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Race Report: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2021)—The NTT INDYCAR Series wrapped up its season under overcast skies but A.J. and his team were beaming as everyone had reasons to smile. And it wasn’t just because their very tough season had ended.

“Today was a pretty good day,” said A.J. Foyt, who made his first trip to California in several years. “I was hoping we would have run a little better but, you’ve got to take what you can get. The drivers and crews all did a good job. This track you’ve got to be real careful because you can get parked real easy.”

Bourdais and Foyt share a laugh after the race.

When the race started, it appeared that Sebastien Bourdais, who started 22nd, was going to be a victim of an aggressive youngster yet again! A bottleneck that occurred in the hairpin at the end of lap 1 due to Pato O’Ward being tagged by Ed Jones, saw Rinus Veekay run into Bourdais’s gearbox bouncing him in the air but luckily not into a barrier. The car stalled and when the car was restarted by the AMR Safety team, Bourdais was 28th — aka last.

This pit stop on lap 18 was the game changer for the No. 14 ROKiT team.

A timely strategy call to pit on lap 18 proved key as it came just before the caution came out on lap 20 for Pato O’Ward’s car which had stopped on the frontstretch. With solid pit stops, savvy driving and saving fuel to make the race with just one more stop, Bourdais worked his way into eighth to notch another top-10 finish!

Seb poses with his parents, Jocelyn and Patrick, who were visiting from LeMans, France.

“A pretty good day for the ROKiT Chevrolet No. 14 here with A.J. Foyt Racing,” a satisfied Bourdais commented on video afterwards. “From 22nd, (and then) essentially last, to P-8 with really good strategy from the boys. I had a pretty quick car, which I knew we were not that bad, but I didn’t think we’d be that quick during the race. Not quite sure what the future is going to be made of but if it was to be the last one, not too shabby for the last one, and I really hope to see you guys next year.”

Charlie Kimball showed he didn’t lose his form in the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet despite a nearly four-month hiatus. Starting 20th, and employing a different fuel strategy from Bourdais, Kimball had run as high as seventh before pitting on lap 27 during the third caution (this time for Marcus Ericsson who was battling with Alexander Rossi and ended up in a tire barrier). The yellows didn’t work to Kimball’s advantage but he was on pace to post a solid 14th place finish until Graham Rahal drilled him in the final corner—the hairpin leading onto the homestretch. Kimball recovered to finish 18th.

Charlie Kimball stands with his dad Gordon, a former engineer in IndyCar and Formula 1.

“Well, it sure was a fun day in the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet!” Kimball exclaimed. “The guys at AJ Foyt Racing did a great job, the car ran flawlessly. We had a great race going, a few strategy calls, things were looking good but then a couple yellows helped the guys ahead of us. And then the last lap I got run into by someone not paying attention. But at the end of the day, it was a great day of racing and I can’t thank AJ Foyt Racing [enough], or Novo Nordisk for the years of support! What a way to finish the season here at Long Beach and crown a champion.”

Dalton Kellett drove one of his best races of the year at a track he’d never seen before this weekend. Starting 26th, he had moved up to 16th by lap 65 and was running just behind Kimball at that point. With less than 15 laps to go, Kellett had run out of push-to-pass seconds (the extra boost in horsepower which was limited to 200 total seconds) to defend against Graham Rahal, Max Chilton, and with just four laps to go, Jimmy Johnson. Helio Castroneves passed him too but the Brazilian was a lap down. Kellett slipped to 19th.

Dalton Kellett with his fiancee Nicole Westra prior to the race. Her parents, Barb and Cory are far right.

“Last race of the year, the 2021 INDYCAR season is wrapped up,” the 28-year-old Canadian said. “Happy to end it on a pretty good note for the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA team. We brought that Team Chevy home P19 I believe with a drag race to the finish with teammate Charlie Kimball, so that was exciting. Took that restart 16th, moved up from 26th so that was some good moves, but was a little over-zealous on the push-to-pass in the middle of the race, so with about 12 to go, I had no push-to-pass. I was having to defend pretty aggressively from Helio and Jimmy so lost a few spots there, but move on and learn as far as managing that. But happy with how we’re wrapping it up. Kind of an up and down year, but we’ve had some high spots and I think this was a good way to end the year.”

