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Santino Ferrucci Joins AJ Foyt Racing for 2023 NTT INDYCAR Series

Santino Ferrucci Joins AJ Foyt Racing for 2023 NTT INDYCAR Series

HOUSTON (Oct. 6, 2022) — Santino Ferrucci is once again a full-time driver in the NTT INDYCAR Series as he has been named to pilot the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet in 2023. Ferrucci is the latest hire for the legendary team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters. 

Last week, AJ Foyt Racing announced that Benjamin Pedersen would make his INDYCAR debut in a Chevrolet-powered Dallara fielded out of their Indianapolis race shop.

For the last two years, Ferrucci seemed to be the “go-to” guy when race teams needed a substitute driver. While appreciative to receive the calls, Ferrucci is thrilled he won’t be available for subbing in 2023.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full-time,” said Ferrucci. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a racecar driver and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Team President Larry Foyt consulted with his famous father about bringing Ferrucci into the fold for 2023. The senior Foyt had chatted with the curly-haired youngster on several occasions this year and liked his attitude. 

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said. “He’s shown a knack for getting towards the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci is equally enthused about the move to AJ Foyt Racing.

“It’s going to be a very unique opportunity to work with both A.J. and Larry closely to build a new program,” he said. “To race for a legend like A.J. Foyt — it’s a dream come true. I like to think of myself as an “old school” driver who likes loose race cars and gets behind the wheel of anything with four wheels and an engine. So driving for a guy like A.J., knowing that he drove everything throughout his career, it’s going to be a chance of a lifetime for me.”

The Connecticut native made his debut in America’s premier open wheel series in 2018 when Dale Coyne Racing tapped him to drive for Pietro Fittipaldi, who was injured in a sports car crash. Until then, Ferrucci had been focused on driving in Formula 1, having moved to Europe at the age of 14 to compete in various junior formulas. Ferrucci holds the record for the youngest British Formula 3 Series winner at the age of 16 and has also raced in the FIA Formula 2 Championship. He has also driven for the Haas F1 team as a development driver from 2017-2018. 

“INDYCAR became my goal after leaving F1 in 2018,” Ferrucci revealed. “I finished up my season in Europe and was asked to fill in for Pietro (Fittipaldi) in the Detroit Grand Prix. I instantly fell in love with the cars, the style of racing and the people. That’s when I knew that INDYCAR needed to be my new home.”

Ferrucci signed a full season deal with Dale Coyne Racing in 2019 and earned Rookie of the Year honors in his first Indianapolis 500 after finishing seventh. Since, he has competed in three additional Indianapolis 500 races, and Ferrucci has never finished outside of the top-10. In 2020, Ferrucci had his best finish of fourth.

When a full season ride didn’t materialize in 2021, Ferrucci found himself in the role of an INDYCAR “supersub” driver. However, Ferrucci didn’t sit idle waiting for the phone to ring. He inked a deal to drive for Sam Hunt in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – making nine starts over the last two years. In just his second start, he had a career- best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

Ferrucci participated in the 2021 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals where 300-plus midgets race over the course of six nights on a quarter-mile clay track inside the Tulsa, Okla. Expo Center. Ferrucci didn’t make it to the final 24 car field, but his debut in midgets was memorable enough that he’s interested in doing it again.

When Ferrucci was asked if his varied experience helped him to adapt quickly to the Indy car, he replied, “Yes and no. I’ve driven everything from dirt cars to stock cars to go-karts to Indy cars to F1 cars, and driving Indy cars demands a very unique driving style. It’s definitely the type of car where uncomfortable is fast — and it’s very hard to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Apparently the 24-year-old has figured out how to enjoy being uncomfortably fast, as he added,

“There’s nothing like being on a short oval ripping through the gears three-wide at a place like Iowa Speedway or going 240mph at Indy. There’s just nothing like that in existence anywhere else in motorsports. Bring on 2023.”

And that is something his 87-year-old boss can appreciate.

Santino Ferrucci at the Victory Celebration for the 106th Indianapolis 500 Presented By Gainbridge (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment- Joe Skibinski)

Benjamin Pedersen Hired to Drive for AJ Foyt Racing

Benjamin Pedersen gets ready for an Indy Lights race (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 28, 2022) – AJ Foyt Racing Team President Larry Foyt has hired Benjamin Pedersen, the 23-year-old Indy Lights veteran, to drive one of the team’s Chevrolet-powered Indy cars in the 2023 NTT INDYCAR Series.

The agreement spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.

“I’m super excited to get going with the team,” said Pedersen, a dual citizen (Danish and American) who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, raised in Seattle, Wash. and is currently living in Indianapolis. “I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to INDYCAR and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season. INDYCAR has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”

Foyt’s interest in the young rookie began early in the season when a trusted colleague suggested Pedersen to him. Pedersen and Foyt met, and Pedersen began shadowing the team early in the season.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100% committed to INDYCAR, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races. It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Pedersen moves to INDYCAR after two seasons in the Indy Lights Series where he claimed his first pole and victory at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway earlier this month. Having stood on the podium 11 times over the past two seasons, the young Dane spoke about the benefits of having participated in the top rung of the Road to Indy ladder series.

