David Malukas had a shaky start to his rookie NTT IndyCar Series campaign. The 20-year-old from Illinois made more than his fair share of mistakes in the opening rounds, but coming off a starring performance at Indianapolis where he was fast and consistent in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda, the big gain in mileage and experience in the Indy 500 has carried over in positive ways at the Detroit Grand Prix.
As the fastest rookie in the field for Sunday’s 70-lap race, Malukas will start a career-best sixth while teammate Takuma Sato will roll off in second. Malukas also posted the fastest laps to transfer during the knockout qualifying rounds, which only added to his impressive output.
“What an amazing car,” he said. “In [the first two practice sessions], we were a little bit up and down, scratching our heads, but at the end of [FP2] we felt like we knew what we had going into qualifying. We were top of the board for the first run, and both me and Takuma — we’re doing really good.”
Transferring into the Firestone Fast Six for the first time was yet another big achievement for Malukas, but as he found, there wasn’t much life left in his used red-banded Firestone alternate tires to vie for pole.
“I tried my best — first time on re-run reds. I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “And you know, of course, we’re expecting the first lap to be the go lap, and going into Turn 5 I had a big moment…so then I lost that lap, and [on] the second one I tried to do a bit of a recovery but [the] tires were already done by then.”