The 2021 Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood was one of three drivers who completed an IndyCar test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, and now he has his sights set on securing a ride for 2022.
Kirkwood won his title while driving for the historic Andretti Autosport team, which runs a three-car Indy Lights program in addition to its full IndyCar outfit.
When asked if winning the Indy Lights championship has opened doors to sponsorship opportunities, he replied that is actually his relationship with Andretti that has helped him get in touch with the most people.
“I would say more so just being with Andretti, having a lot of contacts from there the entire season,” said Kirkwood.
“I’ve built up some relationships with people there. That has been super important. Yeah, it’s hard, of course, to build up sponsors if you don’t have a direction of where you’re going.
“You don’t know what team you’re going to, what conflicts you already have. It’s hard to build up sponsorship in that sense.”
The continuity of driving for the same team that he is already familiar with was beneficial during Monday’s test, allowing him to concentrate on the car rather than other external factors.
And even though he is not able to reveal information regarding his plans for next season, Kirkwood did give some hints as to what his ideal career path will be.
“As of today, which today is November 1st, I’ve been given permission to look elsewhere. I haven’t yet been able to have conversations. I don’t know exactly what I can and cannot say, so I’m going to keep my mouth shut on the direction.
“Racing with [Andretti] for the past two years, I think [staying within the team] is really what I hope for. Pushed really hard all season to end up in one of their cars. Ideally that would be the best predicament for me.
“Given that I’ve done three tests with them now, knowing the engineers, the mechanics, kind of the whole operation, it’s very similar from Indy Lights to IndyCar how they operate.
“Jumping in and not having to learn a whole new team’s system would be beneficial for me, yeah.”
As a product of winning the Lights title in 2021, Kirkwood is guaranteed a seat in at least three IndyCar races next season. The offering would be moot, however, if he is able to nail down a full time ride for himself.