2022 will be a total transformation for Dale Coyne Racing. The team that has been involved in IndyCar racing since 1984 will look to return to the top step of the podium for the first time since 2018 with two new drivers in it’s lineup. After an underwhelming season for Ed Jones and a learning year for Romain Grosjean, Dale Coyne will turn over his two full time entries to Takuma Sato and rookie David Malukas as Grosjean moves to Andretti and Jones was not re-signed. Sato will drive the #51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing while Malukas will move up for his rookie year in conjunction with HMD Motorsports. This is the first time in Dale Coyne Racing’s history that a former Indy 500 will be behind the wheel for the team.
Also departing the partnership is Vasser Sullivan Racing. Vasser Sullivan will focus their efforts on their sports car effort in IMSA but still own a chassis if a driver brought the proper funding. HMD Motorsports will move from Indy Lights to IndyCar and bring rookie David Malukas with them. Malukas is a graduate of the Mazda Road to Indy collecting three wins in USF 2000 and scoring six wins in Indy Lights in 2021, ultimately finishing 2nd in the championship. The 20 year old Chicago native will run for rookie of the year in 2022.
2 time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato joins the team entering his thirteenth full time season in IndyCar. Sato brings experience on all tracks that will help the team better collect data and help Malukas during his rookie campaign. Sato will aim for his third Indianapolis 500 win and will bring new eyes to the team in the #51. The team has been fast at Indy over the last several years with multiple drivers having speed in the month of May.
It doesn’t appear that we will see five different drivers for the team in 2022 like we did in 2021. Ryan Norman made one start for the team at Mid-Ohio while Cody Ware raced three times, including a double header on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he drove in the Cup race the next day. Pietro Fittipaldi ran the first three ovals races for Grosjean, qualifying an impressive 12th at the Indianapolis 500. The team's best efforts came from Grosjean who finished runner up twice on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It looks like Coyne will stick with a two car effort at the Indianapolis 500 but would not be surprised if we saw Cody Ware enter into a few road course races again this season.
At the age of 45, Takuma Sato could be on his last contract of his historic IndyCar career. This will be Satos 13th season in IndyCar competition for his fifth team. The talent is certainly still there for Sato and the guts to compete for wins is as well. The combination of a fast Honda at Indy and his skill set on the 2.5 mile oval could see Sato up front on race day for the 106th Indy 500.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: With limited testing, it’ll take an event or two for Sato to get comfortable with Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware. Qualifying is key for Sato. His highest starting position in 2021 was an eleventh place start at the second Texas race. Qualifying inside the top 12 each week and finishing inside the top 10 are realistic goals for Sato.
PROJECTION: Sato will be very quick at Indianapolis. He knows how to get to the finish of the 500 and could be a threat to win if the cards fall his way on race day. Coyne has provided some great cars at the Indianapolis 500 over the last several years but the team has somewhat struggled at others. Sato should bring home a few top 5s and a podium or two in 2022.
Malukas makes the move to full time in the IndyCar Series and will make his first career start at St. Pete. After an impressive campaign in Indy Lights in 2021, HMD Motorsports will pair with Dale Coyne Racing to field the two year old Chicago native. HMD Trucking, owned by David’s dad will be the sponsor on the new look #18 entry.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Keeping pace and learning from a veteran teammate will help smoothen the transition from Indy Lights to IndyCar. Two years of Indy Lights under his belt, getting up to speed quickly on race weekends will determine the team's fate. The quicker the two Dale Coyne cars can gather data and chemistry, the better the results for this team will be.
PROJECTION: Malukas will compete for rookie of the year over the 2022 season. Malukas is sneaky good and can be overlooked with Kyle Kirkwood running for the Rookie of the Year and Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean running for ROY at the Indy 500. Expect an under the radar top 12 run in one of the first three races for Malukas.
CHAMPIONSHIP PROJECTION ODDS
TAKUMA SATA +4500
DAVID MALUKAS +6000
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