“The Indy Lights Series and car serves as the ultimate transition into INDYCAR,” he offered. “From a series perspective, Indy Lights goes to the INDYCAR events, so we share the same weekend format, points, rules, race director, etc. This makes the transition very natural to INDYCAR as all of these things will stay the same.

“From a car perspective, I can say firsthand that the Indy Lights car is a great car to transition from since it really rewards pushing to a high limit and almost over-driving a bit on the peak of the tire.”

Pedersen, who tested an Indy car for another team a couple months ago, noted the differences between the two formulas.

“When I had my debut Indy car test a few months ago, it was a very successful day topping the time charts and I found it very natural to transition into the Indy car,” said Pedersen, whose car will operate out of Foyt’s Speedway, Ind. shop. “The biggest differences were the brakes, dampers, tires, and aero. You have a much higher sensation of grip compared to the Indy Lights car and I actually felt the Indy car was a bit easier to drive in many regards. The carbon brakes are the biggest difference, and they allow you to brake so late and hard, and when combined with all the other things mentioned above, it’s nearly impossible to lock the brakes on the initial brake phase due to how much grip there is. It’s just a really enjoyable car to drive that really rewards attacking the brakes and also asking a lot of the tire laterally (side to side).”

The team will begin testing in January as they prepare for the 2023 season which will open on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, March 5th.

Race Report: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 11, 2022) — The final race of the season is in the record books as Alex Palou won the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey and Will Power won the NTT INDYCAR Series championship title.

Kyle Kirkwood loses his rookie stripes after finishing 21st in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet. Kirkwood started 17th and flirted around the top-15 but after being pushed wide by another competitor while exiting the pits after the final pit stop, he missed the pit out timing loop. He received a drive-through penalty as a result.

The No. 14 Sexton Properties crew executed great stops all day.

“So last race done here in Laguna Seca, not the race that we that we really wanted,” said Kirkwood.

“We were actually on for a pretty decent finish — it seemed like probably I think p 14 or p 15. And then I drove off going down the pit lane exit and then ultimately, we got a drive through [penalty] so that’s super unfortunate. We didn’t have the pace to do what Alex Palou and Power did on a similar strategy to me, so that wasn’t absolutely perfect. But overall, it’s been a huge learning curve for me throughout the season. We’ve had a ton of fun. The team’s learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot. So hopefully we can just take everything that we’ve done this season and even this race weekend and transfer it into something for next year even though I won’t be part of the team. The team will be able to do it and I’ll be able to do it as well.”

Starting 24th in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, Dalton Kellett jumped up to p22 on the start but then was hit by Jimmie Johnson in the Corkscrew a few laps later causing Kellett to spin. He was able to keep the engine running and rejoined the race but lost quite a bit of track position as a result.

“Not exactly how we wanted to wrap up the 2022 IndyCar season, a tough day out there for the No. 4 crew,” said Kellett, who finished 25th. “I got spun early after a good start where we made some good positions. But I don’t feel like we really had the pace to hang on to those gains on the reds, we just seemed to really struggle there. So, I was driving pretty defensively. And Jimmie got into the back of me, and when I looped around and then just lit the tires up trying to get it turned back the right way and just roasted the rear tires. That was like lap three or four. So for the remainder of that red stint, the rears were just gone. And that pretty much put us a lap down right away. And then there was kind of no recovering from that.

“We were okay on blacks,” Kellett continued. “I thought our pace was acceptable. But just on reds we really were lacking. And yeah, I think a big factor was just cooking the rears on that spin. In just lost track position which took us out of contention for any possible gain. So not how we wanted it to end but just I can thank AJ Foyt crew enough for this year. You know, it was up and down. We definitely had some great highlights and lots of stuff that we would have liked to have gone better and done better. Like from my side and the team side, just a little bit of a lack of consistency. I think overall we’re probably not satisfied with how things ended up this year. But definitely lots to learn and lots of information for everyone to digest and use to improve going forward.”

Team President Larry Foyt pointed out that the final race of the season was a microcosm of a less than stellar year for the team.

“This last race just sums up our year unfortunately,” Foyt said. “It wasn’t a great year for us and just had some bad luck in the race. The 14 car was moving up but a penalty on pit road ended up costing us a drive through penalty and it ended any progress we made. The team did a great job, pit stops were great, and the driver drove hard but it just sums up our year. We’re already looking to the winter, all the improvements, and moving on from there. Also looks like the 4 car had some trouble early, he got turned around and unfortunately this is a hard place to pass. I know he drove hard to try to get up there but it’s just hard when you lose that much track position. The guys did a good job. The team’s committed to the future and making it better over the winter and that’s what we’re going to work on. And it starts right now.”

Palou led 67 laps to win his first race of the season and fourth of his INDYCAR career. Josef Newgarden finished second after starting last; he also finished second in the final standings. Power finished third after starting from his record-setting 68th pole position. Rounding out the top five were Felix Rosenqvist and rookie Christian Lundgaard.

Qualifying Report: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 10) — Kyle Kirkwood will start 17th and Dalton Kellett will line up 24th on the grid for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

It appeared Kirkwood might catch a lucky break in his session as his No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet was sitting atop his group when the red flag came out for Josef Newgarden’s spin in the Corkscrew. However, the AMR safety crew was able to successfully remove Newgarden before the session ended allowing everyone to get in a single solid timed lap. Kirkwood was quicker on his second run but not quick enough to transfer into Round 2.

