St. Petersburg, FL (Friday, February 25, 2022) – Takuma Sato (#51 Nurtec ODT – Dale Coyne Racing with RWR) and David Malukas (#18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports) might both be driving in their first race for Dale Coyne Racing this weekend, but both of them are also reaching very important milestones. The 45-year-old Japanese driver will be taking part in his 200th NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg while the 20-year-old Malukas is entering his first. Read more on each driver below.
|Takuma Sato Enters 200th NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg|
St. Petersburg, FL (Friday, February 25, 2022) – Dale Coyne Racing with RWR driver Takuma Sato may be making his first start with his new team this weekend as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads to St. Petersburg for the season opening race, but the two-time Indy 500 Champion will also be taking part in his 200th career race in the American open-wheel racing series.
- To mark the occasion Sato will have a special commemorative helmet for this event that will be revealed this weekend on his and the team’s social media outlets.
- 2022 will be his 13th NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. He started in 2010 when he joined KV Racing Technology following his stint in Formula 1.
- Over the course of his career, he’s also competed for AJ Foyt Racing, Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan before switching to Dale Coyne Racing with RWR this season.
- In his 199 races, Sato has picked up six wins, ten pole positions, 70 top ten finishes and has led 902 laps. The veteran driver now looks to build on those numbers with his new team starting with this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
- Sato has finished in the top 6 at St. Petersburg four times with a best finish of fifth, twice (2015 & 2018).
- He started on pole position in St. Petersburg in 2014 and second in 2013 and has a total of five top five starts in this event.
- More recently, he finished sixth in the 2021 edition of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
- Due to limited testing regulations, Sato comes into the first race of the year with just one test day under his belt, but the driver of the #51 Nurtec ODT Honda remains optimistic as he heads into the season opening round.
|TAKUMA SATO #51 NURTEC ODT HONDA – DALE COYNE RACING WITH RWR|
“I’m extremely happy to go back to St.Petersburg, not just because it’s an exciting opener for the 2022 season but because it’s also my first with my new team at Dale Coyne Racing with RWR. It’s been a quite challenging winter as I was restricted to only a single day test on track, but we have prepared the best we could. Everything is new for me, new engineers, new crew guys and a new number (51) so there was a bit extra work for me that needed to be done, but it’s all been very positive and I’m happily settling in and we’re ready to go.
“St.Petersburg is a really gorgeous and perfect venue for the opener. Warm weather, a lot of energy from the city, enthusiastic fans, and great on track action. It’s a quite unique track. The main straight is an iconic runway and it’s very challenging with hard braking into Turn 1. Crossing the wide white stripes upsets the car but then the combination of such high-speed corners for a street course and complex slow speed sections challenges the drivers and I really enjoy it.
“DCR has a successful record in St.Petersburg and I personally have had some of my favorite moments there too so with those two factors, I just can’t wait to drive the beautiful #51 Nurtec ODT Panasonic Honda for the first time in a race weekend.
“Lastly this is my 200th race in IndyCar. I really want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me to make this happen. I’m very fortunate and absolutely thrilled to get the 2022 season started. I’m wearing a one-off special edition 200th race inspired designed helmet this weekend and it is the perfect event to celebrate that accomplishment with this fresh, new start!”
David Malukas Feeling all the Emotions as he Makes His NTT INDYCAR SERIES Debut at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
|St. Petersburg, FL (Friday, February 25, 2022) – Rookie David Malukas is feeling all the emotions as he gets ready to make his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut this weekend aboard his #18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.|
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie graduated from Indy Lights where he finished second in the Indy Lights championship in 2021 on the strength of seven wins, 16 podiums, seven pole positions, four fastest race laps and 18 top-five results in twenty races.This weekend may mark his first time in St. Petersburg as an IndyCar Series driver, but the 20-year-old has known some success in St. Petersburg, picking up a win and a third-place finish last season in the doubleheader weekend while also setting a track record during qualifying.
Malukas impressed in pre-season testing with Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports. Topping the time charts back in October in his first test aboard an NTT INDYCAR SERIES machine and again last week at Sebring International Raceway where he posted the second fastest time of all Series drivers over the two-day test.
Despite his pre-season performance, he enters the first race of the season with low expectations, looking to do the best he can and learn as much as possible as he begins the next chapter of his racing career.
DAVID MALUKAS #18 HMD HONDA – DALE COYNE RACING WITH HMD MOTORSPORTS
“Wow! It’s already time! These past 3 months have gone by slow, but at the same time they went by fast and now here we are in St. Petersburg ready to kick off the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. It’s going to be my first and the number of emotions I’m feeling is incredible and hard to describe. I’m very excited and a little nervous at the same time because I want everything to go well.
“With the way the tests have gone in Sebring last week and also way back in October at Barber, I’m really happy with Dale Coyne Racing and everyone on the team. I think we’re going to have the speed to do well. The main focus for me is to make sure that my pit stops and everything on that end is good and the racing part will come. For this first race the expectations are definitely on the lower side. I want to take it all in, learn as much as possible and in the end try to get the best result I can, as long as I’ve given it my all that’s what matters the most. I can’t wait to get the season started!”
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding
Race 1 of 17
Track length: 1.8-mile, 14-turn
Race Distance: 100 laps (180 miles)
Schedule (all time Eastern)
Friday, February 25, 2022
Practice 1: 3:40pm – 4:25pm (Peacock & INDYCAR Radio)
Saturday, February 26, 2022
Practice 2: 9am – 9:45am (Peacock & INDYCAR Radio)
Qualifying: 12:30pm – 1:45pm (Peacock & INDYCAR Radio)
Sunday, February 27, 2022
Warmup: 8:45am – 9:15am (Peacock & INDYCAR Radio)
Race: Noon – 2:30pm (NBC & INDYCAR Radio)
(Green flag 12:25pm)