Team President Larry Foyt looked back on the race and the season and said, “When Seb got hit on the first lap, it felt like more of the bad racing luck that has hovered over us all season. But what I love about this group is that we don’t give up, so for the ROKiT Chevrolet to come from last to a solid top-10 feels great to end the season. Dalton drove hard and did well for never having been to Long Beach, and I thought Charlie did amazing for being out of the car for a while and should have been top-15 if not for others’ mistakes. All in all, this was not the year that we were hoping for, but we never gave up and the team made gains. We aren’t exactly sure what our lineup will be at this point, but we will be back and focused on getting stronger and moving up further in the championship standings.”

Colton Herta dominated the race, leading 43 of the 85 laps to win his second straight race of the season, bringing his total to three victories this year. Pole winner Josef Newgarden gave chase but finished second in the race which was enough to vault him past O‘Ward in the 2021 standings and become vice-champion.

Rounding out the top five were Scott Dixon, Alex Palou, who clinched his first ever NTT INDYCAR Series title, and Simon Pagenaud.

In just his second INDYCAR season, Palou, 24, is the youngest driver to win the title since his teammate Scott Dixon won it in 2003. Trailing Palou and Newgarden in the final standings were O’Ward, Dixon and Herta. Bourdais wound up 16th and Kellett was 23rd.

The 2022 NTT IndyCar Series kicks off in St. Petersburg on Sunday, February 27th.

Qualifying Report: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Sept. 25, 2021) – Qualifying for the final race of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series is in the books. AJ Foyt Racing fielded three cars for this event, welcoming back Charlie Kimball in the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet.

Kimball, who hadn’t been in a car since May, or on a street course since a year ago in St. Petersburg where he registered his 2020 season best finish of eighth, qualified the fastest of the Foyt contingent and will start 20th. He posted a time of 1 minute, 9.67 seconds around the 1.968 mile street course.

Charlie Kimball appears ready to get back into action. (INDYCAR Photo)

“Well, I don’t know about the qualifying result but I’m still grinning from being back in and Indy car,” Kimball said afterwards. “It’s been so much fun this weekend. First and foremost, most of the credit goes to the AJ Foyt Racing crew. The No. 11 crew guys have made sure the car ran flawlessly both practices through qualifying. Qualifying we missed it a little bit on the grip and the result wasn’t great, it wasn’t what we wanted as a team, but we know there’s some left on the table for the race tomorrow.”

Starting 22nd will be three-time Long Beach Grand Prix winner Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet. Bourdais rubbed a barrier in the morning practice which bent a rear lower wishbone. The team couldn’t repair it before the session ended (less than 10 minutes left). He didn’t get to run the alternate compound (red) Firestone tires before qualifying which would have been useful. In qualifying, the brakes locked up going into Turn 1 on the “money lap” so the warmup lap ended up being his best time which was 1 minute, 9.70 seconds. 

“Pretty disappointing qualifying for the ROKiT Chevrolet No. 14,” Bourdais commented afterwards. “Kind of paying the price for my mistake this morning. Made the change that seemed to be a good thing for our teammates, but it ended up causing another issue. Bounced off the rear third (spring) going into Turn 1 and locked everything up—rear and front [brakes]. Unfortunately, that was on what had to be the fastest lap. It’s just a real shame, now we’ll be starting well out of position. Not sure what we can do, but we’ll dig as hard as we can and see what we can do tomorrow.

A.J. Foyt explains something to Jonathan “JK” Kendrick, co-founder and chairman of the ROKiT Group of Companies. 

Dalton Kellett got his first look at the course on Thursday during the track walk as he didn’t race here last year due to event being cancelled. He will start 26th after posting a time of 1 minute, 9.76 seconds in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.