“We were one of the few to do red-red (Firestone alternate tires) and it almost paid off for us,” explained Kirkwood. “We were in the lead for the first half of qualifying and with the red flag coming out we almost got super lucky there, but ultimately we qualified P9 in our group. So not exactly where we wanted to be but I think we found some pace between practice 1, practice 2 and qualifying so we’re constantly progressing. We’ll go into the final practice tomorrow morning hopefully with a good race car. The big thing here is making the tires last, so if we can do that – we’ve got a lot of people starting around us that should be up front as well – hopefully we can just move forward from there.”

Kirkwood testing Firestone’s alternative compound tires in practice.

Kellett was hampered by having to do a drive-through midway through the session due to exceeding the pit lane speed limit during qualifying. However, he noted that the team made gains from where they started the weekend with the No. 4 K-Line Insulators Chevrolet.

“Not quite where we wanted to end up but overall, I think we had decent pace at the end of practice on

new blacks and we banked on going red – reds, but then with everybody kind of checking up the first time, we didn’t really get a clean run initially,” Kellett said. “Then on the second stint, got out and with it just being so tight coming into pit lane because we’re in the first box, so it’s kind of a like hand-over-hand awkward getting in there. Just missed getting on the pit lane speed limiter, which was fine coming in because we’re so slow for that first box, but when I left for my second run, it wasn’t latched on. So, I accelerated over the pit lane speed, and that’s how we got a penalty there. So that’s just the flow of getting in there and just got to make sure I get on that button before turning for that tight pit in. So having to do that half a lap and a bit and then drive through was just not good for the edge of the tires. But I think from where we were last year and started the weekend, we’ve tightened the gap on new tires. We’ll have to see tomorrow how we progress over the length of the long run. That’s the key here — keeping the tires under you and trying to make the average stint pace as fast as possible. It’s tough because the surface is so abrasive. So, we’ll see what we have for warm up and kind of go from there for the race.”

Kellett navigates the Corkscrew during practice.

Will Power won the pole to become the all-time leader in pole positions with 68. He also lengthened his points lead over closest rival and teammate Josef Newgarden who will start last after having his two quickest laps removed due to bringing out the red flag in his session. Power became the all-time leader in pole positionsRookie Callum Ilott will start outside pole. Rounding out the Firestone Fast 6 are: Alexander Rossi, Romain Grosjean, Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward.

After tomorrow morning’s 30-minute warmup, NBC will start its pre-race coverage at 2:40 p.m. ET with the green flag set to drop at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Notes & Quotes: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Dalton Kellett wraps up his third season with AJ Foyt Racing while Kyle Kirkwood completes his rookie season this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Following their reflection on the 2022 season, we asked them a few questions …

DALTON KELLETT – No. 4 K-LINE INSULATORS USA CHEVROLET

On Laguna Seca: “It’s hard to believe the end of the season is already here, time flies! It feels like we just wrapped up the Month of May. Laguna Seca is probably the best place for a season finale. I think the track embodies everything a permanent road course should be: great flow, technical, mix of high and low speed corners, and unique aspects. The unique things about this track are the low grip and the massive elevation changes. Part of the low track grip is sand from the runoffs blowing onto the surface. The other factor is the age of the track surface; it hasn’t been repaved in a long time so it’s very polished. Because of this, tire degradation is really high at Laguna Seca. Managing the grip and wear of the tires over the stint is the key to good average pace over the long run. That was something we didn’t do well last year, so planning on learning from that mistake. We’ve got one more race in this season and everyone on the No. 4 K-Line team will be pushing hard for a strong finish!”

Kellett navigates the infamous “Corkscrew” complex of turns at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last year.

Former Indy car driver Ryan Briscoe was your driver coach this season. How does he help you over the course of a race weekend?

DK: “Having Ryan onboard has been a great help; I’ve really appreciated and benefited from the input

and experience he brings to the table. During the weekend, the overall goal is for him to look at data/video/spotting on-track and then recommend changes and provide guidance on technique. So, we will look at the onboard video, data overlays, and Dartfish compares (a video software program that teams use to compare drivers) after sessions and he will give me feedback on my driving and help me work out what key areas I need to focus on to go faster. He also spots during the race, which can be invaluable when there’s lots of action going on around you. I think having someone with driving experience is really helpful in that role, they know what info you are looking for. With Ryan’s IndyCar experience, he’s also a great resource for some input on setup changes and direction.”

What (or where) do you see the biggest improvements you’ve made this season?

DK: “Qualifying was a big focus going into the year and I think that’s somewhere I’ve made some good improvements. Street circuits especially seem to have gone well for us this year. I attribute that to focusing a bit more on extracting the most out of the fresh Reds while also being more disciplined to not overdrive. I think the overall pace has been much closer to where it needs to be in races and that’s been a good gain from 2021 and definitely from 2020.”

What do you take the most pride in this year?

DK: “Given that the race results haven’t, in general, been where we would have liked, I would say my most ‘proud’ moment of the year was the combined effort between the IndyCar fanbase, myself, K-Line, and AJ Foyt Racing to raise and donate funds to support the Uvalde (Texas) families. I think that moment transcends what we’re trying to do on-track and stands out too because we all came together to help people in need.”

If you had a magical “do-over” for one race this year, what/where would it be?

