2021 Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood has been announced by A.J. Foyt Enterprises as the pilot of the No. 14 car for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season.
The 23-year-old American is the only driver to win championships at every level of the Road to Indy ladder, starting with USF2000 in 2018, Indy Pro 2000 in 2019 on top of last season’s Indy Lights championship. Kirkwood’s historic Lights campaign included seven pole positions and 10 wins in 20 races, tying the season win record set by Greg Moore in 1995.
“…His record speaks for itself,” said Team President Larry Foyt.
“This deal came together rather quickly, but I’ve already been impressed with how Kyle thinks about racing and the maturity he seems to have for such a young driver. The NTT IndyCar Series is as competitive as ever, and the challenges are great, but we feel Kyle will be a great asset as we take on those challenges and work to grow as a team.”
In a press conference after the announcement of his signing, Foyt revealed that this deal came together in just ten days.
Kirkwood has history with Foyt dating back to 2018, first meeting at Road America while he was racing in USF2000.
“[Larry Foyt] was the first person in the IndyCar paddock to show me around the car and explain the dynamics of what it takes to be an Indy car team and driver,” Kirkwood said.
“From that moment, I felt very comfortable with the atmosphere of the team and now it has come to fruition that I will be driving the No. 14.”
Kirkwood us well aware of the large boots he has to fill, replacing four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais who will run the full IMSA schedule next year as a part of Chip Ganassi Racing‘s DPi program. But the Florida native has full confidence that he can take the torch from Bourdais.
“…I think it’s the perfect timing and group to be able to do so.” he said.
Kirkwood has tested in an IndyCar three times, most recently at the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course earlier this month. While he claims that the proper Indy car isn’t much different to his Lights machine, he has noticed a significant increase in grip thanks to the tyres.
“The Firestone tire creates a lot more grip,” he noted.
“There are other differences, like steering weight, downforce and braking capabilities, but all of those are just a nice step forward from the Indy Lights car.”
Kirkwood also acknowledged that his lack of experience will be a hurdle he has to overcome in his rookie season, but once again answered full of confidence in himself and the team.
“…I know I will be against some drivers that have years and years of experience in the car and with the tracks. I know my lack of experience will hurt in some aspects, but hopefully my driving will be able to make up for most of it.”
Kirkwood joins an exciting rookie class including fellow Lights graduate Devlin DeFrancesco, Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard. He makes his NTT IndyCar Series debut on 27 February 2022 at the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.