IndyCar stars Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward set as Rolex 24 teammates in DragonSpeed LMP2

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  • Colton Herta
    Colton Herta
    American racing driver

NTT IndyCar Series stars Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward will be entering the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona as teammates in the LMP2 division.

Herta and O’Ward will be paired with Devlin DeFrancesco (who will be an IndyCar rookie with Herta at Andretti Autosport next season) and Eric Lux for DragonSpeed’s No. 81. DeFrancesco will make his fourth LMP2 start at Daytona, and Lux, the team’s bronze-rated driver, will be attempting his 12th Rolex 24 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series season opener Jan. 29-30.

DragonSpeed won the Rolex 24 in 2019-20 and finished third at Daytona last season. The team won the LMP2 Pro-Am division at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2021.

“This gives our streak of attracting the best driving talent to DragonSpeed another massive bump,” Elton Julian, the team principal for DragonSpeed, said in a release. “We already know how well Eric and Devlin can perform with us at Daytona from last year, and adding two of IndyCar’s brightest stars to our 2022 squad makes our prospects even more exciting. I can’t help but think it’s too bad we couldn’t secure a DPi for this race, as this lineup clearly deserves one. We certainly tried!

“Most of our LMP2 rivals are capable of delivering a fast, efficient, and reliable run. We aim to do the same and give our all-stars – all with plenty of Daytona experience – the platform they need to make the difference.”

This will be Herta’s fourth consecutive Rolex 24 start but his first in a prototype. He was part of the GTLM-winning entry of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with the BMW M8 GTE in 2019.

“I’m pretty comfortable at Daytona, but I’ve never driven a prototype before so I’ll be focused on getting to grips with that,” Herta, 21, said in a release. “The fact that DragonSpeed have consistently delivered a great car at Daytona is a confidence boost, and I can’t wait to get stuck in with Devlin and Pato. I’ve been really good friends with them for a long time and to team up together at the Rolex is going to be a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward just a much to working with Eric as one of the top Bronze drivers. Driving in races like the Rolex is so good for your development as a driver, preparing you for different situations and making you more adaptable in terms of race strategy and driving approach.”

O’Ward will be making his third start in the Rolex 24 but first since 2018, having won the LMPC class as a rookie in ’17.

“I think it’s a great lineup which gives us a real shot at winning,” O’Ward, 22, said. “We’re all part of the same generation, so coming together for this race makes a very cool reunion. It’s a long few days in Daytona so it’s important to be able to enjoy the experience with your teammates. Sportscar racing is very different from what we do in IndyCar, with the priority on achieving a balance in the car that all the drivers are comfortable with. The heavy traffic with high speed differentials is another challenge, so factors like patience and consistency are critical at the Rolex.”

O’Ward and Herta both won multiple races in the NTT IndyCar Series last year. O’Ward broke for his first career victory at Texas Motor Speedway with Arrow McLaren SP, and Herta tied for the series lead with three victories, including the final two at Laguna Seca and Long Beach.

DeFrancesco, 21, was the Indy Lights rookie of the year last season.

“The Rolex 24 is always an awesome way to kick off the racing season, and I’m really looking forward to returning in 2022 with DragonSpeed and having my old friends Pato and Colton as part of the package,” DeFrancesco said. “I have a big season ahead stepping into INDYCAR but I always find Daytona an energizing start to the. I expect that will be even more so this January sharing the experience with Colton and Pato! I really enjoyed driving with Elton and the team last year and to return with this line-up in 2022 is just brilliant.”

The Rolex 24 car will be sponsored by Kimoa, the clothing and accessories brand founded by two-time F1 champion and 2019 Rolex 24 winner Fernando Alonso.

<em>The No. 81 LMP2 for the 60th Rolex 24 (DragonSpeed)</em>
The No. 81 LMP2 for the 60th Rolex 24 (DragonSpeed)

IndyCar stars Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward set as Rolex 24 teammates in DragonSpeed LMP2 originally appeared on NBCSports.com