Christian Rasmussen

Today’s question: The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is loaded with drivers who previously excelled in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, including Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward, Rinus VeeKay and now Kyle Kirkwood and David Malukas. With Indy Lights set to have one of its deepest fields in recent history in 2022, who is the driver you are most keeping your eye on for the future, and why?

Curt Cavin: I think it has to be Ernie Francis Jr. While he doesn’t figure to have a Kyle Kirkwood-type season – we might not see one of those for years to come – his progression with Force Indy should be fascinating to watch as the “Race for Equality & Change” takes its next step. Francis was terrific in Trans Am, and he has had three Indy Lights tests to this point. By midseason, I look for him to be challenging for podium finishes and after that, who knows? A race win might be too much to ask for in Year 1 of Indy Lights, but watch for that No. 99 car.

Zach Horrall: I’ve got my eye on Matthew Brabham this year as he returns to Indy Lights, and my early prediction is that we’ll see him on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES grid in 2023. It’s an interesting career pivot for Brabham, who is a seasoned veteran at this point and will likely be the oldest driver in the field at age 28. He is a USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 champion who raced in Indy Lights in 2014, winning on the IMS road course and finishing fourth in the standings. He competed in two NTT INDYCAR SERIES races in 2016 – including the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, in which he finished 22nd. Since then, he’s raced in Formula E, Australian V8 Supercars and Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks, where he’s won three championships. This is all to say that Brabham never got the opportunity he needed to flourish in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, which is why he’s coming back to Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport. He’s going to dig hard to get that scholarship that guarantees him three NTT INDYCAR SERIES races in 2023. And with credentials like his against a field of drivers with much less experience than him, I don’t know how he isn’t the early championship favorite.

Paul Kelly: Christian Rasmussen. The Dane has a chance to pull off the “Kirkwood Slam” this season of winning championships in USF2000, Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights. Kirkwood did it in three consecutive seasons, while Rasmussen won the USF2000 title in his second season in 2020 and the Indy Pro 2000 crown last year. Rasmussen looks to be poised to be the fourth straight Andretti Autosport driver to win the Indy Lights crown and climb to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, following the tire tracks of Kirkwood in 2021, Oliver Askew in 2019 and Pato O’Ward in 2018 (the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic). I think the title duel this season in Lights could come down to two Great Danes – Rasmussen and Benjamin Pedersen of Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports. Either way, the Nordic invasion of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES should continue in 2023, with either talented driver possibly joining Swedes Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist and fellow Dane Christian Lundgaard in the big show.