Indy Lights Teams Escape Snowstorm With Two-Day Test At WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

Story By: JUSTIN SHAW / WEATHERTECH RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA – MONTEREY, CA – As the Midwest and east coast got pounded with several feet of snow at the beginning of February, the teams from the Indy Lights series were basking in the Monterey sunshine.

The two-day testing, which took place Feb. 1-2, featured 13 drivers from the five different Indy Lights teams. Five of the 13 drivers were part of the HMD Motorsports family.

“This is the only track on our 2022 calendar that we can test at past December because of the weather at the other tracks,” said Mike Maurini, general manager of HMD. “That’s why we put extra emphasis on coming out here, and we bring extra tires and make it a two-day test instead of just one.”

The beautiful weather wasn’t the only factor for the track rental. The Indy Lights championship finale will take place Sept. 9-11 – alongside the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, which serves as the season finale of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

“Our championship finale is here, and we know we have to perform well in the finale,” Maurini said. “We felt like we struggled here during race weekend last year, so we knew where to start when we got here this week. This is a difficult track; it’s a place where you have to hit your marks to be successful. It’s nice to have this test session in our playbook before coming out here later this year.”

The HMD team finished second, third and fourth in the final 2021 standings, with David Malukas, Linus Lundqvist and Benjamin Pedersen in those spots. Malukas has joined Dale Coyne Racing for his rookie season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Lundqvist and Pedersen remain, and are now joined by new teammates Danial Frost, Christian Bogle and Manuel Sulaiman.

All five drivers were busy over the course of the two-day testing session.

“We did about 100 laps per day, per driver,” Maurini said. “So, between our five drivers, we did 1,000 laps over the two days and we had six or seven sets of tires for all the drivers. Between that and paying for the engine lease mileage, travel, track rentals and more, it’s a very expensive two days and we have to make it worth it. But if we win in September, it will be worth it.”

HMD organized the testing sessions, and were joined by drivers from Abel Motorsports, Andretti Autosport, Force Indy and TJ Speed Motorsports to get work in before the 11-event season begins Feb. 27 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Andretti Autosport driver Sting Ray Bobb clocked the fastest time of the two days with a lap of 73.852 seconds, while Pedersen was second fastest at 74.120. Hunter McElrea (Andretti), Sulaiman and Christian Rasmussen (Andretti) rounded out the top five.

It was all business for the teams while at the track, but they did find a little time to enjoy Monterey.

“We always go out to Cannery Row and have dinner on the water somewhere,” Maurini said. “You can’t go wrong with dinner and a beer or two by the water after a long day of testing.”

Tickets for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Sept. 9-11, are on sale now by calling 831.242.8200. Don’t miss a thrilling week of racing action as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights both conclude their 2022 seasons with exciting finales at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

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