DK: “I think we lost some wind from our sails, after a strong start at St. Pete, with the DNF at Long Beach. That one was on me and I think finishing that weekend well would have had a good effect on our early-season trajectory.”

Your TikTok videos have been well-received. How did you decide to do them?

DK: “The TikTok channel has had a great reception, certainly more than I expected. Thanks to all the fans who have been part of that. My initial idea was a weekly Monday video (creatively dubbed “Indy Mondays”) where I would highlight some interesting part of the car or IndyCar racing. The reception to those videos was strong and the tech series spun out of that. I then adjusted, to focus on a few things: 1) race car science and theory 2) interesting technical highlights 3) onboard video / race breakdowns. I wish I had more time to post regularly, it’s a good platform once you find a niche.”

You’ve used your platform to speak out on issues you care about. Why have you taken that risk when most (if not all) of your fellow competitors have not?

DK: “I decided to take that risk because I felt that the personal impact of not speaking out (i.e. how I would feel about myself, in retrospect, if I didn’t use my platform for something I believed in) outweighed the objective risk. But, I also felt the risk was quite low: I decided to engage with these topics in what I feel was a respectful and rational way and, frankly, I don’t need or want to be associated with people or groups who would object to that kind of rational and respectful debate. I also felt that portraying myself honestly to the fans, even if some may disagree with a stance on a particular issue, was a better service to the IndyCar community than trying to be someone I’m not.”

This past week, you did a road trip from Portland to Monterey with your fiancée Nicole Westra—what did you discover along the way?

DK: “We had a great trip from Portland to Laguna! We split the drive over a couple nights, stopping in Redding and Calistoga. On the first day, we stopped by the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood for a few photos and then drove down to Crater Lake. Both are amazing sights and really worth the trip, the water in Crater Lake is such a mesmerizing blue. The next day we spent in wine country, we went to a couple vineyards and had a nice dinner. Nicole and I got engaged in Napa last September, so it’s a place that is very special to us. Both the wineries we visited had animals on-site, the first had horse stables and the second had a pet pig walking around, that was a highlight. On Wednesday, we drove down the coast along Highway 1 on the way to Laguna Seca. Always a great drive!”

Dalton and his fiancée Nicole Westra enjoyed their road trip from Portland to Monterey this week.

Kellett Fast Facts: Age 29…Born in Toronto, Canada and lives in Indianapolis…Became engaged to Nicole Westra and they plan to wed on New Year’s Eve…Graduated from Queens University with a degree in Engineering Physics in 2015…Brand spokesman for Ten80 Education’s National STEM League…Enjoys rock climbing, backcountry skiing, camping, playing guitar, cooking and golf. For the technically curious, Kellett posts TikTok videos (@dalton_kellett) about the race car labeled “Indy Mondays” with subjects ranging from the steering wheel to the weight jacker to cold tires.

KYLE KIRKWOOD – No. 14 SEXTON PROPERTIES CHEVROLET

On Laguna Seca: “Although I don’t necessarily rank Laguna near the top of my list of favorite tracks, it was actually the track I performed by far the best at last year and the only track I perfectly swept. Laguna has tons of character and is definitely a very flowy track, which I tend to be best at tracks with a rhythm type of flow. Although it’s a very fun track to drive, it doesn’t promote much passing at all under similar conditions between competitors. So, that means qualifying, strategy and pit stops are going to be the primary factors at this event.”

Rookie years are all about learning, what did you learn this season?

KK: “I think I could write a novel on what I learned, there is so much. The most crucial thing I learned was strategies. It’s something that’s all new to me coming from sprint (length) racing.”

Kirkwood had his best street course finish at Long Beach where he finished 10th.

What surprised you the most about (a) driving an Indy car over the course of a race weekend and (b) competing at this level?

KK: “Quite honestly nothing surprised me too much, never was I caught off guard from lack of experience. If anything, I was surprised how similar it is to all other forms of motorsports.”

What were some of the most challenging aspects you faced this year?

KK: “The most challenging aspect of this year was trying to develop the car with little to no experience with the Indy car on certain tracks. I had basically no reference on what a car should feel like on some of these tracks, I just go off of what I’ve known is right. There were plenty of times throughout the season that we were on the back foot due to this and with teams, tracks and drivers ever evolving, it’s really hard to keep up.”

If you could have a magical “do-over” at one race, what would it be?

KK: “I think the expected answer is Nashville but for me that was a great weekend and we were caught out from some other’s mistake. For me it is the Indy 500. I thought we were on for a top-10 finish there and we lost too much in the final stop. With what I know now, I think we would go back and have a much better race as a whole.”

What do you take the most satisfaction from looking back over the season?

KK: “Long Beach was great, it was a bounce back from our incident at Texas and really set the tone for the rest of the year.”

Kirkwood shares a laugh with Jeremy Levenson, team comedian.

You have a very positive attitude which is great in such a demanding sport—is it

something you were born with or did you develop it as a mental tool?

KK: “I’m not sure, I’ve always found things work out better if you’re positive about it. Whether it’s the team or yourself, being negative always hurts and at the end of the day we are racing INDYCAR for our livings, what’s cooler than that?”

What advice would you give to drivers in junior formulas who want to compete at this level?

