The new Indy Lights season will finally begin in three days! This year, the NTT IndyCar Series has taken over the license for the Indy Lights Series from Andersen Promotions. This means that there will be a new points system, new format for the race weekends and more. In addition, you will get an overview of all teams and their drivers in this preview. At the end you will find again a championship prediction from me.
Three new teams - TJ Speed Motorsport, Force Indy and Abel Motorsports - have entered the championship this season. However, we also lost two teams with Juncos Racing and Carlin.
Christian Rasmussen, Matthew Brabham, Hunter McElrea, Sting Ray Robb
Last year, Andretti Autosport won the drivers' title with Kyle Kirkwood. This year, they are looking for another title with four drivers at the same time. Three of them are newcomers to the Andretti team. Only Matthew Brabham has worked with the team before, though that was in 2014 & 2015 when he competed in his first and only Indy Lights races to date. He won a race then and finished fourth in the 2014 championship. After a first attempt in the IndyCar Series, the grandson of three-time F1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham joined the Stadium Super Trucks Championship which he has won three times. So now he is making another attempt at the Road To Indy. One of his teammates this year is the reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion and 2020 USF2000 champion, Denmark's Christian Rasmussen, making his Indy Lights debut with 16 Road To Indy wins this year. Sting Ray Robb, the 2020 Indy Pro 2000 champion is entering his second Indy Lights year. He finished last season in eighth place with Junco's Hollinger Racing. Rounding out the team is New Zealander Hunter McElrea. After eight wins in three years on the Road To Indy, the time has also come for him to move up to the Indy Lights series. The 2018 Australian Formula Ford champion finished third in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship last season.
HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing
Linus Lundqvist, Christian Bogle, Danial Frost, Manuel Sulaimán
After a very strong debut season last year, HMD Motorsports will look to win the drivers' title this year in addition to the team championship. Linus Lundqvist enters his second year in the Indy Lights Series with HMD after finishing third last season. WITH three wins and eleven podiums last year, he is now one of the biggest title contenders. In 2018 he won British Formula 3 and in 2020 he dominated Formula Regional Americas at will. Christian Bogle is a new addition to the team, entering his second Indy Lights season. He is so far still waiting for his first Road To Indy podium. Danial Frost is also entering his second Indy Lights year. He finished last season in fifth place with four podiums. In 2020, he finished third in the Indy Pro 2000 championship. Mexican Manuel Sulaimán is the most inexperienced Indy Lights driver on the team. The F4 NACAM champion from the 2018-19 season has already won three Road To Indy races in the Indy Pro 2000 so far.
Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports
Danish-American dual citizen Benjamin Pedersen is entering his second Indy Lights season and is one of my favorites to win the title this year. In 2019, he finished runner-up in Formula Regional Americas with seven wins. He has also competed in British Formula 3 for two years, where he managed to take two race wins. And he finished his Indy Lights debut year in fourth place with six podiums.
TJ Speed Motorsports
James Roe, Kyffin Simpson
The team of single-seater racing engineer Tim Neff will contest their Indy Lights debut season with two cars. Reigning Formula Regional Americas champion Kyffin Simpson enters his second year on the Road To Indy. He scored three podium finishes last season and finished eighth in the Indy Pro 2000 championship with Juncos Racing. James Roe of Ireland enters his first Indy Lights year this year as well. He won the final race of last year's Indy Pro 2000 season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and finished seventh in the championship with Turn 3 Motorsports.
Ernie Francis Jr.
Ernie Francis Jr. is a multiple Trans-Am Series champion. Last year, he got his first chance to compete in single-seater racing. With Future Star Racing, he competed in the Formula Regional Americas championship, winning three races, finishing on the podium four times and ultimately finishing the season in third place. Together with the Force Indy Race Team, he will make his debut on the Road To Indy in Indy Lights this year.
Jacob Abel, Antonio Serravalle
Abel Motorsport will also start its first Indy LIghts season in 2021. Jacob Abel has been racing since 2017 and has won four Formula Regional Americas races. Last year, he finished on the podium twice in Indy Pro 2000 and finished sixth in the championship. For the first weekend of the season, Antonio Serravalle will be his teammate. The Canadian competed with Pserra Racing last Indy Lights season.
Although more race tracks will be visited this year than last, six fewer races will be contested overall. Two of the 14 races this year will be contested on the oval. The first oval race will take place on July 23 at Iowa Speedway. The second will be held at World Wide Technology Raceway on August 20. A double-header will also be contested on two race weekends. On May 13 and 14 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and at the season finale at Laguna Seca on September 10-11.
Round 1: Streets of St. Petersburg (27 February)
Round 2: Barber Motorsports Park (1 May)
Round 3/4: Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Road Course (13-14 May)
Round 5/6: The Raceway at Belle Isle Park (4-5 June)
Round 7: Road America (12 June)
Round 8: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (3 July)
Round 9: Iowa Speedway (23 July)
Round 10: Nashville Street Circuit (7 August)
Round 11: World Wide Technology Raceway (20 August)
Round 12: Portland International Raceway (4 September)
Round 13/14: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (10-11 September)
Instead of two races per weekend, there is now usually one race per event. Therefore, there is also only one qualifying session per weekend. The points system has also been adjusted this year. Now they use the same system as IndyCar and therefore more points per win are awarded compared to last year. Unlike in Indy Pro & USF2000, the points for oval races are the same as on road courses.
The following points are awarded: P1 = 50, P2 = 40, P3 = 35, P4 = 32, P5 = 30, P6 = 28, P7 = 26, P8 = 24, P9 = 22, P10 = 20, P11 = 19, P12 = 18, P13 = 17, P14 = 16, P15 = 15, P16 = 14, P17 = 13, P18 = 12, P19 = 11, P20 = 10.
In addition, there are extra points to be won in each race. One point is awarded to every driver who leads at least one lap, the driver leading the most laps gets two points. And the driver who qualifies on pole position is awarded one additional point.
As I already did with some racing series last year, I dare to make a little prediction for this year's Indy Lights driver and team championships.
Drivers Championship Prediction
P1: Linus Lundqvist
P2: Christian Rasmussen
P3: Benjamin Pedersen
P4: Danial Frost
P5: Matthew Brabham
My main favorite for the title is Linus Lundqvist, who finished third in the championship last year. I think he can dominate the field especially at the beginning of the season. I see Benjamin Pedersen and rookie Christian Rasmussen as his closest competitors. But also drivers like Hunter McElrea, Danial Frost, Matthew Brabham, Manuel Sulaimán, Sting Ray Robb or Ernie Francis Jr. could be among the front runners. I'm very excited about the debut of TJ Speed Motorsports with Kyffin Simpson and James Roe. I think they can pull off a surprise like they did in last year's FR Americas, where they won both the drivers' and team championships on their first attempt. Make sure to watch out for them as well.
Teams Championship Prediction
P1: HMD Motorsports
P2: Andretti Autosport
P3: TJ Speed Motorsports
Thanks to very balanced driver line ups, we can look forward to a very close race for the title in the team championship between Andretti Autosport and HMD Motorsports. I think in the end HMD will be just ahead. Third place will probably go to TJ Speed Motorsports.
The "new era" of Indy Lights is definitely going to be exciting! The first race of the year will take place on Sunday. Enjoy it!
written by Claudio Graf / 24th February, 2022