Road to Indy test preview: Nannini and Foster sizing up a move to the US

With thirteen cars on the Indy Lights entry list for this weekend’s Chris Griffis Memorial open test, we get a first glimpse of what the grid for 2022 could look like. Here’s your run-through ahead of this weekend’s testing action, which also includes Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000

By Jeroen Demmendaal

Plenty of changes are coming for Indy Lights powerhouse teams HMD Motorsports and Andretti Autosport in 2022, and the entry list for the Chris Griffis Memorial confirms as much. Andretti shows up with new signing Sting Ray Robb, the 2020 Indy Pro 2000 champion, as well as 2021 Indy Pro champion Christian Rasmussen and multiple Indy Pro race winner Hunter McElrea. 

The fourth Andretti car, intriguingly, is chauffeured by Matthew Brabham, who won the then Pro Mazda series in 2013 with Andretti and finished 4th in Lights the year after. Already 27 years old by now, Brabham is one of the most untipped names to appear on the entry list, but definitely an interesting one.

Series team champions HMD show up with no less than five cars and drivers. Benjamin Pedersen and Manuel Sulaiman already ran with the team in 2021, while Danial Frost drove Lights for Andretti this year and now gets a taste of the competition. Christian Bogle teamed up with Carlin in Lights earlier this year, while Force Indy protégé Ernie Francis Jr gets his first Lights run with HMD. For now, this arrangement seems to be a one-off: Force Indy is expected to field its own Lights car in 2022.

Credit: Gavin Baker/RTI PR

Not all names fielded by HMD and Andretti are a shoo-in for a race seat in 2022, but let’s say that you shouldn’t be surprised to see several of those names return on the 2022 Lights grid. According to our latest information, both Andretti and HMD will field at least four cars next year, while a fifth entry is not out of the question for HMD and their partners Global Racing Group.

More interesting names

The new combination of Juncos Hollinger Racing comes to Indianapolis with two cars. One is driven by a familiar name in the form of Rasmus Lindh, the former Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 runner-up. Juncos needs a driver of Lindh’s calibre if they want to get back to winning ways again, so let’s hope that the young Swede can find the budget to finally run a full season of Lights.

The other name at Juncos Hollinger is an intriguing one: FIA F2 and F3 driver Matteo Nannini. His Argentinian heritage makes him a natural fit for Ricardo Juncos’ squad, but F1 Feeder Series has learned that the Italian is in talks with at least one other Lights team about a seat for 2022. Nannini’s performances this weekend will no doubt be closely followed by many.

Credit: Gavin Baker/RTI PR

Another interesting name on the Lights list is Jacob Abel with his eponymous racing team, who competed in Indy Pro 2000 this year. As F1 Feeder Series already reported this summer, two existing Road to Indy teams are planning to enter Lights as of 2022. With the arrival of Abel Motorsports on the entry list for this weekend, you now know the name of one of them.

As for the other new team, F1 Feeder Series understands that the original plan was for them to be at the Chris Griffis test as well. However, a slight delay in delivery of some parts has put those plans on hold. Despite this delay, the team is still very much aiming for a Lights campaign in 2022.

The third all-new team on the grid in 2022 will be TJ Speed Motorsports, with recent signing Kyffin Simpson. The 17-year-old from the Cayman Islands has already racked up thousands of testing miles in his Dallara IL-15, but this weekend he can compare himself to the competition for the first time and see where he and the team stand.

The most obvious absentees this weekend are Carlin. The team told F1 Feeder Series earlier this month it has not left Indy Lights, but we also learned that the team’s sole car (which was leased from another team and driven by Alex Peroni this year) has been sold to Abel Motorsports. That seems to leave Carlin without any Lights cars at the moment, as Christian Bogle owns his Dallara IL-15.

Credit: Gavin Baker/RTI PR

Not on the entry list, but scheduled to attend the Chris Griffis, is Antonio Serravalle with the Pserra Racing organization run by his father. The young Canadian, who ran his rookie campaign in 2021 and finished 12th overall, is still only 19 years old and has time on his side.

Counting in Pserra, the entry list for this weekend adds up to fourteen cars. Where’s the room for further growth, then? As we reported earlier, TJ Speed is looking to field two cars in 2022 and could run a third if everything works out and a driver with sufficient budget can be found.

Both Abel and Pserra might come up with a second car, while the aforementioned other Road to Indy team to enter Lights in 2022 will field at least one car. And if Carlin does return, that adds at least one more. So while a 16–18 car grid is likely for 2022, as much as 20 cars are possible under the best scenario.

Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000

There are plenty of interesting names in the Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 fields as well. F1 Feeder Series was told earlier this summer that Euroformula Open runner-up Louis Foster had an interest in Indy Pro 2000, so seeing his name on that entry list confirms that intel. We’ve also learned that Foster already tested an Indy Pro car a few weeks ago, so don’t be surprised if he soon announces a full Indy Pro 2000 campaign for 2022.

Another intriguing addition to the Indy Pro field is Casey Putsch. The YouTube star, automotive designer and artist has already been announced as a new signing for Legacy Autosport’s Indy Pro campaign for 2022, and will no doubt bring a lot of new eyeballs to the Road to Indy. He’s not new to racing either, having driven a variety of race cars in recent years.

Elsewhere, the field contains a lot of USF2000 graduates: from this year’s top-5 in the championship, only Michael d’Orlando is missing, while Nolan Siegel (8th overall) and Billy Frazer (12th) also take a step upwards. Nicholas Rivers, who was previously in the frame for a seat at Force Indy and finished 8th overall in US F4 in 2020, gets his first taste of Indy Pro with Jay Howard Driver Development.

The USF2000 field contains some familiar names that were rookies this year and will aim for a championship in 2022, such as Thomas Nepveu and Dylan Christie. In terms of notable rookies, Swede Viktor Andersson steps up from US F4, while USF1600 champion Nicholas d’Orlando hopes to follow in the footsteps of his brother. Jagger Jones is a 19-year-old stock car driver and the grandson of IndyCar legend Parnelli Jones.

Testing will start at 08.00 Eastern (14.00 CET) on Saturday, with each series getting a total of six session throughout the weekend. Live timing is available on the series’ respective websites or via the Road to Indy app.

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