“Overall, a tough qualifying session for us, obviously not where we want to be starting with our team cars towards the back,” the recently engaged Canadian said. “The field’s very tight, very competitive and a couple tenths [of a second] puts you in the mix. From our end, we’ve been fighting some oversteer most of the weekend. Our street course car we typically have a better front end versus the road course so trying to get the rears to work a bit better and allow me to come off the brakes and really roll speed through the middle of the corner. Just happy from practice to tighten up the gap to Seb and Charlie, so that’s a gain for the 4 team. We’ll try some stuff out for tomorrow. We have three cars so we can really evaluate different packages for the race and see what we all hone in on and what we think is going to work best for tomorrow.”

Josef Newgarden won the pole with a time of 1 minute, 8.22 seconds. Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six were: Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Felix Rosenqvist and Romain Grosjean. Teams will have a 30 minute final warmup tomorrow morning.

The 85-lap Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast live on NBCSN Sunday afternoon starting at 3 p.m. ET.

Notes & Quotes: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

Notes & Quotes: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

Charlie Kimball will compete in the Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend in the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet, marking his return to the NTT INDYCAR Series competition for the first time since May. Born in England (when his father Gordon worked in Formula 1 as an engineer), Kimball grew up in Camarillo, Calif. (about 75 miles north of Long Beach) and attended the race as a child. He last competed in the Grand Prix in 2018 when he finished 10th, his best finish to date at his home track. We asked him a few questions…

What does it mean to you to be able to race at Long Beach (why is the track so special to you)? “It’s really special. Being at the Long Beach Grand Prix and not racing in 2019 was a huge motivator to put a program together with AJ Foyt Racing to be a full-time driver in 2020. And then with the pandemic, not getting to the West Coast at all last year was tough. So I am excited to be back in the car racing for A.J. Foyt in front of the Southern California INDYCAR fans.

“It feels like coming home for me because it’s not only getting back in a race car but being back in Southern California where I’m from. I remember going to the race and being on the outside of the catch fencing and waiting in line for the autographs of the drivers, and now to be on the other side of the catch fencing, it’s that much more special. It’s a great way to finish out the 2021 season.”

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

How have you prepared for this event? The street races like Long Beach are noted for being physically demanding. With the aeroscreen increasing the heat in the cockpit, the physicality of the race has also increased. How have you prepared for that? “I have been training all season with PitFit Training and despite not having any races planned, I trained as if I was in the car every weekend. I am looking forward to the physical challenge of hustling an Indy car through the streets all weekend! As for the heat, heat training and preparation has been a part of the PitFit programming for years and it has really paid off with the addition of the Aeroscreen.”

Even though you haven’t been racing as much this year you have been at the races in several capacities…can you speak about that? “I seem to have been busier on race weekends this year than if I was in the car every weekend! I have been broadcasting the Indy Lights races live on Peacock all year alongside Kevin Lee and Katie Kiel (and Georgia Hennebery since Katie went on maternity leave!). I have been adding my perspective to the AJ Foyt Racing team where and when I can, and at a few races this year, I have been on the radio during the races to Sébastien Bourdais in the No. 14 car helping navigate traffic on starts and merging out of pit lane!”

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

Do you think it will help you this weekend—allowing you to stay current on the competition? “Being around the paddock all year and watching the on track activity from a different vantage point will help me gauge what is happening during the sessions and when I’m on track. Having that feel and perspective has broadened my experience base when I’m in the cockpit.”

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

What do you think of the competition level in INDYCAR these days? “INDYCAR has never been more competitive. The lap times are incredibly close and there are at least 12-15 cars that are capable of success each and every weekend. That means you have to make as few mistakes as possible to be competitive each weekend.”

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

Will the fact that no one has been there with this car (with the aeroscreen) make it a more level playing field? “It may help level the field some, but I have a lot of confidence in the AJ Foyt Racing street course set up. After Sébastien and I both finished in the top-10 at St. Pete last year, I know we can be fast!”

What is the key to getting around the Long Beach circuit? “The most important part is having a car you can trust- the balance doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be consistent. Knowing you can consistently drive right next to the concrete barriers pays off in lap time all weekend.”

