The calendar just turned to February but the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season is only three weeks away. This will be just the fifth time since 1926 that the series has held a race in February, and two of those came in Argentina back in 1971. The Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg will take place on February 27 on the streets of sunny Florida.

2022 IndyCar Season Preview

Last season was full of surprises, from first-time race winners to a new champion in just his second year in the cockpit. Then there was that iconic return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where hundreds of thousands of fans were able to witness the newest member of the four-time winner’s club. It won’t be easy to top the 2021 campaign but this season will aim to do just that.

Like every year, there are a number of changes to note heading into the new season. The biggest changes revolve around Silly Season as drivers change teams and have new working relationships with the crew and their engineers. There has been plenty of that, beginning with a former Formula One veteran heading to one of the top teams in the series.

After a wild and successful rookie season, Romain Grosjean has made the move to Andretti Autosport, taking over the No. 28 Honda. He replaces 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner and former series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who may not have a seat at all this year. Grosjean is just one of Andretti’s new drivers as rookie Devlin DeFrancesco takes hold of the No. 29 seat.

After their Indy 500 triumph last year, Meyer Shank Racing will have two full-time cars this season with Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud. The two were longtime teammates at Team Penske, and both just recently won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in Shank’s No. 60 Acura machine. Pagenaud’s former seat at Penske has been shelved, as Roger Penske has decided to run just three cars this year.

Shank’s former driver Jack Harvey decided to make the move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, where he will be part of a three-car lineup for the team. Graham Rahal returns to the No. 15 and Christian Lundgaard will take over the No. 30 car, replacing Takuma Sato. The Japanese driver and two-time Indy 500 winner has moved to the vacated No. 51 car at Dale Coyne w/ Rick Ware Racing.

Lundgaard is just one of the drivers in a talented rookie class this year. He will compete with Callum Ilott (Juncos Hollinger Racing), DeFrancesco (Andretti), Kyle Kirkwood (AJ Foyt Racing), and David Malukas, who takes over the No. 18 Honda at Coyne. Jimmie Johnson is now ready to tackle the full season, which includes his first venture into the Month of May at Indianapolis.

Tony Kanaan will still have a ride with Ganassi at the Indianapolis 500 as the popular Brazilian seeks his second victory in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Conor Daly takes over the No. 20 Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing on a full-time basis, with the team boss aiming to do Indy and possibly another oval or two later in the season. Tatiana Calderon will drive a third car for Foyt’s team on the road and street courses.

Looking ahead to the Month of May there are several drivers that have already announced their plans. Juan Montoya will be back with Arrow McLaren SP seeking his third Indy 500 win. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced that they will field two cars in the race this year with Sage Karam and Santino Ferrucci. Carpenter and Kanaan are in and several others are still in play. Marco Andretti is a lock to be back and Paretta Autosport and Top Gun Racing are trying to finalize their plans as well.

The calendar will again consist of 17 rounds, with just one doubleheader scheduled this year. That will take place at Iowa Speedway as the series returns to the short oval in late July. There will be an oval before Indy this year as Texas will host round 2 of the schedule but there will not be any night races this season. Following Indy will be just one race at Belle Isle, and it will be the last one as the series heads back to the streets of downtown Detroit next year.

The competition will be fierce as this field is incredibly deep. The talent at the top is elite and there will be several championship contenders. Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Pato O’Ward, and reigning champ Alex Palou will all have their sights set on the title. All eyes will soon be on St Petersburg.