KK: “No matter what category you’re racing in, it’s relevant. If I had the chance to go back to the start of my car career, I would take notes of absolutely everything because there is stuff that I remember from certain tracks in the start of my career that I bring to INDYCAR. If I wrote every detail down, it would make my life a lot easier to this day and would also create value. Never overlook what you’re doing in any category from Karting to INDYCAR because there’s always massive similarities.”

Kirkwood took the Indy Lights points lead at Laguna Seca last year for Andretti Autosport which is where he heads for 2023.

Kirkwood Fast Facts: Age 23…Born in West Palm Beach and lives in Jupiter, Florida… Only driver to win championships in all three divisions of the Road to Indy ladder system…Began racing karts at age 5…Won the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 title (12 wins in 14 races) and won 15 of 17 races to claim the F3 Americas Championship…Won the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with nine victories and five poles in 16 races (RP Motorsports)…Won the 2021 Indy Lights championship with 10 victories and seven poles in 20 races (the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic). Enjoys surfing, deep-sea fishing, diving and golf.

Past Performance: Last year at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Kellett competed for the first time in an Indy car; he started 27th and finished 23rd. Kirkwood competed there in Indy Lights winning both the pole and the race last year. AJ Foyt Racing’s best finish was eighth with Mike Groff who also posted the team’s best start of 11th (both in 1992).

Last Race: At the Grand Prix of Portland, Kirkwood started 13th and finished 13th for his second-best finish on a permanent road course. Kellett started 25th and finished 22nd.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be broadcast live Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. Qualifying will be streamed on Peacock Premium Saturday at 5:05 p.m. ET. Practices will also be streamed on Peacock Premium: Friday (5:30 pm ET), Saturday (1:15 p.m. ET) and Sunday (12 noon ET).

Race Report: Grand Prix of Portland

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing – Kyle Kirkwood in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet

PORTLAND (Sept. 4, 2022) — After 110 laps, Kyle Kirkwood finished where he started in the Grand Prix of Portland bringing the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet home in 13th position. Dalton Kellett finished 22nd in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet after starting 25th.

Starting on the primary tires, Kirkwood dropped back to 15th at the start with rowmate Calum Ilott (on alternate compound tires) getting past. Kirkwood then got sandwiched between Scott Dixon and Romain Grosjean. Kirkwood held his own with Grosjean who went off track but the six-time IndyCar champ slid past the rookie.

Kirkwood moved into 13th after the first round of pit stops and ran there for most of the race. He had a brief foray into 12th when Rinus Veekay (running ninth) was penalized for avoidable contact with Jimmie Johnson which brought out the race’s only caution on lap 84. However, with 12 laps to go, Kirkwood was passed by Marcus Ericsson. By that point Kirkwood had used up his allotment of push-to-pass (p2p) horsepower boost (200 seconds) and could not counter the attack by this year’s Indy 500 winner. However, he was able to fend off fellow rookie David Malukas, who had more p2p than Kirkwood but couldn’t get by.

“Race is done and we made all 110 laps,” said Kirkwood. “Definitely on the right strategy and probably just missing a little bit of pace, ultimately we finished where we started, strategy got us forward, pace brought us back a little bit so we ended up equal with where we started. Super happy with that because we brought the car home and got some good points there ahead of the people that we need to be ahead of. Can’t be any more satisfied than that and we’ll go into Laguna next week with heads high and hopefully finish off the season strong.”

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing – Dalton Kellett in the K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet

Kellett had another tough weekend as they struggled to find pace around the 1.9-mile, 12-turn road course. Kellett also started on the primary compound tires and then used the alternate compound tires on his final three stints. Despite solid stops by his K-Line Insulators crew, he wasn’t able to make much headway due to his lack of pace.

“A bit of a tough weekend overall for us,” said the 29-year-old Torontonian who lives in Indianapolis. “Never seemed like we quite found the pace for K-Line car from the start of the weekend to the to the race. It felt like we were dealing with a bit of understeer that we couldn’t quite get rid of. Then during the race tried to make some adjustments around the stops and with the tools in the car to deal with that but it persisted throughout. So, we feel like we probably needed another three or four tenths to be more in the mix of where we wanted to end up. But good clean race. Came home without any issues and now looking forward to wrapping the season up at Laguna Seca next weekend.”

Pole winner Scott McLaughlin dominated the competition leading 104 of the 110 laps, relinquishing it only during his pit stops. Team Penske teammate Will Power finished second and increased his NTT INDYCAR Series points lead to 20 points over rivals Scott Dixon who finished third and teammate Josef Newgarden who finished eighth. Rounding out the top five were Pato O’Ward and Graham Rahal.

The INDYCAR season finale at Laguna Seca Raceway will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed on Peacock Premium next Sunday afternoon, Sept. 11th, starting at 3 p.m. ET. The INDYCAR Radio Network will also cover the lap-by-lap action.

Qualifying Report: Grand Prix of Portland

PORTLAND (Sept. 3, 2022)–On permanent road courses, Kyle Kirkwood posted his second best qualifying effort of the season in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet at Portland International Raceway this afternoon.

Kirkwood will start 13th, having barely missed advancing out of the first round of qualifying for the Grand Prix of Portland with his time of 58.4865 seconds (120.889mph) around the 1.96-mile course. He was just off less than eight hundredths of a second from advancing.