Novo Nordisk has been your sponsor since your Indy Lights days. How has the relationship with the company impacted your life? “Working with Novo Nordisk has been incredibly rewarding. Not only have they supported my dream within racing, but they have been great partners in telling my story to the whole diabetes community. I know we have made a difference in the lives of people with diabetes, and I can’t wait to continue that story this weekend at the Long Beach Grand Prix!”

Kimball Fast Facts: Age 36…Born in Chertsey, England while his father, Gordon, worked in Formula 1 as an engineer…grew up in Camarillo, Calif. where his family still owns an avocado ranch…lives in Indianapolis…married to Kathleen, has two children, Hannah and Gordon…Made history by becoming the first driver with diabetes to win an IndyCar race—Mid-Ohio in 2013. Won the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. Still holds track record for qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway with speed of 222.747mph set in 2017.

DALTON KELLETT (No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet) will be competing at Long Beach in an Indy car for the first time; he never raced there in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series.

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

Kellett: “It will be my first time racing and driving on this track so I’m excited to be turning some laps there in an Indy car. It is definitely one of the crown jewels on the INDYCAR circuit so it should be a fun weekend. I personally love street courses, and I think we have our best road course performances on the street courses this year, so looking forward to getting back on the city streets. And what a better place to end the season than on the streets of Long Beach, California! It’ll be super fun and can’t wait to wrap things up and have a strong finish.”

SHE SAID YES! Kellett proposed to his beautiful girlfriend Nicole Westra in Napa Sunday evening. Westra is an occupational therapist and has been at Kellett’s side since his Indy Lights days. It is a big year for Kellett who purchased his first home earlier this year in Indianapolis.

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing
Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

STEM Talk: Kellett will address 150 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) students from the Long Beach Unified School District on Friday in the Long Beach Convention Center prior to practice. Inspiring students to pursue STEM careers is a personal passion of Kellett’s. Since 2018, the Canadian driver has worked with Ten80 Education’s National STEM League (NSL), as their brand ambassador. The NSL is an international K-12 engineering design competition using remote-controlled cars. He supports the teams, representing them in INDYCAR and engaging with them at their competitions and through online learning materials.

Kellett Fast Facts: Age 28…Born in Stouffville, Canada…lives in Indianapolis; bought his first house there in May, 2021…Graduated from Queens University with a degree in Engineering Physics…Brand spokesman for Ten80 Education’s National STEM League…Enjoys rock climbing, backcountry skiing, camping, playing guitar, cooking and golf.

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

SÉBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet) has raced at Long Beach 14 times and finished in the top-10 in seven races. He won three straight races (2005-2007) and the pole twice (2006 and 2007), and finished on the podium in 2004 (3rd) and 2017 (2nd). Bourdais’ best finish in 2021 is fifth (Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham and World Wide Technology Raceway/Gateway in St. Louis).

Bourdais: “Very excited to go to Long Beach. Obviously, a track where I’ve had a tremendous amount

of success. I very much enjoy the layout, the atmosphere, the people and just have a lot of really good memories and very recent ones too. Got a podium there not so long ago and have been competitive many, many times—pretty much every time I’ve been there so looking forward to that last race and last Californian weekend.”

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

Bourdais Fast Facts: Age 42…Born in LeMans, France…lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. …Married to Claire, has two children, Emma and Alex…Ranks sixth on INDYCAR’s All-time Wins list with 37 victories and ranks seventh in career poles with 34…Ex-Formula One driver (2008-09)…Won 12 Hours of Sebring this year; has won Rolex 24 at Daytona overall (2014) and Petit LeMans…Finished second overall in 24 Hours of LeMans and won in the GTE class with Ford in 2016.

Past Performance at Long Beach: Sébastien Bourdais is a three-time winner of this event (2005-2007) and a two-time pole winner (2006-07). Dalton Kellett has never competed at Long Beach and Charlie Kimball’s best finish is 10th in 2018, the last time he raced there. AJ Foyt Racing’s best finish came in 2013 when Takuma Sato won after starting fourth, also the team’s best start. The team has four more top-10 finishes.

