While the full-time driver lineup for the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is almost set, the popular “Silly Season” of rumored and confirmed personnel changes is unfolding quickly in another vital area for teams – engineering staffs.
Many top teams in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will see significant engineering staff shakeups in 2022, with some welcoming new faces and others shuffling personnel.
A big domino to fall in the engineering Silly Season was the departure of Gavin Ward (pictured above) from Team Penske to Arrow McLaren SP. Ward served as race engineer for Josef Newgarden and helped to guide Newgarden to the 2019 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship.
Former Red Bull Formula One engineer Ward, a native of Canada, will serve in a senior technical role for AMSP, which fields Chevrolet-powered cars for Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist. Craig Hampson will serve as Rosenqvist’s new engineer, with Will Anderson staying in the same role with O’Ward.
No replacement for Ward has been named at Team Penske, but the powerhouse team will see other changes due to downsizing from four to three cars in 2022. Simon Pagenaud’s former engineer, Ben Bretzman, has moved to Scott McLaughlin’s No. 3 Chevrolet for 2022, with McLaughlin’s former engineer, Jonathan Diuguid, moving to Penske’s Porsche LMDh sports car program.
Pagenaud will be engineered by Garrett Mothersead in the driver’s first season with Meyer Shank Racing. Mothersead, who engineered Takuma Sato to a victory in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for Andretti Autosport, will essentially trade roles with Andy Listes, who worked with Jack Harvey the past two seasons through Andretti’s technical alliance with MSR. Listes returns to Andretti Autosport to work with rookie Devlin DeFrancesco.
Another change for Andretti Autosport is the arrival of veteran French engineer Olivier Boisson with new team driver Romain Grosjean. Both joined Andretti after working together last season in Grosjean’s impressive rookie season with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing also is boosting its engineering staff, as the team is growing to three-full time cars – for veterans Graham Rahal and Jack Harvey and rookie Christian Lundgaard.
Ben Siegel joined RLL from Ed Carpenter Racing to serve as engineer for Lundgaard, with RLL veteran engineer Mike Armbrester in the same role for Harvey. Allan McDonald will remain as Rahal’s engineer.
INDYCAR Lineup Grows for Rolex 24
The Rolex 24 At Daytona has evolved in recent years into one of motorsports’ true all-star events, with drivers from various global series taking advantage of the late January date – before the start of nearly every racing season – to get their competitive year underway.
This year’s 24-hour sports car classic – Jan. 29-30 at Daytona International Speedway – will feature at least 14 total NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights drivers.
In the premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class, Indianapolis 500 winners Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi will drive, as will reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Alex Palou, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and fellow NTT INDYCAR SERIES veteran Jimmie Johnson and Marcus Ericsson.
Castroneves and Pagenaud will be teammates on the No. 60 Acura fielded by Meyer Shank Racing, the team for which both drive in INDYCAR. Dixon and Palou will be part of the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac lineup, with the team's sister Cadillac including Ericsson on the driver roster. Johnson will be behind the wheel of the No. 48 Cadillac fielded by Action Express Racing, while Rossi is back to defend his Rolex 24 title with Wayne Taylor Racing in the No. 10 Acura.
In the LMP2 prototype class, expected 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES title rivals Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward will join forces at Daytona in the No. 81 ORECA fielded by former Indy 500 entrant DragonSpeed. Indy Lights veteran and Andretti Autosport 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Devlin DeFrancesco will join Herta and O’Ward in the team’s lineup.
2021 INDYCAR race winner Rinus VeeKay will drive the No. 29 ORECA of Racing Team Nederland in the LMP2 class.
Reigning Indy Lights champion and 2022 AJ Foyt Racing rookie Kyle Kirkwood will race in the new GTD Pro class at Daytona, driving the No. 14 Lexus of INDYCAR SERIES and Indy 500 entrant Vasser-Sullivan Racing.
The GTD class will feature two current Indy Lights drivers. Linus Lundqvist will race for Alegra Motorsports in its Mercedes-AMG, while Kyffin Simpson will share Gradient Racing’s No. 66 Acura.
Another name familiar to INDYCAR fans also will return to Daytona later this month. INDYCAR and Indy 500 veteran Townsend Bell, who serves as an analyst of NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, will be one of the drivers of Vasser-Sullivan’s No. 12 Lexus in the GTD class. Bell won the GTD class in 2014 at the Rolex 24 and was the 2015 IMSA GTD champion. He also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016 in the GTE-Am class.
Ferrucci, Daly To Run Chili Bowl
One of the most prestigious midget racing events of the season, the 36th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals on Jan. 10-15 at Tulsa, Oklahoma, will include two NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers trying to earn the Golden Driller Award as the indoor event’s winner.
Santino Ferrucci and Conor Daly both are racing on dirt in Tulsa. Ferrucci will start his Chili Bowl competition this year in the prelim race Tuesday, Jan. 11, while Daly is scheduled to race in the prelim Friday, Jan. 14.