Malukas leads IndyCar driver evaluation, Hulkenberg one second off

The test was open to rookies and to teams who have not yet confirmed their driver line-ups and are still assessing drivers for potential rides in 2022.

Malukas lapped the 2.38-mile course in Birmingham, AL, in 66.398s to go fastest by three-tenths of a second. The 20-year-old, who finished runner-up in this year’s Indy Lights championship, is expected to be confirmed in #18 Coyne entry, alongside series veteran and two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, one of two possible candidates to drive the #20 Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet on road and street courses – the other being incumbent Conor Daly – was second fastest, a little under a tenth faster than two more 2021 Indy Lights drivers from the team he just vacated.

Devlin DeFrancesco out-paced the new Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood by 0.2s, in their second test in Andretti Autosport-Honda’s ‘big cars’. DeFrancesco is expected to be announced as James Hinchcliffe’s replacement in the #29 AA car, but Kirkwood’s immediate future is more unclear for now, since the other AA-Hondas are set to be occupied by Colton Herta, Romain Grosjean and Alexander Rossi.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Nico Hulkenberg got his first taste of IndyCar – his first drive in an open-wheel racecar for over a year – by driving an Arrow McLaren SP. In the German’s case, it was about him evaluating IndyCar as an option for 2022, rather than the team assessing him. As yet the team doesn’t know if it will run a third entry in 2022.

The German, who twice subbed for full-time Racing Point (now Aston Martin) drivers in F1 last year, turned 108 laps today, with his best coming on Lap 59.

He finished the day just over 1s off fastest time and 0.46s off next slowest.

PositionDriverTeamFastest TimeFastest LapTotal Laps
1David MalukasDale Coyne Racing-Honda1:06.398112136
2Ryan Hunter-ReayEd Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet1:06.69892100
3Kevin DeFrancescoAndretti Autosport-Honda1:06.7816779
4Kyle KirkwoodAndretti Autosport-Honda1:06.9956578
5Nico HulkenbergArrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet1:07.45559 108

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