Last Race: At Laguna Seca, Bourdais finished 14th after starting 21st. Kellett finished 23rd after starting 27th.

Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

A.J. Foyt stopped by the Stevenson Hotel in Monterey this week and met second-generation owner Craig Smith. The Foyt crew stayed there this past weekend. A.J. stayed there 58 years ago when in town to compete in the sports car race at Laguna Seca in 1963 (he finished second). In fact, Smith’s father told him that A.J. was their first customer! Smith has been managing the hotel since 1984, explaining that he loves dealing with his clientele.

Foyt with Stevenson Hotel owner Craig Smith. Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast Sunday, Sept. 26 on NBC starting at 3 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be broadcast on NBCSN on Saturday, Sept. 25 starting at 3p.m. ET. The practices and qualifying will be streamed on Peacock.

Race Report: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 19, 2021)—The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was run under ideal weather conditions at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Sunday afternoon. The 95-lap race was slowed by just one caution period when a fight for the lead resulted in Alexander Rossi spinning after making contact with pacesetter and eventual winner Colton Herta.

That caution on lap 2 set up the gamble that the ROKiT crew took by pitting Sébastien Bourdais’ No. 14 Chevrolet on lap 3 when the pits opened for service. They opted to go off strategy, meaning that they would do just two more fuel stops – pitting on laps 33 and 64–with long stints in between them. The K-Line Insulators USA team elected to make it the traditional three-stop race, pitting Dalton Kellett’s No. 4 Chevrolet on laps 16, 38 and 66.

Pitstops were solid for the ROKiT crew today. (Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing)

Being on a different strategy from the leaders, Bourdais, who started 21st, ran in the top 10 from laps 14 through 31 just before he pitted. By lap 47, he worked his way back to 11th and stayed in the top-12 until lap 83 when his fuel-saving mode made him vulnerable to a charging Scott Dixon and Scott McLaughlin. Bourdais finished 14th.

Bourdais (left) talks with his engineers after the race: Technical Director Mike Colliver (center) and Race Engineer Justin Taylor. (Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing)

“A pretty interesting race for the ROKiT Chevrolet number 14 with AJ Foyt Racing,” Bourdais said afterwards. “Started 21st, obviously a few incidents in the field and that early yellow, which the team decided to go for a two-stopper from there which was a long way to go, very long stints on that high tire degradation track. So kind of struggled at the end of every stint, but we were definitely pretty competitive in that middle stint! Just really struggled on the last one so we came out with 14th place, but it was pretty much all we could hope for today.”

The K-Line Insulators Chevrolet at speed. (Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing)

Kellett’s race from 27th on the grid was a struggle as the high tire degradation, which this historic 2.23-mile track is known for, made the Canadian’s car difficult to handle—especially at the end of the fuel stints. When it was time to pit for fresh rubber, Kellett was more than ready. He was philosophical in his review of the race, noting he learned quite a bit from it. He finished 23rd.

Kellett (left) explains his point to Mike Pawlowski (race engineer-second from left), Scott Harner (race strategist – third from left) and Ryan Briscoe (driver coach). (Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing)

“Bit of a tough day for us but at least we made some spots up from where we started,” Kellett pointed out after the race. “It was definitely a struggle during the race to try and keep those Firestones under us. The second stint we ran reds and they went away really quick and it was a pretty big struggle but we got through it. Getting back on reds sort of bringing the average pace down and keep them under me for a longer stint, but it was pretty tough just trying to make them last and be competitive towards the end of the tire life. Not the result we were looking for but still lots learned and looking forward to the final round at Long Beach.”

Herta dominated the race leading 91 of the 95 laps. It was his second straight sweep at this track, the first coming in 2019 when the INDYCAR Series returned to the track after a 15-year hiatus. Finishing second was Alex Palou, the current points leader. Rounding out the top five were Romain Grosjean, Graham Rahal and Pato O’Ward.

