David Malukas

From David Malukas’ perspective, the wrist is one thing, the head is another, and the improvement of the former is helping the latter, he said.

Malukas, who dislocated and tore tendons in his left wrist in a mountain bike accident in early February, will get back to driving an NTT INDYCAR SERIES machine next week during a hybrid test at the Milwaukee Mile, the site of a doubleheader late in the season (Aug. 31-Sept. 1). He then will race for the first time since the accident in the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, June 23.

Malukas was named Friday to drive Meyer Shank Racing’s No. 66 AutoNation/Arctic Wolf Honda for the rest of the season. He said that’s the emotional boost he needed.

“It’s been a tough year,” Malukas told reporters prior to the 75-minute practice that kicked off the XPEL Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR. “It feels amazing just from a mental standpoint because after everything that’s happened, getting back in the car is obviously the best thing for me.”

Malukas expected a quick recovery from the mountain bike accident, but that’s not what happened. Doctors didn’t declare the wrist healed from Feb. 13 surgery until the last week of April, and then he had to strengthen the area. That took all of May, he said.

With Malukas’ timeline pushed well into the first half of the season, Arrow McLaren, which had signed him last September, released him April 29, another emotional blow to the 22-year-old driver. At the time, no seats were available, forcing Malukas to project 2024 as a likely lost season.

“We were trying to do talks for next year,” he said.

The opportunity with Meyer Shank Racing opened May 29 when the team moved on from sports car ace Tom Blomqvist. Helio Castroneves, a part-owner of the team, drove the car in last weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, finishing 25th, and he is in the car this weekend.

With Tuesday’s Milwaukee test and a confirmation to compete in the season’s final 10 races, Malukas can see his path back to series relevancy.

“I can actually go out there and show myself and the performances I can give, and I feel that’s pretty much needed,” he said.

MSR co-owner Michael Shank said Malukas brings “both experience and potential” alongside veteran Felix Rosenqvist, who won the pole for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach and has posted five top-10 finishes in six races this season.

Malukas has long been considered one of the young drivers to watch in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, chasing Kyle Kirkwood to the INDY NXT by Firestone championship in 2021. Kirkwood won 10 of the 20 races this season; Malukas won seven.

Malukas’ first 34 races in this series were with Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports. He registered nine top-10 finishes, including a pair of podium finishes – a second in 2022, a third in 2023 – at World Wide Technology Raceway, and he finished fourth in the 2023 race at Texas Motor Speedway. All of those are oval tracks, and there are six such races left on this year’s schedule.

Malukas credited his recovery to the help of the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team led by medical director Dr. Julia Vaizer and Dr. Terry Trammell, and he said Arrow McLaren has continued to support him through its physical therapy program “to make sure I get back to full health,” he said.

Malukas has been wearing a compression glove as often as possible to assist with blood flow, and he ices the wrist regularly to combat the predictable inflammation. The combination of efforts has allowed him to work extensively on the racing simulator, where even steering wheel kickbacks can be simulated.

“We’ve had no problems at all,” Malukas said. “We’ve been trying to be on the simulator every day just making sure I can do as many laps as I can.”

That means Malukas is on the road back, mentally as well as physically.

“The season started off with a real high (signing with Arrow McLaren) and then also went to a really big low,” he told NBC on Friday’s Peacock broadcast. “I had to stay strong and keep smiling, knowing that greatness comes to those who wait, and opportunities will come.

“(The opportunity) came a lot quicker than I was expecting, and I’m here for it. The hand’s ready, everybody’s ready, and I’m just so happy for the opportunity.”

Sunday’s race at Road America airs at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.