Notes & Quotes: Bommarito Automotive Group 500

The NTT INDYCAR Series returns to oval track racing this weekend for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at the 1.25 mile World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill, just east of St. Louis. This event marks the fourth and final oval event (third oval venue) where the series will compete during the 2021 season.

Following the scheduling format that was put into place last year due to pandemic protocol, the condensed weekend results in a single day show. Practice, qualifying and the race will all take place Saturday, August 21st.

The AJ Foyt Racing stable tested at World Wide Technology Raceway earlier this summer during the Olympic break. Dalton Kellett, driver of the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, is looking forward to racing here in an Indy car for the first time, although he did compete in the Indy Lights Series with a best finish of seventh. Kellett did not race here last year because he was contracted for road and street courses only in the No. 14 (along with current teammate Sébastien Bourdais). Tony Kanaan competed on the ovals last year.

Despite his lack of Indy car experience here, Kellett enjoyed a positive test and is looking forward to the challenge.

Dalton Kellett: “Looking forward to the race at World Wide Technology Raceway. We had a good test there about a month ago during the break and it’s an exciting track to drive by yourself, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in terms of the race. I know last year it was tough to pass, so that’s going to be important for the teams to figure out and see if they can make passes happen. Also qualifying is going to be key, getting that good track position. It’s also a semi-impound race so you have to make that decision: do you optimize qualifying or the race? So that’s going to be what we’re discussing between now and green flag on Saturday. Overall looking forward to getting back to some oval racing. We’ll have some excitement under the lights at Gateway for sure.”

Bourdais also tested the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet in July, but the veteran has tempered expectations for a race where he knows track position is key and passing is notoriously difficult.

Sébastien Bourdais: “Gateway is a really difficult place. Same thing here (at the IMS road course) track position is key, passing is almost impossible, unless you get bottled up in traffic and give somebody a big run, but overall, it’s a big track position game. We didn’t have the best of tests during the summer break. Pretty sad day to be honest over there, so not showing up over there with very high expectations, but sometimes you don’t have very high expectations and it turns out better than you think. It’s definitely a track that I know my way around. I was almost on pole in 2019 and ran at the front all night long until I kind of made a mistake on cold tires and stuffed it. There’s a bit of unfinished business over there so hopefully we can do something.”

Past Performance at WWTR: Bourdais’s best start is 2nd in 2019 while his best finish is 10th in 2017. The Foyt Team’s best start is 8th (2017 – Carlos Muñoz) and its best finish is 3rd (2019 – Tony Kanaan).

Last Race: The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as part of The Brickyard weekend alongside NASCAR. Bourdais qualified 15th and finished 15th. A potential top-12 was expected until Bourdais tangled with Ryan Hunter-Reay in a battle for 15th towards the end of the race. Both drivers continued after an off track excursion, but it cost Bourdais about six positions which he was able to make up. Kellett qualified 28th and finished 26th due to an issue with handling.

The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 airs live on NBCSN beginning at 8:00 PM ET on Saturday, 21st. The first and only practice will take place earlier that day at 1:15 PM ET followed by a one-hour qualifying session at 5:00 PM ET, with both streaming live on Peacock Premium.