Charlie Kimball returns to the cockpit of the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet for the final round of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series next weekend. The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast on Sunday, Sept. 26th starting at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

A.J. Foyt made the trip to Monterey for the first time since 1995. He chats with Bourdais after the race as team manager Craig Baranouski looks on. (Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing)

Qualifying Report: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 18, 2021)—The AJ Foyt Racing team will have its work cut out for them tomorrow in the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

The optimism after yesterday’s practice where Sébastien Bourdais was 12th quickest in his No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet (until his fastest lap was deleted due to the yellow coming out a couple seconds prior to his hitting the timing line) was replaced by disappointment after qualifying today.

“It started off pretty good yesterday,” said Bourdais, who will start 21st after posting a lap time of 1 minute, 11.97 seconds (111.935mph). “I thought the car was seemingly in the window, just needed a bit of grip and a bit less understeer. It seemed like there was potential from the work we did at the DIL (simulator). At least it correlated pretty well, the feel behind the wheel was very similar. Then we went back out this morning and picked up a massive amount of understeer which was really strange. Put the reds on and it didn’t really fix anything, so made very little changes for this afternoon, because for us the car has gone fairly oversteer between cold and higher track temps, and sure enough, we got loose on entry and really never recovered the front grip that we had in the center of the corners, so it became a very difficult car to drive. Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near good enough, so yeah, very disappointed.”

Dalton Kellett was fourth quickest early in this morning’s practice before he made contact with the barrier in Turn 4 which damaged the right side. Fortunately, the 28-year-old Canadian escaped injury. The K-Line Insulators USA crew made the repairs in time for Kellett to qualify, however he was at a disadvantage having lost most of the morning practice session.

“Not an easy session for us overall,” said Kellett who will start 27th. “It was obviously a scramble to recover from that hit in practice and the guys did a good job getting the car fixed up. Luckily it wasn’t too much damage and they were able to turn that car around quickly, so that was a good job by them. We tried to gamble and do reds-reds (tires) because we felt like without having the experience on reds from practice that would be a good move just to get some more time and see how those tires behave.

“The overall grip felt like it never came in and it was just kind of sliding around the whole time on the first set and then the second set, the same thing,” Kellett continued. “Kind of loose in, quite a bit of understeer mid-off and kind of backed it off a bit to just put a lap together, but it just never really felt like the temps came up. Towards the end of the stint after the checkered going through (turn) 10, it felt like we were finally getting some load in the wheel, so maybe we could have gone a lap shorter on the first stint to do four on the second run probably would have been a better idea, but hindsight is 20/20. So we obviously have some work to do in the race but we’ve shown that we could have good race pace. Qualifying is still our crux, but we’ll have to make something happen in the race tomorrow.”

Colton Herta won his second consecutive pole at this track, having swept the card in 2019, the last time the NTT INDYCAR Series raced here. Alexander Rossi, Will Power, Alex Palou, Oliver Askew and Pato O’Ward rounded out the Firestone Fast 6.

Teams will have a 30-minute final practice tomorrow morning before the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey is broadcast on NBC starting at 3 p.m. ET.

Notes & Quotes: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Notes & Quotes: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

A.J. Foyt will be traveling to the final two races of the NTT INDYCAR Series, having only attended half of the races run so far. Indy’s first four-time 500 winner has had some health issues (heat stroke) but he has been watching the races on TV this season. And he doesn’t always like what he sees. We asked him a few questions…

How is your health these days?

A.J.: “I guess it’s alright…I feel pretty good lately.”

Why are you coming to California races?

A.J.: “It’s the end of the year, and I want to see what’s going on for myself. I want to be able to evaluate everything.”

When was the last time you were at Laguna Seca?

A.J.: “Probably the last time was in 1995, my last year in CART [IndyCar Series]. Before that I raced out there twice, and ran second in a Scarab to Bruce McLaren in a sports car race (Oct. 20, 1963). And then I ran an Indy car race but I don’t know where I finished, I might have fell out.” [He competed on Oct. 16, 1988 on the newly configured course but dropped out after 17 laps with gearbox troubles.]