“So close to getting into the Fast 12!” Kirkwood commented afterwards, adding, “Seven hundredths of a second between me and Graham (Rahal) and Colton (Herta) barely bumped us out there at the end. Overall, we’ve been solid all weekend long. We were fortunate enough to have a test last week and I think some of the pace that we found there has transferred to this weekend and we’re quite happy with the car. I think we’re actually better in warmer conditions but it was cold this morning and through qualifying, which I think actually hurts us. As it gets warmer this afternoon and then warmer tomorrow for the race, I think we’ll actually get quite a bit better than what we were showing this morning.”

Dalton Kellett posted a time of 59.0082 seconds (119.821mph) and will start 25th in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.

“We definitely tightened the gap up from where we were in practice this morning to the field,” said the Canadian. “We found some good time in qualifying but it wasn’t really enough. We’ll have our work cut out for us in the race. We’ve been making steady improvements through the weekend so we’re going to carry that into the warmup this afternoon and into the race tomorrow.”

Scott McLaughlin won the NTT P1 award with his time of 58.2349 seconds (121.412mph); it was his third career INDYCAR pole. Josef Newgarden qualified second but he was dropped six positions for an unscheduled engine change (after the last race). He will start eighth which will move his teammate and current NTT INDYCAR Series point leader Will Power to the front row alongside his other teammate. Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six were rookie Christian Lundgaard, Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward.

NBC will broadcast the 110-lap Grand Prix of Portland tomorrow starting at 3 p.m. ET and the race will also be streamed live on Peacock Premium. INDYCAR Radio Network will also cover the race live.

Notes & Quotes: Grand Prix of Portland

SHAWN FORD has worn more uniforms in one season than he did in the last three years. He joined AJ Foyt Racing this season as crew chief of the No. 11 Chevrolet driven by Tatiana Calderon and J.R. Hildebrand. He became the crew chief of the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet driven by Dalton Kellett in July. We asked him a few questions…

How did you become interested in motorsports?

SF: “My Dad was a car guy and we spent a lot of time as a family at the racetrack (Spokane, Wenatchee and Ephrata, mainly).”

Where were you born?

SF: “Helena, Montana”

Ever watch the TV show Yellowstone?

SF: ” Yellowstone is one of my favorite shows, it’s filmed about 100 miles from Helena!”

When is the first time you attended an INDYCAR event?

SF: “The first Indycar event I attended was Qualifying for the Indy 500. I was there to watch my brother’s team Team Green at that time.”

Shawn Ford with his brother Nick at the Indy 500.

Who is your brother?

SF: “My brother is Nick Ford and he was working with Team Green when Paul Tracy was driving the year of the controversial finish at Indy with him and Helio Castroneves. Nick started out doing some NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) stuff for the first few years. He mainly worked for Andretti for 10 years and Ganassi for around 10 years as well. He worked on Tony (TK) Kanaan’s car at Andretti for I think eight years and also worked on his car at Ganassi for a year or two there. So, he worked on Tony’s car for 10 years or so. We both had a chance to win a championship on the same day in 2003. We were both racing in Dallas, Texas that weekend. I did it with Larry Dixon and he finished 2nd with T.K. We did however win championships in the same year in 2011. I won with Del Worsham (NHRA Top Fuel) and Nick won with Dario Franchitti (INDYCAR), so that was our banner year! We also both had a chance to win the INDYCAR championship at the last race of the year in Sonoma in 2015. Myself with Graham Rahal and Nick with Scott Dixon. Scott Dixon was the champion that year. It was special to compete against my brother for a championship. Nick is no longer in racing; he is now the production manager at the California Closets factory here in Indianapolis.”

What does your resume look like?

SF:NHRA Short Block Specialist for Don Prudhomme Racing (2000-2006), won championship with Larry Dixon as driver in 2002 and 2003, and for Al-Anabi / Alan Johnson Racing (2011-2014) won championship with Del Worsham in 2011. Shawn Langdon 2013 (short block specialist)

INDYCAR Front End Technician for Andretti Green Racing (2007-2009). Was on the crew when Danica won her race in Japan. In 2010, worked for DeFerran Dragon Racing. Worked for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2015 – 2018) and won five races with Graham Rahal including a Detroit doubleheader sweep.

IMSA – Car Chief for Wayne Taylor Racing (2019 – 2021), No. 25 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Series with driver Ashton Harrison; also assisted with the No. 10 DPI car.”

Left to Right: Shawn Ford with IMSA driver Ashton Harrison, celebrating with Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon, shaking hands with Graham Rahal in Victory Circle.

What is your favorite race track and why?

SF: “My favorite race track is Road America. It is unique and a nice change compared to a lot of the tracks we run on. I like the location and the cool and calm vibe the place has. To me, Road America is as American as apple pie.”

Ford awaits crew to finish during pitstop at Road America before releasing Tatiana Calderón.

What is your highest achievement in racing?

SF: “I would say my highest achievement in racing was crew chiefing a car that finished 12th at the Indy 500 this year. It’s not often one gets to do something they dreamed of as a kid and I feel very fortunate AJ Foyt Racing gave me that opportunity.”

Ford (left) looks over the No. 11 Homes For Our Troops Chevrolet prior to J.R. Hildebrand driving to a 12th place finish in the Indianapolis 500. Crew members D.J. Ellsworth and Zach Smith (L to R) await direction.

