Editor’s Note: This is the first day of a four-day series of 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES team previews. Today’s rollout features Arrow McLaren SP at 10 a.m. (ET), AJ Foyt Racing at noon and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at 2 p.m. Visit INDYCAR.com often today through Saturday to get the lowdown on every team and driver!
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING
Starting Lineup: Graham Rahal (No. 15 United Rentals Honda), Christian Lundgaard (No. 30 Shield Cleansers Honda), Jack Harvey (No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda).
2021 in Review: Rahal was paired with Takuma Sato for the fourth consecutive year, and they finished seventh and 11th in the standings, respectively. Rahal’s season was highlighted by a pair of top-five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway, although the rest of his oval season saw a heartbreaking crash on Lap 119 in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge – he was in position to contend for the win -- and early contact in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway. Overall, Rahal posted seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. Sato’s average starting position was 17.7, but he raced well, with a finishing average of 12.2. Like Rahal, Sato led at Texas. The team fielded an additional entry at nine races, with Santino Ferrucci delivering five top-11 finishes in as many starts, including a sixth-place finish in the “500,” and Oliver Askew (three races) and Lundgaard (one) piloting the No. 45 car. Lundgaard made his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in stunning fashion, qualifying fourth for the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He finished 12th. Harvey drove for Meyer Shank Racing, getting a strong start to the season – his average starting position in the first five races was 5.4 – before finishing 13th in the standings. He had fourth-place finishes in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the Grand Prix of Portland.
New for ’22: The Indiana-based organization begins the season in its Brownsburg’s shop before moving to a new 115,000-square-foot facility – with room to grow -- in Zionsville in May. RLL’s expansion is evident on the track, too, with three full-time cars for the first time since 2006. Harvey figures his new team will give him his best chance at his first career series victory – he has made 49 starts – and there is considerable optimism for Lundgaard’s program after the 20-year-old Dane qualified fourth in his maiden series start last year.
Keep an Eye on This: At age 33, Rahal still could be an INDYCAR SERIES driver for years to come as his father, Bobby, was competing in the series at 45. But it’s easy to forget how much experience the second-generation star already has. If Rahal competes in all 17 events this season, as expected, he will enter 2023 only six starts shy of his father’s career total (264).
Little-Known Fact: Rahal was recently asked to identify his biggest INDYCAR rival, and his answer was somewhat surprising. “A guy I’ve always raced against is Simon Pagenaud,” he said. “We always race hard, but it’s always fair.”
Defy Everything: It seems everyone has a moment of truth in his career, and Harvey’s came at the end of 2015 season. He had finished second in Indy Lights, but he didn’t have the funding to race the next year. “No scholarship money; I had nothing,” he said. “It’s a bad place to be.” His option was to keep fighting for opportunities in the U.S. or remain in England to get a degree in preparation for working in his family’s steel fabrication business. Harvey chose the former, returning to the U.S. to do some driver coaching, deciding that if he couldn’t land a ride for 2017, he would give up the sport. “To be honest, fear of failure was my biggest driving point,” he said. “I couldn’t let that be the case.” He didn’t fail. For 2017, he landed a ride with Andretti Autosport for the Indianapolis 500, which led to an association with Michael Shank Racing when Michael Andretti signed Fernando Alonso for Indy. Harvey and Shank parlayed that opportunity into six races for 2018, 10 races in 2019 and a full-season effort beginning in 2020. The rest is history. “I think sometimes you don’t realize how much you love something until someone takes it away,” Harvey said.
AJ FOYT RACING
Starting Lineup: Dalton Kellett (No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet), Kyle Kirkwood (No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet), Tatiana Calderon (No. 11 ROKiT Chevrolet for the road course and street course races).