Foyt ran second in the Scarab at Laguna Seca in October, 1963. Bruce McLaren won the race. (Dave Friedman Photo)

What did you think of the “Corkscrew” (the downhill turns 8 and 8a where cars descend nearly six stories in less than 500 feet of track)?

A.J.: “It wasn’t that bad really, you just had to be prepared for it.”

Looking at the starts and restarts this year, there have been some crazy accidents. Where do you think the problems lie? Any ideas on how to fix them?

A.J.: “On some of those crazy starts, whoever causes them needs to be penalized. The penalties they give them now is nothing, maybe a stop-and-go in the pits or put them to the back of the field; they need to penalize them for a race or two—that’ll make them stop and think.”

The start of the Portland Grand Prix as the cars approach Turn 1. (INDYCAR Photo)

Drivers are starting to approach some of your records – like Helio Castroneves joining the 4-time 500 Winners club and Scott Dixon shooting for a 7th title. What do you think about that?

A.J.: “Records are made to be broken and with the equipment they’ve got now, it wouldn’t surprise me to see someone win Indy five or six times. Castroneves really worked hard to win it, he deserved it. Records aren’t going to last forever. But you also have to think about the cars these days, they’re so much better than they were in my day, like the durability of the motors and gearboxes. You didn’t have a button to push to come off [a turn] in fourth, fifth and sixth, you had to manually shift it yourself, and use a clutch. Nowadays, you’re just using the throttle and turning the steering wheel, so it’s a lot different driving the cars today. But talking about Dixon, he’s very competitive and he doesn’t get excited. Even if they’re outrunning him, he’s still running the same pace and that’s what puts him up front usually at the end of the race. I think he’s a very smart driver, he doesn’t get excited and he’s real smooth.”

Chip Ganassi, who owns Scott Dixon’s car, shares a laugh with Foyt at Indy.

Did you ever have a championship battle going down to the last race?

A.J.: “Yes in 1967. It was out in Riverside, California on the road course. I went off the track to miss a wreck and I still got hit out there, so I ran back and got in Roger McCluskey’s car and beat Mario Andretti for the championship.”

Had you arranged to get in another car prior to the race if you had trouble?

A.J.: “I did in case I needed one.”

They don’t allow that anymore, right?

A.J.: “No, they don’t let you do a lot of things. Now they tell you what kind of tires you’ve got to run (primary and alternate tires on road/street courses). It’s not like racing used to be. I won a race with Goodyears on the front and Firestones on the back.”

Did you get in trouble for that?

A.J.: “I was under contract with Goodyear, but like I told them, Firestone chased them all night long. That was in a sprint car. I was on the pole at Indy and went out to the Fairgrounds to run the Friday night before the 500.”

There are some new young winners in IndyCar—more so today then there have been in the last 10 years. Why do you think that is?

A.J.: “They’re good race drivers, but if you put them on a dirt race track, they wouldn’t even make the show. They’re used to running the road courses. They’re familiar with these types of cars [open wheel formula] a little bit and they’re used to this type of racing, which is the biggest thing.”

What would you consider a successful Western Swing?

A.J.: “Naturally to be successful, it would be to win but if we run good out there, I’ll be happy. We’ve won at Long Beach, so we know what it’s like to win. It’s a hard race track, a lot of people crash out there. It’s kind of like Portland, you knew on the first lap there was going to be a crash.”

Do you think the drivers have a different temperament these days?

A.J.: “No; the one thing about racing now, the cars are about a thousand percent safer, so they don’t really think about getting hurt. It’d be a lot different if a lot of them spent a little sheet time in that hospital and think more about it.”

Foyt’s Indy 500 ring has four diamonds on the flagstaff signifying his four wins. His right arm bears the scars from his accident at Michigan in 1981.

DALTON KELLETT (No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet) will be competing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in an Indy car for the first time, but he did race there in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series with a best finish of sixth in 2019. In 2019, he competed in IMSA and won his class (LMP2).