Did you ever race cars yourself?

SF: “I never really drove anything other than my own car I used to take to the dragstrip.”

What is the most challenging part of your job now?

SF: “The most challenging part of my job has been learning how to deal with the guys. Everyone is different and everyone deals with adversity in different ways. Twenty years in this business should give a guy a degree in psychology.”

What gives you the most satisfaction in your job?

SF: “What I think is special about the racing industry is the camaraderie we all have. Everyone pulls toward the same goal. It doesn’t matter what race, age, religion, political view or whether you’re a man or woman. When the car comes in for a pit stop, none of that matters, you just get it done. Everyone looks out for one another. I wish the real world was more that way!”

What hobbies or interests do you have?

SF: “My hobbies include working on my hot rod projects. I also enjoy traveling with my family when I get the chance. Sitting in my hot tub and doing nothing after one of Chris McFadden’s (trainer for AJ Foyt Racing) workouts is fun too!”

Shawn with wife Brenda and their son Landon. The couple married in 2012 and make their home in Brownsburg, Ind.

What are the top three things on your Bucket List?

SF: (1) Finish restoring my 1964 Ford Falcon before I die; (2) Doing the Hot Rod Power Tour in the Falcon once it’s done! (3) Take the family on a trip to Iceland. Nature is cool!”

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

SF: “I remember the best advice I’ve ever gotten. A guy named Wille Wolter told me when I was young and just starting out in this industry to “just care about what you do.” That has stuck with me and I think about those words he said to me 20 some years ago often.”

DALTON KELLETT will be making his second INDYCAR start at Portland. Last year his race was cut short due to a fuel injection issue which was particularly disappointing because he was running 12th at the time.

“It’s crazy to think that the end of season is almost here! I’m looking forward to finishing off with a couple west coast races. The layout at Portland International Raceway is exciting and challenging. We tested here last week, pretty much everyone made a trip through the gravel. The track was very fast, compared to qualifying last year, so everyone was pushing hard. We ran through some important setup work and we tried some stuff that was good and a few configurations that weren’t the right direction, so I think we have some good information leading into the race weekend. Barring chaos in the festival curves, it can be a tough track to pass at so qualifying will be important to a good race!”

Kellett Fast Facts: Age 29 (as of Aug 19)…Born in Toronto, Canada and lives in Indianapolis…Became engaged to Nicole Westra and they plan to wed on New Year’s Eve…Graduated from Queens University with a degree in Engineering Physics in 2015…Brand spokesman for Ten80 Education’s National STEM League…Enjoys rock climbing, backcountry skiing, camping, playing guitar, cooking and golf. For the technically curious, Kellett posts TikTok videos (@dalton_kellett) about the race car labeled “Indy Mondays” with subjects ranging from the steering wheel to the weight jacker to cold tires.

KYLE KIRKWOOD will be making his first INDYCAR start at the 12-turn, 1.964-mile track. He has raced and won at the track in USF2000 and Indy Lights.

“Portland has been especially really good to me. It’s the track where I won the USF2000 championship, and in my eyes, the track that won my Indy Lights championship. We were fortunate enough to be able to test there this past week in preparation for the Grand Prix. That has definitely given us a head start on the weekend and hopefully what we learned there will translate into a good performance.”

Kirkwood Fast Facts: Age 23…Born in West Palm Beach, and lives in Jupiter, Florida… Only driver to win championships in all three divisions of the Road to Indy ladder system…Began racing karts at age 5…Won the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 title (12 wins in 14 races) and won 15 of 17 races to claim the F3 Americas Championship…Won the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with nine victories and five poles in 16 races (RP Motorsports)…Won the 2021 Indy Lights championship with 10 victories and seven poles in 20 races (the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic). Enjoys surfing, deep-sea fishing, diving and golf.

Past Performance at Portland: Dalton Kellett started 24th but dropped out with mechanical woes just before the halfway point, he placed 26th. Kyle Kirkwood’s best start in the Indy Lights Series last year was fourth and he won that race after finishing second in the first race of the doubleheader. AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is 10th and best finish is eighth (1993 with driver Robby Gordon). Matheus Leist also finished eighth in 2019.

Last Race: At World Wide Technology Raceway, Kellett started 24th and finished 18th, his second-best result of the season (best finish is 17th). Kirkwood started 20th and finished 17th, tying his third best finish of the season (best ones were 10th and 15th).

Broadcast/Streaming Information: The Grand Prix of Portland will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed on Peacock Premium on Sunday, Sept. 4, starting at 3 p.m. ET. Qualifying (Saturday, 3:05 – 4:20 p.m. ET) will be streamed live on Peacock Premium as will all practices: Friday – 5:30 p.m., Saturday – 12 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. (all times Eastern).

Race Report: Bommarito Automotive Group 500

MADISON, Ill. (August 20, 2022) — The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway is meant to be run under the lights, and with a little help from Mother Nature’s rain delay, it was — despite the early 5 p.m. CT start this year.

The first 217 laps of the 260-lap race were run in daylight. However, a brief rainstorm caused the race to be red-flagged at 6:55 p.m. Restarted two hours and 10 minutes later, the lights were on giving the final 43 laps the dramatic look the track is known for.

The crew performs the final stop of the night–fresh tires and fuel for the final 40-plus laps of the race.

