will be some more detailed layouts available by then. It is risky to make such a radical change to what has been a successful race, but Roger Penske usually knows what he is doing.

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
2022.

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:

11.04.21

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.