DragonSpeed is set to return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2022 with an all-star lineup featuring NTT INDYCAR SERIES athletes Devlin DeFrancesco, Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward alongside Bronze-ranked Daytona veteran Eric Lux.
The US-flagged, Barcelona, Spain-based DragonSpeed team – LMP2 Pro/Am class winners at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans – has its sights set on returning to Daytona’s victory lane after taking the LMP2 laurels at the Rolex 24 in 2019 and 2020. DeFrancesco and Lux were part of the DragonSpeed squad which claimed third in the 2021 race and are back with new teammates O'Ward and Herta in 2022.
"I think it's a great lineup which gives us a real shot at winning,” O’Ward said. “We’re all part of the same generation, so coming together for this race makes a very cool reunion. It's a long few days in Daytona and it helps to be able to enjoy the experience with your teammates. Sportscar racing is very different from what we do in INDYCAR, with the priority on achieving a balance in the car that all the drivers are comfortable with.”
Arrow McLaren SP INDYCAR ace O'Ward won the LMPC class on his Rolex debut in 2017, while Andretti Autosport INDYCAR star Herta is also a former winner with BMW in the GTLM class in 2019.
Both O'Ward and Herta scored INDYCAR victories in 2021. Herta ending the season with back-to-back victories to put him at three for the season, while O’Ward was locked in a championship battle with Alex Palou and Josef Newgarden down to the final race of the season in Long Beach. O’Ward finished third in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings with two wins.
"I’m pretty comfortable at Daytona, but I’ve never driven a prototype before, so I’ll be focused on getting to grips with that,” Herta said. “The fact that DragonSpeed have consistently delivered a great car at Daytona is a confidence boost, and I can't wait to get stuck in with Devlin and Pato. … Driving in races like the Rolex is so good for your development as a driver, preparing you for different situations and making you more adaptable in terms of race strategy and driving approach."
Italian-Canadian DeFrancesco, who enters his rookie NTT INDYCAR SERIES season in 2022 as stablemate to Herta in his Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Honda, makes his fourth LMP2 start at Daytona.
"The Rolex 24 is always an awesome way to kick off the racing season, and I'm really looking forward to returning with DragonSpeed and having my old friends Pato and Colton as part of the package,” DeFrancesco said. “I have a big season ahead of me stepping into INDYCAR, but I always find Daytona an energizing start to the year. I expect that will be even more so this January sharing the experience with Colton and Pato. I really enjoyed driving with Elton and the team last year, and to come back with this line-up in 2022 is just brilliant."
The bonds between the three INDYCAR drivers run even deeper, as they all rose through the ranks together starting in karts and continuing up through Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the last rung on the ladder to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
A former IMSA Driver Championship winner in LMPC, Lux started – and finished – his first Rolex 24 at age 16. The 2022 running will mark his 12th attempt at the endurance classic, opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
The effort will be backed at Daytona by Kimoa, the clothing and accessories brand founded by two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso; jewelry manufacturer Rembrandt Charms; Seattle-based Jones Soda Co.; clean air technology company Atmofizer; electric mobility retailer Simply EV; small-batch ultra-premium NEFT Vodka from Austria; Capstone Green Energy microturbine energy solutions; shipping container leaders Flex-Box; new formula Motul 300V racing motor oil; Electrolit premium hydration drinks; and Gainbridge.
The No. 81 DragonSpeed machine will hit the track for the annual Roar Before the 24 test days from Jan. 21-23 in preparation for the 60th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona Jan. 29-30.