INDIANAPOLIS — A couple of days ago, Carlin announced a two car outfit for Indy Lights in 2021. Former FIA F3 driver Alex Peroni will drive one car with the other working in conjunction with former Indy car driver and Indy Lights champion Jay Howard. The Carlin team will also serve as the top rung of Jay Howard’s Driver Development (JHDD) and will be based out of Carlin’s US base in Delray Beach, Florida and run alongside the team’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES operation.
On Tuesday, Andretti Autosport announced that Robert Megennis will return to his No. 27 Dallara in 2021, completing the team’s four-car lineup.
“I’m massively excited to be back with Andretti Autosport,” said Robert Megennis via a team statement. “We had a great 2019 season together, and I’m excited to take what we learned into 2021. I love this team and I know it’s the right environment for me. Thank you to my partners SailPoint, Sirius Computer Solutions, Juniper Networks, CyberArk, and Cybereason for making this happen. A big thank you to Andretti Autosport for giving me this opportunity. Time to go win some races!”
The New York-native is a veteran of Indy Lights and the Road to Indy getting behind the wheel of a USF2000 car for the first time in 2016. In the 2019 Indy Lights season, the 20-year-old scored his first win on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and sat on the pole position for the Freedom 100. Within his rookie Indy Lights campaign, Megennis captured two pole positions, six podiums and finished fifth in the points championship.
“We are excited to have Robert return to our Andretti Autosport Indy Lights lineup for 2021,”said J-F Thormann, president, Andretti Autosport. “In his rookie season in 2019, Robert was a contender all season long and focused on success. He brings great value to the team as a veteran of the series alongside rookie teammates and we are ready to get the season started in St. Petersburg.”
Megennis completes Andretti’s 2021 Indy Lights roster, joining rookie teammates Devlin DeFrancesco [No. 17 Dallara], Kyle Kirkwood [No. 28 Dallara] and Danial Frost [No. 68 Dallara] on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, as the 2021 Indy Lights season kicks off on March 5-7, 2021.
Kirkwood, has 21 wins, 24 podiums and 11 poles in two years in the RTI program. He won the championship in both USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 on his way to an Indy Lights ride for this past year.
So where does the car count sit now? That’s six between Andretti and Carlin.
HMD Motorsports has also partnered with Global Racing Group to go from two cars to four for 2021. Last week they announced that Benjamin Pedersen will drive one entry. No other drivers were announced yet, but they’ll operate out of the Brownsburg shop of HMD.
That’s 10 full time cars already.
Yes, Belardi won’t be on the grid in 2021, but all signs are teams are interested in their fleet.
Then, you have what Juncos or Exclusive Autosport do as well plus what Sting Ray Robb and Rasmus Lindh do with their scholarships to the series for 2021 either. I’m also hearing some more new teams could be coming to the mix to push this full time field north of 10 and well into the double digit category.
That’s at least 12 with Robb and Lindh having money to find teams if they’re outside of HMD/GRG.
Penske, wants to make this a viable series for other NTT IndyCar Series owners to start programs in. He’s on his way to eventually making this happen for potentially 2022.
They’ve got 20 races among 10 race weekend’s on tap for next season beginning with the season opener on the streets of St. Pete on March 6 and 7. They’ll do a doubleheader on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next on May 14/15.
For the first time since 2012, the series will return to The Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Mich., for a double-header round, and will cap off the year with a West Coast swing at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Ore., and the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., the following weekend.
Indy Lights will return to NBC Sports Gold with all races airing live and on demand in the U.S. Internationally, all practice, qualifying and race events will be live streamed on the Road to Indy TV App and at RoadToIndy.TV and indylights.com, as well as dedicated broadcast channels on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Xbox One. Additional coverage of all on-track sessions can also be found on the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network.
Next season will see an increased champion’s scholarship award to $1,289,425 for entry into at least three NTT INDYCAR SERIES events for 2022 including the Indianapolis 500, and the addition of an Indy car test at the conclusion of the season for each of the top-three finishers in the championship.
The Cooper tire-shod Dallara IL-15 with a 450-horsepower AER powerplant will see the addition of a Dallara-designed and installed Titanium Halo in 2021 for increased safety. The package has produced incredible competition with a strong parity across the board showcasing racecraft. With similarities to an Indy car, the equipment package provides the appropriate training for drivers to take the next step including a six-speed, paddle-shift transmission, a 50-horsepower “push-to-pass” feature, “drive-by-wire” throttle control and advanced engine management electronics.
INDYCAR sees how beneficial the series is too. Since the start of the system in 2010, 37 Indy Lights drivers have made at least one INDYCAR start. An astounding 23 of the 33 drivers in this past year’s Indy 500 was an Indy Light graduate including eight of those 23 being past Lights champions.
“From top to bottom, the entire team recognizes the role and commitment Indy Lights has played in bringing new talent to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment said last month. “We are firmly committed to ensuring its continued success.”