A change of drivers could be coming next season to the No.29 Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Honda.
RACER has learned the team began a search earlier this month to find one or more front-running candidates to take over the car once Devlin DeFrancesco completes his rookie campaign.
Signed to a multi-year deal that was announced in November, the winner of the LMP2 class at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January has endured a tough introduction to IndyCar but continues to make gains after earning his best finish of the season on Sunday in Iowa.
Although there’s no guarantee the Italian-Canadian driver will be replaced, DeFrancesco is aware of the conversations taking place with other drivers behind the scenes. Reached for comment, a representative from Andretti Autosport told RACER DeFrancesco will complete the rest of the season in the car, but stopped short of confirming anything beyond 2022.
The team also reconfirmed DeFrancesco is under contract in 2023, but as the recent dramas with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou have demonstrated, being under contract does not necessarily assure one’s place in a seat on the grid the following year.
Coming off his top qualifying performance of the season at his home race in Toronto where the No.29 started 12th, the 22-year-old added to his personal bests with a clean run to 17th at Iowa Round 1, matching his highest finish of the season, and improved to 15th place in Sunday’s 300-lap contest.
If DeFrancesco’s tenure at Andretti Autosport were to end after the season finale in September, there are a handful of teams with known or potential openings where the 2020 Indy Pro 2000 runner-up could continue his IndyCar career.
As a whole, Andretti Autosport has fallen short of expectations this season with Colton Herta owning the team’s only win after 12 rounds. Herta enters this weekend’s race on the Indianapolis road course holding a distant eighth in the Drivers’ championship, 125 back from points leader Marcus Ericsson.
Andretti’s Alexander Rossi sits 10th in the standings with one pole and two podiums to his credit; new Andretti driver Romain Grosjean holds 14th in the championship and continues to pursue his first win.