Laguna Seca, land of return for David Malukas

David Malukas (Meyer Shank Racing) will finally begin his 2024 IndyCar season this weekend during the eighth round of the year, this weekend at the Laguna Seca track, in California.

Published on 19/06/2024 à 17:22

Michael Duforest

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Laguna Seca, land of return for David Malukas

© Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

The time must have seemed very long for the American pilot! With two seasons in IndyCar, David Malukas signed late last year to pilot this season for Arrow McLaren, on board the car number 6. A contract which was ultimately not honored by the Papaya team, Malukas having broken his wrist in training last February. The return of the man nicknamed “Little Dave” was postponed several times, ultimately forcing McLaren to break the contract between the two parties.

Without a steering wheel, Malukas benefited from Tom Blomqvist's poor start to the season with Meyer Shank Racing to give himself a steering wheel for the end of the year, starting at Laguna Seca. Coincidentally with the calendar, the American-Lithuanian will return to the seat of an IndyCar in a race for the first time since last season's finale, which was held at… Laguna Seca! The 22-year-old driver has already been able to get a taste of driving his Dallara-Honda during a test session last week on the Milwaukee Mile. Enough to make him even more keen to return to IndyCar for good.

“The test went wonderfully. The speed was there. The team was there. It was really good ", he explained Monday during a press conference. “I can’t wait to be at Laguna Seca. I'm actually going to go to the simulator later today to get ready and then I'll go to Laguna. As soon as I arrived, the team welcomed me with open arms. I felt like family. I felt like I had known everyone forever and saw them again. From Mike Shank, to the engineering team, to the mechanics, everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I think the last ten races will be good for me. »

A “roller coaster” year

The Chicago native obviously looked back on these last few months, where he went through all the emotions. Wounded in his flesh, he also had to deal with the mental wounds that may have been inflicted by a difficult decision by McLaren, but ultimately necessary for the team. In total, Malukas will have been replaced by three drivers this season, Callum Ilott, Theo Pourchaire and now Nolan Siegel.

“It’s been a roller coaster, that’s for sure. It started with a big moment, with signing with Arrow McLaren. Then it became a big low after everything that happened with the injury. I mean the next few months... I would say the stress went away when the contract was terminated, because there wasn't as much pressure to know when I was going to be able to drive again. At the same time, I was working on my hand, doing everything I could in case something happened. The agreement with Meyer Shank Racing has arrived. I called the doctors, they thought I might be ready. The year 2024 built my character and now we are back. »

A still good relationship with McLaren

Dismissed by the troops of Zak Brown and Gavin Ward, David Malukas nevertheless remained in excellent relations with the Arrow McLaren team, which also allowed him to continue working with his trainer, even after the termination of his contract: “I was still able to call on their coach, Sean Smith. He has been fantastic throughout my recovery. We both know that it's very difficult to find someone new when you've already worked with someone who started from the beginning. They always let me use all their equipment. Outside of the team, Tony Kanaan let me use his simulator. It was very cool, very welcoming. »

It now remains to be seen what results Malukas will be able to obtain this year, with the Gateway event still to be contested. At the World Wide Technology Raceway, the young driver remains on two podiums, in 2022 and 2023. Does this bode well for the future?

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