2021 in Review: Four-time INDYCAR champion Sebastien Bourdais led the team with four top-10 finishes and a pair of top-five finishes, at Barber Motorsports Park and World Wide Technology Raceway. Kellett delivered some of his best performances on oval tracks, including a 12th-place finish at World Wide Technology Raceway. JR Hildebrand finished 15th in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
New for ’22: The organization will have a different look with Kirkwood and Calderon new to the lineup. Kellett, who has made 24 career INDYCAR starts, returns for his second full season. Kirkwood, a 23-year-old Floridian, is the only driver to have won all three levels of the Road to Indy development program, and he did it in consecutive seasons. He won a record 31 of 50 races in the three seasons, claiming the USF2000, Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights championships in succession. Calderon’s resume is diverse. In 2020 and ’21, the 28-year-old Colombian competed in the same Japanese series (Super Formula) where reigning INDYCAR champion Alex Palou raced before arriving in the U.S.
Keep an Eye on This: Kirkwood has made a habit out of getting stronger as the season goes. In USF2000, he won the final 11 races of the 2018 season. In Indy Pro 2000, he won nine of the final 11 races of 2019. Last year, he won nine of the last 14 races in Indy Lights.
Little-Known Fact: Kellett has diverse interests. His favorite social media follows are NASA accounts, and he owns a telescope for long-exposure photographs. He dabbles in computer programming and enjoys woodworking and fabrication. He cooks gourmet meals for large groups. He speaks French and can play guitar and harmonica at the same time, showcasing Neil Young songs. “I’m a renaissance man,” he said with a laugh.
Defy Everything: Kirkwood exudes a level head, but that wasn’t always the case in his career. In 2014 and ’15, he teamed with Formula One standout Rubens Barrichello in karting. In one race, Kirkwood took his hand off the steering wheel and shook it at a competitor in frustration. Barrichello didn’t approve. “He told me, no matter how bad something might be, never (do that). Never show your competition you’re upset. You always have to be calm, level-headed and kill everyone with silence.”
ARROW McLAREN SP
Starting Lineup: Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet), Felix Rosenqvist (No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet), Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 6 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet for the GMR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge).
2021 in Review: O’Ward continued his rise to NTT INDYCAR SERIES prominence by earning his first career victory in the series, at Texas Motor Speedway. He followed that with a second victory, at Detroit’s Belle Isle circuit, and twice sat atop the point standings, including after the 13th of 16 races. O’Ward led 118 laps for the season – that ranked fifth – and finished third in points, up from fourth in 2020. Rosenqvist led 14 laps in the first race in Detroit and was in line for a strong finish there when his car hit the tire barrier. The incident caused him to miss the next two races. Rosenqvist finished eighth and sixth in races in the second half of the season. Montoya joined the team for the two Indy races in May. In the “500,” O’Ward finished fourth, Montoya ninth and Rosenqvist 27th.
New for ’22: In November, McLaren Racing completed an acquisition of 75 percent of the team. The five-person board is chaired by McLaren CEO Zak Brown, with longtime INDYCAR team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson among the members. The team signed engineer Gavin Ward, who most recently was part of Josef Newgarden’s championship-winning operation at Team Penske. Prior to Team Penske, Ward worked with Red Bull Racing’s Formula One team for nine years, which included four world championships with Sebastian Vettel. Ward’s arrival allows veteran engineer Craig Hampson to move to Rosenqvist’s car.
Keep an Eye on This: Rosenqvist, who won an INDYCAR race at Road America in 2020, said there was one major component of his program that he had to improve during the offseason: His confidence, which he said left him at times last year. “Driving without confidence sucks,” he said. “The only way to get it back is to have good results. If I can find confidence and sharpen everything else, we’ll be in a different position quickly.”
Little-Known Fact: O’Ward has an athletic skill seldom showcased. “I’m really good at throwing a football,” he said.
Defy Everything: O’Ward’s family moved from Monterrey, Mexico, to San Antonio when he was a boy. He initially wasn’t pleased as he wanted to remain with friends, but he now says it was a difference-maker in his life and career. “It’s the best thing that my parents could have done for us,” he said. “It opened our eyes to a different world, a very different society and very different ways of living and doing things. It helped me grow as a person, professionally and individually. It helped guide my way to where I am now in a very focused manner."