David Malukas will replace Ed Jones in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda. The 2021 Indy Lights championship runner-up from Chicago will join his home state team as part of a multi-year deal.
As RACER reported last week, the arrival of Malukas and his family-run HMD Motorsports effort also signals the end of Vasser Sullivan’s five-year run as a co-entrant with Coyne’s team. Malukas will represent the new Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports program as contender for the NTT IndyCar Series’ Rookie of the Year honors. The DCRwHMD relationship is also expected to extend into the Indy Lights series.
“I am very happy to join Dale Coyne Racing for my first season in the NTT IndyCar Series,” Malukas said. “It has been my dream since a little kid to get to this point, and I am thrilled to get it started with this team. After my first test with DCR, I felt right at home. They are like family already and I am excited to see what we can accomplish. Bring on 2022!”
The 20-year-old Malukas will face Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood at A.J. Foyt Racing, Christian Lundgaard at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott, and Andretti Autosport’s Indy Lights graduate Devlin DeFrancesco as the four known rookies to date once the 2022 season gets under way.
He’ll also be tasked with reinvigorating the No. 18 Honda entry, which scored its last win to open the 2018 season with Sebastien Bourdais at the controls. Entering the Road To Indy while attending high school, the teenage Malukas took some time to find his footing before launching forward as an Indy Lights title contender last season.
His HMD Motorsports team took the fight and led Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport team at times, and while Malukas came up short in the championship, his massive rise in competitiveness was demonstrated after seven wins and 16 podiums from 20 races were produced at the age of 19. Assuming his progression continues in the same upward direction, DCRwHMD could have a young contender on its hands.
“I’ve been following David in Indy Lights and I was very pleased by what I saw,” Coyne said. “He had a remarkable season and then he impressed everyone when we tested him back in October. It was his first time in an Indy car and he was the fastest one at the test, even ahead of a veteran driver. And, on top of it all, he comes from right down the road in Chicago, so it’s a perfect fit for us to run David next season.
“We’re also excited about our new partnership with HMD Motorsports. We can’t wait to start building on this relationship and we’re looking forward to a successful season together.”