With Michael Andretti’s four-car team set to run Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Romain Grojsean and Devlin DeFrancesco in 2022, Kirkwood currently has only three IndyCar entries – part of his Road To Indy scholarship worth $1.25m – set in stone for next year.
Andersen Promotions, which ran Indy Lights up until this week when IndyCar took over, have stipulated that Kirkwood’s three guaranteed entries are for St. Petersburg, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500.
Following his third test in the #26 Andretti Autosport at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Monday, Kirkwood explained that the end of his contract with the squad had enabled him to pursue possibilities with other outfits.
The 23-year-old reaffirmed his desire to contest all 17 races, explaining that his focus “isn’t really places where I’m only going to get a few races”.
“As of today, November 1st, I’ve been given permission to look elsewhere,” he said.
“I haven’t been able to have conversations. I don’t know exactly what I can and cannot say, so I’m going to keep my mouth shut on the direction.
“We still have a lot of time.
“If push comes to shove, we have to do a few races, obviously I’m going to try and maximise it, get as many races as I possibly can. Ideally we just don’t do three.”
Kyle Kirkwood. Andretti Autosport-Honda
Photo by: Chris Owens
Asked if he would ideally like to race a fifth Andretti car (as per 2019, when AA’s satellite operation Harding Steinbrenner Racing ran Colton Herta in a fifth car), Kirkwood acknowledged that would be his preferred option.
“Racing with them for the past two years, I think that’s really what I hope for,” he said.
“[I] pushed really hard all season to end up in one of their cars. Ideally that would be the best predicament for me.
“Given that I’ve done three tests with them now, knowing the engineers, the mechanics, kind of the whole operation, it’s very similar from Indy Lights to IndyCar how they operate.
“Jumping in and not having to learn a whole new team’s system would be beneficial for me, yeah.”
Kirkwood’s latest test at IMS, which followed prior outings for Andretti at Sebring and Barber, was part of a reward for the top-three finishers in this year’s Indy Lights championship.
David Malukas, soon to be confirmed at Dale Coyne Racing after driving for the squad at Barber last week, drove for Team Penske as part of his prize while Linus Lundqvist took over the #29 Andretti car which has been tested twice by DeFrancesco.
Malukas, who took a picture with the Penske team to commemorate his prize test, said: “I felt very spoiled. Just anything that I needed, they get on with it and get it done in just a few seconds. It was a good experience.”
David Malukas, Team Penske-Chevrolet
Photo by: Chris Owens
Lundqvist, making his IndyCar test debut, described the experience as “one of if not the best of my life so far” but has yet to determine which series he’ll be racing in 2022.
“Unclear I would say,” the 2018 BRDC British Formula 3 champion commented.
“You never really know what’s going to happen. I would love to stay here in the US to start off with.
“Obviously I would love to be in IndyCar next year. If that doesn’t happen, then I’m looking to do Lights another year.”