The Indy Lights Series should have a growth in car counts for 2022. We’ve seen two recent announcements in recent days with Mexican driver Manuel Sulaiman continuing with HMD Motorsports to compete in the 2022 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.
Sulaiman, 21, raced in a partial season with HMD in 2021, with a best finish of sixth and a best qualifying spot of fourth. He will drive the No. 59 entry. After joining the Road to Indy in 2019 in USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires, Sulaiman has quickly worked his way up the ladder over the past three seasons. With three wins and nine podiums in the ladder series program, the Mexican looks to follow in the footsteps of NTT INDYCAR SERIES star Pato O’Ward as he hopes to be a strong contender in 2022
Sulaiman will join teammates Danial Frost, Christian Bogle, Linus Lundqvist and Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports driver Benjamin Pedersen in the powerful HMD lineup this season in Indy Lights.
Frost, 20, was in USF2000 in 2018 for seven races, Indy Pro 2000 in 2019 and 2020 where he finished fifth and third respectively the two years including three combined wins before moving up to Indy Lights with Andretti last year where he finished fifth in the final standings on the heels of four podiums, three of which being runner-ups as well as seven total top fives and 17 top 10’s in 20 starts.
Bogle, 20, will shift from Carlin to HMD Motorsports for the 2022 season. He produced 11 top 10 finishes in his 20 starts a year ago. What’s wild is, this will mark just his fourth year of racing all together with him being very raw in terms of his motorsports experience.
Lundqvist, from Sweden, won three races and scored 11 podium finishes last season. He finished third in the standings behind champion Kyle Kirkwood and runner-up David Malukas, both of whom have climbed to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2022.
Pederson, 22, is back in the 24 in the GRG/HMD entry. He hails from Denmark and finished fourth in the championship standings as an Indy Lights rookie in 2021, trailing teammates David Malukas (second) and Lundqvist (third) and champion Kyle Kirkwood. He recorded six podium finishes in the No. 24 entry.
Then, in a last-minute deal, Canadian Antonio Serravalle will enter this weekend’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires event. Joining Abel Motorsports for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Serravalle will return to Indy Lights for 2022 and look to build off a privateer effort from the 2021 season that saw him compete with his father owned Pserra Racing program.
Competing as a privateer in 2021, Antonio Serravalle and his Pserra Racing outfit showed speed in the select events that they competed in. Running against the bigger programs, Serravalle was able to hold his own scoring a handful of top-ten results.
Jacob Abel will be his teammate and race for his family team at Abel Motorsports. Abel, 20, has made 39 starts in Indy Pro 2000 the last three years but was winless in all. He was a career best sixth in the final standings last year.
Andretti Autosport had four cars last year and will do so again in 2022. This time, they’ll have Sting Ray Robb, Hunter McElrea, Christian Rasmussen and Matthew Brabham.
McElrea, 22, moves up from Indy Pro 2000. He was fifth in the series in 2020 and third last year. Both with Pabst Racing. He had four wins in two seasons. That came after a year in USF2000 where he had four wins during the 2019 campaign with a final finish of second in the standings.
Rasmussen, 21, won the 2020 USF2000 title as well as the 2021 Indy Pro 2000 championship. Can he go three straight? He’s been a Jay Howard Developmental driver and has won 19 times in three years in the Road to Indy category. He was third in points as a rookie in USF2000 in 2019 with three wins. He won nine times in 2020 and seven a year ago.
Robb, 20, is the youngest of the group but maybe the most experience in the Road to Indy program. He first joined it in 2017 in Pro Mazda. He raced four years in that category, reaching victory lane seven times, all with Juncos in 2020 which netted him the series championship. That allowed him scholarship money to graduate up to Indy Lights last year with the team where he finished eighth.
Brabham, 27, first entered the Road to Indy ladder with the USF2000 Championship in 2012, where he captured the 2012 championship with four wins and 11 podium finishes. The 2012 USF2000 scholarship propelled the Australian-American to the Indy Pro 2000 field where 13 victories, 10 pole positions and 15 podiums led to the 2013 title and the chance to compete in Indy Lights for the 2014 season. Brabham went on to collect one victory, one pole position and 10 top-five finishes in 17 Indy Lights race starts.
HMD/Global and Andretti are the only two teams from last year so far confirmed for 2022. Carlin and Juncos have yet to announce plans and Pserra sounds like they’re done. Carlin and Juncos each had 2 cars with Pserra 1.
In their absence though comes Abel Motorsports, Exclusive Autosport, TJ Speed Motorsports and Force Indy.
Exclusive Autosport, TJ Speed Motorsports ans Abel each will run two cars and with Exclusive’s entries still TBA. TJ Speed will feature Kyffin Simpson in one car and James Roe Jr. in the other.
Simpson, 17, ran Indy Pro 2000 last year where he had three podiums in 16 starts with Juncos. He finished eighth in the final standings.
Roe Jr., 23, raced USF2000 in 2018 for two races the came back here last year in Indy Pro 2000. He won the season finale and finished seventh in the final points, one spot ahead of Simpson.
That’s 5 of the top 8 in Indy Pro 2000 last year all graduating up to Indy Lights. There’s also three drivers from Indy Lights last year returning as well.
Force Indy is also moving up to the Indy Lights world too. They’ll bring Ernie Francis Jr. with them in a mega announcement that was unveiled at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on a chilly Thursday morning in January.
Haitian American Francis heads to Force Indy after three wins in his lone season in the Formula Regional Americas Championship and a second-place finish in the inaugural season of the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX), with a win at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Florida native Francis, 24, is also a seven-time class champion in the Trans Am Series (2014-2020). His 47 career victories are the most of any driver in Trans Am history. His 24 wins in the premier TA category trail only Paul Gentilozzi (31), Mark Donohue (29) and Tommy Kendall (28).
So, what’s next?
That’s 16 cars now with the potential for GRG to have one more entry. Then does Carlin or come back? It’s not looking like any of those three will but I never say never in racing.