IndyCar Stars Herta and O’Ward Joining Lux and DeFrancesco in LMP2 Entry
By Holly Cain
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – DragonSpeed announced Monday one of the potent Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) driver lineups for the upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona grid, confirming IndyCar Series burgeoning stars Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward, incoming IndyCar Series rookie Devlin DeFrancesco and sports car veteran Eric Lux will drive the team’s No. 81 ORECA LMP2 07 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 2022 season opener.
DragonSpeed is a two-time LMP2 class Rolex 24 winner – hoisting trophies in 2019 and 2020 and finishing third last year. It is a return engagement for DeFrancesco and Lux, who were part of that 2021 third-place Rolex 24 team and a first-time start with the organization for past Rolex 24 class winners Herta and O’Ward.
It’s exactly the kind of superstar driver mix that makes the Rolex 24 a must-see event.
Herta won three races last year driving for Andretti Autosport in the IndyCar Series. O’Ward earned his first two IndyCar victories and challenged for the championship with Arrow McLaren SP. Herta and O’Ward were teammates with Andretti in Indy Lights in 2018. DeFrancesco will make his IndyCar Series debut in February as Herta’s teammate. And Lux, who made his Rolex 24 debut at age 16 in 2005, is a longtime sports car driver with two career LMP2 wins.
“Obviously, we have a great group of people,’’ said Herta, who won the Rolex 24 in the GT Le Mans class in 2019. “It’s going to be a lot of fun working with Devlin and Pato and Eric. Obviously, the last time we were all racing against each other, I think, would have been back in go-karts, I think around 2011, 2012.
“So, it’s cool to see us come this far and then be teammates in this effort. I’m really looking forward to it and DragonSpeed has shown numerous times they can put a really good car together for a 24-hour race. Excited about that and it’s a really good driver lineup, so it’s going to be super cool and I’m really excited for it.’’
The versatile background and experience levels of the quartet creates an interesting dynamic and may thrust the team into a race “favorite” category.
All four drivers have worked with some combination of their teammates previously. This will be Herta’s fourth Rolex 24 attempt but the 21-year old’s first in a prototype. This will be the 22-year-old O’Ward’s third try but first since 2018, a year after he won seven of eight Prototype Challenge races, including the Rolex 24, to claim that class championship.
This will the 21-year-old DeFrancesco’s third Rolex start and the 12th for the veteran Lux, 33.
“I think it’s just going to be really enjoyable to work with these guys,’’ said O’Ward. “Like Colton said, I’ve been racing against him for so many years. I think it’s going to be really cool to join forces and honestly just extract everything we can out of what we have.
“We can bring a lot to the table, and I know Eric and Devlin have their own knowledge of very different things that Colton and I may not have so much knowledge of, so I think everyone will come together and create a strong package to have a shot at it. I truly feel like we have a great lineup to have a shot at this.”
Between the DragonSpeed team that brings its own top-rate Rolex 24 resume and the list of drivers, expectations are high. And that’s just where the team wants it, particularly with a deep LMP2 field expected.
“For sure the level is going to be high,’’ DeFrancesco said. “A lot of great guys from Europe are coming over. But with (DragonSpeed team principal) Elton Julian and DragonSpeed and the three guys we’re teamed up with, we have a great lineup and we’re ready to send it.”
Lux is optimistic that the team and lineup will help him break through for his first Rolex 24 triumph.
“I’ve come so close to winning this race on several occasions, and for it to become a reality you need the right team, the right car and the right teammates,” he said. “I’ve gotten to know Elton as a co-driver, team owner and friend over the past 10 years, and I’m confident that with DragonSpeed, Devlin, Colton, and Pato, we have what it takes to fight for the win.”