DeFrancesco looking to build on ‘2.0 version of myself’ in IndyCar

DeFrancesco looking to build on ‘2.0 version of myself’ in IndyCar
DeFrancesco looking to build on ‘2.0 version of myself’ in IndyCar

Coming off a solid Mid-Ohio weekend where he ran ahead of Andretti Autosport teammate Romain Grosjean for significant portions of the race, Devlin DeFrancesco hopes to take that momentum and turn it into an ongoing opportunity for himself in the NTT IndyCar Series.

As the Italian-Canadian driver moves into the final months of his contract with the Andretti team, the 23-year-old will be busy chasing more quality finishes and a new home to continue his open-wheel journey after the championship concludes in Monterey.

DeFrancesco started with Andretti in 2020 on the USF Championships presented by Cooper Tires ladder and progressed from Indy Pro 2000 through Indy Lights to IndyCar with Steinbrenner Racing actively involved as a co-entrant.

Confirmation from the Andretti team on its postseason plans to switch DeFrancesco’s No. 29 Honda from a driver-funded entry to one that utilizes sponsors and a driver supplied by Andretti has DeFrancesco on a countdown to chart his next move and secure one of the various seats available elsewhere in the paddock.

“Andretti has been my home for the last four years, and Michael [Andretti], [team president] JF [Thormann], and [COO] Rob Edwards, they’ve all treated me really well,” DeFrancesco told RACER. “I’ve had some amazing support from the Steinbrenner family, Sean Jones; even Brian Herta has been a big supporter of mine. I’m a very lucky guy, I really am.”

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Andretti is not expected to have formal confirmation of who will take over the No. 29 car until later in the season. Most of the drivers headed into free agency have an August 1 threshold — or later — to cross before they are contractually permitted to begin negotiations with other teams, and with his impending availability known within the series, RACER is aware of at least three teams that have expressed an interest in DeFrancesco for 2024.

“I totally understand that it’s business, and there are some great teams who have reached out to us,” he said. “That’s not something I get involved with until the end of that process, so right now, I’m focused on IndyCar and I want to finish these next eight races on a high for sure.”

DeFrancesco eclipsed a number of luminaries, including teammate Grosjean, last time out at Mid-Ohio. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

DeFrancesco’s rookie IndyCar campaign was rocky at times, but he persevered and showed marked improvement towards the end of 2022. The upward trend has continued through the first half of his sophomore run in the series with stronger average qualifying positions (+2.22) and finishing positions (+1.78) in 2023.

“We were running in the top 10 at Mid-Ohio and Road America, and we had a strong showing at the Indy 500,” he said of his run to 13th. “I definitely see improvement in myself, and the 29 car works very well today. I love everybody on the 29 car — all my mechanics, my engineers, and had a great debut with [race strategist] Scott Horner on the stand last time. I am pumped for the ovals, too, that are coming up. It feels like I’m the ‘2.0’ version of myself and I’m building on that to become better each time I’m in the car.”

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