Both Kyle Kirkwood in the No. 14 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet and Dalton Kellett in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, who started 20th and 24th respectively, had relatively quiet races. With the first 144 laps run under green, there was little or no passing happening anywhere on the track, the drivers ran where they started. A 12-lap caution on lap 145 for Jack Harvey’s grazing the wall set up a highly charged restart but everyone made it through intact.

With temperatures dropping after the rain delay, the action on the track picked up as cars were able to utilize the high groove setting up several rounds of dramatic passing especially among the leaders.

Kirkwood did have a dramatic moment where there was an equipment miscue on a pit stop and he left the pits ablaze. Fortunately, the flames extinguished themselves when he got up to speed on the track.

“Alright, so finished p 17,” said Kirkwood. “The positive take is we went from 20 to 17. So we gained positions, we didn’t lose positions today. But we just didn’t really have the ultimate pace that some of the guys did, especially when it got dark. Those were conditions that we hadn’t run in yet. And it definitely caught us out for those last 43 laps. But I mean, another learning curve to definitely put under our belt. We were pretty solid in the beginning, but we couldn’t do anything with our pace just due to traffic. We missed it on strategy a couple of times too and it put us a lap down which was unfortunate but nonetheless we kept the car clean. So we’ll go on to Portland with a clear head.”

The storm clouds are brewing for the eventual rain that caused a two-hour stoppage of the race.

Kellett’s strategy was negated by the two-hour rain stop, thwarting his gaining another five spots had the race continued under green uninterrupted. However, he ran a heads-up race and posted his second highest finish of the season with his 18th place result.

“We started 24th and finished 18th, so I’m happy we were able to make up some spots in the race,” Kellett said. “That’s always the goal when you don’t have a good qualifying session. The situation was looking really good for us before the rain came. We wouldn’t have had to pit before the end, there were probably four or five cars that we might have jumped if it had gone green to the finish. Mother Nature doesn’t always play in your favor, but we got the race back underway for the fans under the lights, which is what matters. I’m happy we moved up but we would have liked to have been a little further up the grid when all was said and done.”

Josef Newgarden won his third straight race at this track and fifth of the season. Rookie David Malukas turned in a career-best finish as the runner-up after hustling from fifth in the final 30 laps. Rounding out the top five were: Scott McLaughlin, Pato O’Ward and Takuma Sato.

The team will head to Portland, Ore. this week to test before the Labor Day weekend race in the Rose City which will be broadcast on NBC on Sunday, Sept. 4 starting at 3 p.m. ET.

Qualifying Report: Bommarito Automotive Group 500

MADISON, Ill. (August 19, 2022) — With past race results showing World Wide Technology Raceway to be one of the better race tracks for AJ Foyt Racing, the drivers are optimistic about their chances in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.

At WWT Raceway, the team has five top-10 finishes, three of which were in the top-five, including a fifth place last year with Sebastien Bourdais and a third place in 2019 with Tony Kanaan.

With drivers going out to qualify in the reverse order of their NTT INDYCAR Series points position, those further back in the standings are hampered by less than ideal track conditions which are usually hotter giving the track less grip. Such was the case today at the 1.25-mile oval track.

Kyle Kirkwood, who was third out to qualify, will start 20th in the No. 14 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet after posting a two-lap average speed of 178.079mph.

Kirkwood talks with his race engineer Mike Colliver.

“Decent qualifying,” Kirkwood said following his run. “We showed up today after our test last week with pretty different track conditions {from when they tested}. We don’t feel like we’re as strong as what we were at the test. But in general, I think we had a solid qualifying I think that should put us mid pack or thereabouts. There’s definitely more in it, but we’re just still working with the car to get it in its happy place like it was at the test last week, which has definitely taken some tuning. Unfortunately, on weekends like this, you don’t get a bunch of tires to really figure it all out and enough time and enough clean track to nail everything down. It takes a couple sessions to really pinpoint exactly what you need. So we’re still working with it, but I think we have a very good heading coming into tomorrow’s race. Historically, the Number 14 car has been better in race conditions than it has in qualifying so we have that going for us.”

Dalton Kellett, who will start 24th in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet after posting an average speed of 173.902mph, was disappointed in his run.

Kellett answers questions from the media following his run.

““Not exactly the qualifying that we were looking for today,” said Kellett, who turned 29 today. “This is a tough track to pass so I was hoping we were a little further up the grid. It seems we had a bit more understeer than expected going into the end of the run. Last year, this was where we scored our best finish. Overall, we feel like the race platform that we have is better than where we were at the end of last year and at the start of the test a couple weeks ago. So optimistic for the race and just have to be smart on track and in pit lane, make some moves and move up from where we’re starting.”

Points leader Will Power was the last man out to qualify and he claimed the NTT P1 award with his “nothing left on the table” run and an average speed of 182.727mph. Scoring his 67th pole, Power tied Mario Andretti who held the record for poles won.

Marcus Ericsson will start outside pole with a speed average of 182.070mph. Power’s teammates Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin sit in row two while Ericsson’s teammates Alex Palou and Scott Dixon make up row three.

The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will be broadcast on the USA Network tomorrow afternoon starting at 6p.m. ET. The race will also be streamed on Peacock Premium and broadcast on the INDYCAR Radio Network.

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