Kirkwood, who gained the championship in all three classes on the Highway To Indy between 2018 and ’21, scored 10 wins on his solution to the Lights title, however his erstwhile staff proprietor Michael Andretti couldn’t discover a berth in his IndyCar staff for the 23-year-old.
Nonetheless, the teenager’s contract meant he wasn’t allowed to start out negotiating with different groups till November, and so within the meantime he squeezed in three assessments in an Andretti Autosport at Sebring, Barber Motorsports Park and Indianapolis street course.
He brings with him roughly $1.25m in scholarship funding for profitable the Lights crown, which assured him three race entries within the 2022 IndyCar season – St. Petersburg, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and the Indianapolis 500.
Kirkwood commented: “I really met Larry [Foyt, team president] for the primary time in 2018 at Highway America after I was driving in USF2000 with Cape Motorsports. He was the primary individual within the IndyCar paddock to indicate me across the automotive and clarify the dynamics of what it takes to be an IndyCar staff and driver.
“From that second, I felt very snug with the ambiance of the staff and now it has come to fruition that I will likely be driving the #14. It’s exhausting to elucidate in phrases the joy I’ve to drive for such an skilled and legendary staff. I do know I will likely be filling some very large sneakers, however I believe it’s the right timing and group to have the ability to achieve this.
“Contemplating I’ve 19 years of expertise driving, and it’s all led to this second to changing into a full-time IndyCar driver — it’s really a dream come true. It’s unimaginable seeing the utterly surprising path I took in earlier years blossom into one thing I’ve all the time hoped for as a child in karting.”
Picture by: IndyCar Collection
Foyt himself added: “We’re thrilled to welcome Kyle to the staff. Clearly, he has been very profitable on his climb by way of the Highway to Indy Championships and his report speaks for itself.
“This deal got here collectively fairly shortly, however I’ve already been impressed with how Kyle thinks about racing and the maturity he appears to have for such a younger driver. The NTT IndyCar Collection is as aggressive as ever, and the challenges are nice, however we really feel Kyle will likely be an important asset as we tackle these challenges and work to develop as a staff.”
Kirkwood himself described the commencement from Lights to IndyCar as “fairly a simple transition” and that Highway To Indy’s essential position is offering on-track expertise.
“With minimal time throughout weekends, it’s essential to maximise apply,” he commented. “Having the monitor expertise eliminates a time period spent studying so you may solely give attention to the automotive and driving.
“The largest distinction I’ve observed in my assessments is the tyre. The Firestone tire creates much more grip. There are different variations, like steering weight, downforce and braking capabilities, however all of these are only a good step ahead from the Indy Lights automotive.
“I’m positive I’ll know extra as I enter the season, however I do know I will likely be towards some drivers which have years and years of expertise within the automotive and with the tracks. I do know my lack of expertise will damage in some facets, however hopefully my driving will be capable of make up for many of it.”
With Dalton Kellett anticipated to return to the #four Foyt entry – each side are eager to reunite – there stays hypothesis over whether or not the staff can stretch to a few full-time entries, a risk that legendary staff proprietor AJ Foyt and Larry have been mulling since August.
They’re longing for the #14’s earlier occupant, Sebastien Bourdais, to drive for the staff each time his IMSA Ganassi Cadillac commitments enable. There are seven IndyCar/IMSA schedule clashes in 2022, however two of these are on the similar venue, so Bourdais might feasibly pull double-duty at Lengthy Seashore and Detroit.
Concerning sharing that third automotive, Autosport believes Tatiana Calderon, who examined for the staff at Mid-Ohio final yr, is unlikely to remain in Tremendous Components subsequent yr.