By: Spencer Neff
February 20, 2023
The 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season would provide a number of changes for Dale Coyne Racing. While the Illinois-based team remained at two cars and Rick Ware Racing remained with the No. 51, a new team would join the fold as well.
Continuing a partnership formed during Indy Lights (now INDY NXT By Firestone), HMD Motorsport would partner with DCR for the No. 18 entry. Rookie David Malukas joined as the driver. Alongside Malukas, Takuma Sato would be added to drive the No. 51.
Sato began the new partnership with a charge from 22nd to 10th in the opening round on the street course in St. Petersburg, Florida. He qualified third and led three laps at Texas on March 20 but finished 20th.
May and June would proved the hard-charging Tokyo native with some of his best results.
During this run, he finished seventh at the GMR Grand Prix, qualified 10th at the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and started second a week later at Belle Isle. At WorldWide Technology Raceway, the 2019 race winner led 55 laps and finished a season-best fifth.
While there had been some mutual interest reported for Sato coming back to DCR for the oval portion of the schedule, it did not materialize.
Making the jump from Lights to INDYCAR, Chicago native Malukas found himself at the wheel of the No. 18 with backing from his family-owned HMD Motorsport. Malukas climbed from 19th to 11th and led three laps in his first oval action at Texas Motor Speedway.
At the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented By Gainbridge, he persevered through a Carb Day practice crash and finished 16th, best among the seven rookies participating.
The next week, he made the first of four appearances in the Fast Six (final round) of qualifying, doing so in his first race at Belle Isle.
In July, Malukas qualified a season-best fifth at Toronto and earned a ninth-place finish (his best to date) at the second Iowa Speedway race.
The signature moment of Malukas’ season would come in August at Worldwide Technology Raceway. During the Gateway event, the No. 18 utilized a late pit stop to charge through the field and score a second-place finish. Malukas would end the night just .4708 of a second back of race winner Josef Newgarden.
Sting Ray Robb
Signed to the No. 51, 2022 Indy Lights runner-up Sting Ray Robb makes his INDYCAR debut in 2023.
In finishing second to Linus Lundqvist, Robb earned three pole positions, converting the last one into his first series victory. That victory would occur at the penultimate race in WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The Payette, Idaho native participated in his first Open Test earlier this month at the Thermal Club.
Header Image: Sato and Malukas at the Hyvee Salute to Famers 300 on July 24 at Iowa Speedway (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)