IndyCar: The tight battle that no one wants to win

Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images) /

While the rookie class in the 2022 IndyCar season is deep, they have all struggled, and nobody has been able to capitalize on anybody else’s misfortune. So who wants it?

Last year’s IndyCar rookie class featured a three-time Australian Supercars champion in Scott McLaughlin, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion in Jimmie Johnson (part-time), and a former Formula 1 driver in Romain Grosjean (part-time).

This year’s rookie class of six is much deeper, and all five full-time drivers compete for different teams, including several organizations capable of running at the front any given weekend.

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Devlin DeFrancesco competes for Andretti Autosport, Callum Ilott competes for Juncos Hollinger Racing, Kyle Kirkwood competes for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Christian Lundgaard competes for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, David Malukas competes for Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports, and Tatiana Calderon competes part-time for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

But the rookie class has struggled in an IndyCar field as deep as it’s ever been.

These six drivers have made a combined 23 starts so far this season, with the five full-time drivers having made four each and Calderon having made three in the road and street course races.

But their combined average finish is only 19.74. To put that in perspective, if the rookies had finished behind all non-rookies in each of the season’s first four races, their average finish would only be about four positions worse (23.83).

The top finish belongs to Kirkwood: a 10th place effort on the streets of Long Beach. He hasn’t finished higher than 18th otherwise and has scored 46 points, second most among the rookies.

Lundgaard leads the rookie standings, sitting in 15th place overall with 57 points. His best finish is 11th on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and he hasn’t finisher lower than 19th, the best worst finish for a rookie this year. Even still, he would have more points with two 15th place finishes and two 16th place finishes.

Malukas has a top finish of 11th place as well, having pulled it off at Texas Motor Speedway. He had a chance for a decent result at Long Beach as well before he was caught up in Johnson’s wreck.

Ilott has a top finish of 16th place at Texas Motor Speedway. He had a chance for a finish well inside the top 10 at Barber Motorsports Park after a sensational qualifying effort and brilliant start, but an unforced error led to a 25th place result.

DeFrancesco has had a disastrous start. Aside from his 17th place finish at Barber Motorsports Park, he hasn’t finished higher than 22nd, and he has triggered multiple incidents.

And Calderon, whose chances of being crowned Rookie of the Year were practically nonexistent to begin with as a part-time driver, has a top finish of 16th place at Long Beach ahead of only two drivers who finished the race. Her other two finishes are finishes of 24th and 26th, last among the finishing drivers in both races.

Take a look at the full rookie standings among the full-time drivers.

  • 15th – Christian Lundgaard – 57 (-)
  • 20th – Kyle Kirkwood – 46 (-11)
  • 21st – David Malukas – 44 (-13)
  • 23rd – Callum Ilott – 37 (-20)
  • 24th – Devlin DeFrancesco – 33 (-24)

A single great result for any of these five drivers could completely change the landscape of this battle.

So who really wants it?

Right now, that’s a very good question.

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The 2022 season’s fifth race, the GMR Grand Prix, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 14, and it is set to be broadcast live on NBC from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. Will any of these rookies set a new season-best finish among the class? Get a free trial of FuboTV now if you haven’t done so already and don’t miss any of the excitement!