IndyCar rookie Malukas will offer fresh takes aplenty

Gavin Baker Photography

IndyCar rookie Malukas will offer fresh takes aplenty


IndyCar rookie Malukas will offer fresh takes aplenty


If you haven’t had the chance to watch or listen to David Malukas speak, just know that you can count on the NTT IndyCar Series rookie to bring plenty of levity and character to the paddock in the years to come.

The Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports rookie might be a mystery to all but the most committed junior open-wheel racing fans, but after placing second in last year’s Indy Lights championship, Malukas proved he was a front-running talent whose on-track performances should be taken seriously. Outside the car, though, the 20-year-old isn’t going to bore you with corporate speak and robotic responses. Buckle in for plenty of self-deprecating humor and honesty when the kid from Illinois is in front of a microphone.

Malukas wasn’t sure what his feedback would provide in Sebring testing but whatever it was, once translated, obviously worked well. Michael Levitt/Lumen

“In the morning we started making changes and I just wasn’t comfortable,” he said after a recent test at Sebring International Raceway where his No. 18 Honda. “So I was like, ‘You know what, let’s stop the changes! Let me just go out there, let me get a lot of track time, because I just need to do laps right now so I can stop driving like an imbecile!’ So they listened, and I just hunted around out there. After lunch, we put everything together and every change we made just kept going in the right direction. Towards the end when we put the new set of tires on, the time was there. I couldn’t believe it. I asked them, ‘Are we cheating?’ And they’re like, ‘No, everything’s fine.’ I was like, ‘Goddamn, we’re quick!’”

Malukas and his race engineer Ross Bunnell have found a good rhythm so far in the couple of tests they’ve done, which bodes well for their future together.

“Oh, yeah, the personal the chemistry is there. I mean, right off the bat, we’re getting along,” Malukas said. “It’s amazing. You know, we’re always cracking jokes when I come into the lame… sorry, not ‘the lame,’ I mean ‘the lane,’ like ‘pit lane’…jeez. But he’s amazing. He works so well with my coach/therapist.

“Any information I give him, which sometimes is complete hot garbage — I kind of just mumble-jumble things out of my mouth — Ross just understands it and puts the setup on the car. I’m like, ‘Wow, that was actually really good. I don’t know how you did that because my info was not good!’ He’s definitely incredible and I am so happy that he is with me.”

Bunnell might become known as “The Malukas Whisperer” if he can continue translating his driver’s odd sounds and unintelligible words into positive chassis setup changes.

“He’s definitely a whisperer, for sure, because some of the stuff I tell him, I don’t even know what I’m saying,” Malukas said. “But he figures it out, for sure.”