An interesting group of drivers were at Barber Motorsports Park on Monday, testing IndyCars with four different teams. Drivers from Formula One, IndyCar, and Indy Lights were all chasing different goals and objectives today during the private test.
The headliner was Nico Hulkenberg, testing in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay was testing Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 machine. Andretti Autosport has tested Kyle Kirkwood and Devlin DeFrancesco multiple times this offseason, and the two drivers were back in the No. 26 and No. 29 Honda-powered cars today. Rounding out the list of drivers is David Malukas, who recorded the fastest lap on Monday in the No. 18 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.
Malukas put down a lap of 76.398 seconds in the afternoon, as the runner-up in the 2021 Indy Lights championship aims to make the jump to the NTT IndyCar Series next season. The 20-year old driver was actually the fastest in the morning session and the afternoon session.
Hunter-Reay was just behind Malukas, with a best time of 76.698 seconds. The 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner is searching for a seat for next season, after his long career with Michael Andretti’s team came to an end last month. He and Conor Daly are trying to secure the same seat, but Daly’s funding from the Air Force may not be known for another month or so.
Both DeFrancesco and Kirkwood were under 77 seconds on Monday. Kirkwood was faster in the morning with DeFrancesco quicker in the afternoon. Neither drivers have been confirmed by the team yet, but both are expected to be rookies in IndyCar next season.
Hulkenberg spent the morning session learning the car and the track, then was able to push in the afternoon. The German hadn’t driven a single-seater since his stand-in appearance for Racing Point in the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, when he finished eighth in place of Lance Stroll. Hulkenberg, who put down more than 100 laps on Monday, remains an Aston Martin F1 reserve driver.
The Arrow McLaren SP team has said they will not field a third full-time entry in 2022, but will certainly have a third seat for the Indy 500 and a few select races next season. McLaren boss Zak Brown told Motorsport that Hulkenberg is “towards the top of the list” of candidates for a future third car.
FIA Formula 3 race-winner Logan Sargeant was supposed to test for AJ Foyt Racing, but that was cancelled as the American’s deal to join the Williams Academy was announced over the weekend.
Video Credit: Chris Medland/RACER