TORONTO (July 17, 2022)–The Honda Indy Toronto was welcomed back by race fans in a big way Sunday afternoon at Exhibition Place after a two-year hiatus.
For AJ Foyt Racing, the weekend was bittersweet. The enthusiasm of the fans for A.J. and his team, especially Canadian driver Dalton Kellett, was certainly gratifying. Unfortunately, several issues made for a frustrating weekend on track.
Dalton poses with his parents, Cinde and Mark, and fiancée Nicole Westra prior to the start.
The team’s woes became apparent in qualifying when Kellett missed the entire session due to fuel system problems. Replacing the system last night did not appear to fix the issues which surfaced again halfway through the morning warmup.
The team’s backup plan (frequent fuel stops) never came into play because of a mechanical failure in the engine which is still being investigated. Kellett pitted on lap 24 but six laps later his car started smoking forcing him to retire early. He placed 24th.
“Definitely not the Toronto race weekend we were looking for coming into the first Toronto Indy since the start of the Pandemic,” Kellett said after exiting his No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet. “But, our day has ended early here with what looks like a mechanical engine failure. Something let go inside the engine and we’ll have the Chevy Team on it, and looking to diagnose that so we can find any issues and then rectify that for the later races left in the season. Before that though, we were still having some persistent fueling issues that we were having during qualifying and warm-up. It seemed like the fuel issues weren’t occurring at full tanks and as we were burning fuel, getting lower tank volume, there’s some issue with the way it’s feeding the collector tank and that was causing us problems. So we were already a little bit on the backfoot and that kind of sealed the deal for our race—insult to injury I guess.”
Dalton poses with Arkells band members Mike DeAngelis (L) and Max Kerman. He gave Mike a visor because he is huge race fan. His helmet featured album covers from Canadian bands including the wildly popular Arkells. Kerman and DeAngelis served as grand marshals for the race today.
It was especially disappointing for the Toronto native who had over 200 friends and family in the stands cheering him on.
“I’m very happy to have the hometown crowd here,” Kellett continued. “I’ve been absolutely humbled by the reception and just all of our friends and family and partners with K-Line. All the Toronto race fans and Canadian race fans that have traveled here – a big thank you to all of them. We’ve got tremendous support and just really appreciative of how they’ve embraced this race and embrace their Canadian drivers.”
Kyle Kirkwood experienced a frustrating race as well in his No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet. Starting 24th, Kirkwood had risen as high as 19th and with his final pit stop in the books, he was able to make it on fuel towards the end of the race. Had the race gone green for the final 30 laps, he may have been sitting in a cat bird’s seat.
Unfortunately, there was another yellow and it was for him. Trying to make a pass on Jimmie Johnson, the two collided in Turn 9. Kirkwood’s car had two flat tires and a damaged nose and it appeared he couldn’t steer so the officials told him to exit the car. Johnson was able to continue.
“So, another short end to what could have been potentially a good race,” Kirkwood said, who finished
22nd. “We were on good strategy there at the end with fresher tires and more fuel than everyone else. I went for a pass and I think the person I was passing just didn’t see me. We collided and I ended up in the wall. I got the worst end of the stick that’s for sure. So super unfortunate, but that’s what happens when you’re trying to come back from the back on a street course — sometimes things don’t go your way. But we’ll look forward to Iowa in one week.”
Scott Dixon won the race after starting second. In so doing, he tied Mario Andretti for total Indy car victories at 52. It was his 18th straight season with at least one victory. Finishing second through fifth were pole winner Colton Herta, Felix Rosenqvist, Graham Rahal and Marcus Ericsson.
A.J.’s team will go back to Indianapolis where they will prepare both cars for next weekend’s doubleheader at Iowa Speedway. The Hy-Vee Deals 250 will be broadcast on NBC on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET and the Hy-Vee Salute to Framers 300 will be broadcast Sunday at 3 P.M. ET.