By Steve Wittich
After a second-place finish in the 2020 Indy Pro 2000 standings, Devlin DeFrancesco and Andretti Steinbrenner Racing will be making the jump up the Road To Indy for an assault on the Indy Lights championship and the NTT INDYCAR® SERIES Scholarship for at least three races.
The Toronto, Ontario, Canada born driver finished his impressive first season of Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires action in the top three in wins (two), poles (three), podiums (6), top tens (15), and laps led (94).
“I’m super excited to be back with Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport for Indy Lights in 2021,” said the soon to be 21-year-old. “I think we had quite a successful Indy Pro 2000 season in 2020. Considering we have all the pieces for 2021 and Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport has an incredible history in Indy Lights. Mark Bryant, my engineer, had a lot of success in 2018 with Patricio [O’Ward] as well as INDYCAR experience with Andretti. I have a great team around me and can’t express how ready I am to get going.”
Andretti Steinbrenner Racing returns to the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series after a two-year hiatus with the George Michael Steinbrenner IV squad moving to the NTT INDYCAR® SERIES with Colton Herta. In two seasons of Indy Lights competition, Andretti Steinbrenner Racing collected six wins, ten poles, and 20 podiums on the way to second and third-place championship finishes while campaigning Herta.
“We are excited to get Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport back into Indy Lights with Devlin for the 2021 season,” explained Steinbrenner. “We had a good amount of success in the Indy Pro 2000 series in 2020 with Devlin. We hope to build on that momentum and aim to field an entry comparable to the one Colton Herta piloted in 2017 and 2018.”
After a standout career in karts, DeFrancesco made a move to cars as a 15-year-old in 2015. He made his debut in open-wheel cars in 2016, contesting the F4 British Championship while also racing in the ADAC Formel 4 Championship and Italian F4 Championship when time allowed. The then 16-year-old won three races, one pole, and had ten podiums on the way to a fifth place in the United Kingdom. DeFrancesco’s 2017 included a third-place finish in EuroFormula Open and few appearances in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. The Juan Montoya mentored driver spent the next two years in the GP3 Series and FIA Formula Three Championship before moving back to North America in 2020.
DeFrancesco joins the already announced Kyle Kirkwood and Danial Frost as the Andretti Autosport squad looks to win their fifth title on the Road To Indy’s top rung. Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward, the last two Andretti Autosport Indy Lights champions, finished the 2020 NTT INDYCAR® SERIES in third and fourth place, respectively. The twosome combined for one win, two poles, six podiums, and 13 top-five finishes in 2020.
“It is great to have to Devlin make the next step up to Indy Lights in the Road to Indy program,” said J-F Thormann, president, Andretti Autosport. “Devlin had an impressive rookie campaign in Indy Pro 2000 and we are excited to see what he can do in an Indy Lights car. We are also thrilled to have Steinbrenner Racing back in the Indy Lights paddock alongside Andretti Autosport. Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport has a history of success in Indy Lights and we are proud to be back in the field.”
The first official Indy Lights track activity will occur during spring training at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 24, 2020. The 20-race calendar kicks off in St. Petersburg, Fla. on March 5, 2020.
Thoughts from Steve
- I really hope that the bright livery returns for the No. 17. It was effortless to pick out on the track.
- It was great to have DeFrancesco back in North America in 2020. I pay close attention to North American’s racing in Europe. It became clear to me that the Toronto, Ontario born, Miami, Fla. resident was getting the opportunity to showcase his talent in his final two seasons in Europe.
- DeFrancesco should be applauded for his results in an experienced 2020 Indy Pro 2000 field. The car and circuits were entirely new for the two-time winner, who had no time to test in a PM-18 before the season. Also, the car was completely new to Andretti Steinbrenner Racing.
- DeFrancesco is the third driver announced for what is expected to be a four-car Indy Lights effort for Andretti Autosport/Andretti Steinbrenner Racing.
- The car count for Indy Lights is shaping up to be much healthier in 2021. We expect four cars from Andretti Autosport, four cars from the recently announced HMD Motorsports/Global Racing Group tie-up. TSO also expects multiple entries from Juncos Racing and a new team to be named soon.