Monday, March 27, 2023

David Malukas’s Road to Indy Journey ‘Was A Good Couple Years to Build Character’ Toward IndyCar

David Malukas practices at the 2022 Honda Indy Toronto
David Malukas practices at the 2022 Honda Indy Toronto. Photo courtesy of Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment.

TORONTO — David Malukas’s first Road to Indy race weekend in Toronto ended against the Turn 4 wall. As the Chicago native phrased it, “I was just doing a lot of stupid things as a kid.”

Back in 2017, Malukas was battling with Alex Baron for the race lead in the second USF2000 race of the weekend. Malukas was on the inside heading to Turn 3 when the pair had contact exiting the corner, sending Baron spinning into the side of Malukas’s car that spun around as a result, ending up against the wall. 

Eventual series champion Oliver Askew had nowhere to go and hit Baron’s spinning car with the nose of his No. 3 machine. Malukas argued with Baron, but the damage was already done.

That became a learning experience for the then-teenager.

“If you’re not honest [with] yourself and you just lie about it, you can’t really know that that was dumb and learn from it,” Malukas said. “If you keep saying like, ‘Oh, it wasn’t my fault. It was this, this, this, and the way the stars aligned, it was not my fault,’ but say it that way, then you never can really get better. Everybody makes mistakes. And you just have to know that. Yeah, you did one, it’s normal, learn from it.”

In his other four Road to Indy starts at the circuit around Exhibition Place, Malukas had three ninths and an eighth. While those results may not be the best, they allowed Malukas the chance to grow and mature as a driver.

Those seasons in the Road to Indy gave the 20-year-old the skills to finish second in the 2021 Indy Lights championship, spring boarding him into the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda.

The start of the 2022 IndyCar season did not treat the rookie kindly with two crashes in the first three races of the season. However, Malukas and his team have found a rhythm that was visible to all at the most recent IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio.

Malukas was eighth and fourth fastest in both pre-qualifying practice sessions at Mid-Ohio before advancing to the second round in qualifying with one of the fastest cars on that track. Instead of going to the Fast Six, Malukas qualified eighth after not having sufficient grip because of turbulence from following eventual polesitter Pato O’Ward too closely in qualifying.

While O’Ward was celebrating a pole position, Malukas was seething on the sidelines, but happy he was that far up the grid. After starting eighth, Malukas finished ninth for his first top-10 finish in IndyCar competition.

Moving forward to the Honda Indy Toronto, Malukas has been 14th and eighth in the two practice sessions so far. His fastest lap of the weekend is ninth on the combined results sheet in practice and will be in the first qualifying group later on Saturday afternoon.

IndyCar qualifying starts at 2:00 p.m. ET on Peacock with the 85-lap live race broadcast starting at 3:00 p.m. ET, exclusively on Peacock.

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