Kellett: “Laguna is definitely one of the most historic and iconic tracks on the calendar. I’m so excited

that we get to race there. I’ve had the chance to drive there in the Road to Indy and IMSA, but never in an Indy car. I’m sure the Corkscrew section will be very exciting!

“The track surface tends to be low grip, the asphalt is relatively polished and the sand from the run-offs can get blown on the track, so it is a challenging place to get right. With lots of mid-speed corners, having a balanced car that can roll good apex speeds will be important. It’s a short and intense track, the racing should be exciting!”

Kellett Fast Facts: Age 28…Born in Stouffville, Canada…lives in Indianapolis; bought his first house there in May, 2021…Graduated from Queens University with a degree in Engineering Physics…Brand spokesman for Ten80 Education’s National STEM League…Enjoys rock climbing, backcountry skiing, camping, playing guitar, cooking and golf.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet) has only competed at Laguna Seca three times with his best start coming in 2004 when he won the pole driving for Newman-Haas Racing. His posted his best finish – seventh – in 2019 driving for Dale Coyne with Vasser-Sullivan.

Bourdais: “Next round, Laguna Seca, obviously a really tough track. Very, very tricky, slippery, very old surface that hasn’t been repaved, the last time was 2006! So pretty rough, very aggressive on tires, big tire degradation. Lots of elevation change, camber, off-camber, wheels hanging off in the Corkscrew. A big challenge technically and a big challenge for the engineers to try and figure out a way to get the car to comply and at the same time have enough downforce and platform control that it’s a workable car for the driver. So always a lot of head scratching over there but a big and interesting challenge. We did work quite a bit as well at this one on the simulator. I think we did kind of come back to some of the conclusions that they and I had seen before during our last visit in 2019. So, it will be interesting to see if we land on our feet and get a competitive car right away off the truck and we’ll go from there.”

Bourdais Fast Facts: Age 42…Born in LeMans, France…lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. …Married to Claire, has two children, Emma and Alex…Ranks sixth on INDYCAR’s All-time Wins list with 37 victories and ranks seventh in career poles with 34…Ex-Formula One driver (2008-09)…Won 12 Hours of Sebring this year; has won Rolex 24 at Daytona overall (2014) and Petit LeMans…Finished second overall in 24 Hours of LeMans and won in the GTE class with Ford in 2016.

Past Performance at WeatherTech Laguna Seca: Kellett competed at Laguna Seca in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires with a best start of fifth and best finish of sixth. Bourdais won the pole in 2004 and his best finish was seventh in 2019. 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 Portland, both Bourdais and Kellett, who started 12th and 24th respectively, maneuvered their way through the Lap 1 Turn 1 chaos for significant gains: Bourdais restarted fifth and Kellett 13th. Kellett had an electrical issue halfway through the race forcing him out while running 12th. Bourdais’s strategy, which appeared it would pay off with another top-10, went sideways when the yellow flag waved halfway through the race (ironically for Kellett’s electrical issues as well as Callum Ilott’s problems). On lap 90, Bourdais made contact with Oliver Askew which resulted in Bourdais dropping from 16th to 20th. In the laps remaining, he did pick up two spots to finish 18th.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be broadcast live at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. Qualifying will be broadcast on NBCSN on a delayed basis Saturday night from 11:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. ET. Peacock will stream practice on Friday at 5:30 p.m. ET, on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. ET and Sunday morning starting at 12 noon ET. It will stream qualifying starting at 5:05 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Race Report: Grand Prix of Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (Sept. 12, 2021)—To quote Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

When the Grand Prix of Portland slowed for a Turn 1 melee on the initial start which Sebastien Bourdais and Dalton Kellett navigated cleanly and found themselves in fifth and 13th respectively, things were looking pretty good for AJ Foyt Racing. Especially considering that from their original grid positions, Bourdais gained seven spots in the ROKiT Chevrolet and Kellett gained 11 spots in the K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.

However, the cautions — there were four for 20 laps–played havoc with the fuel strategies and turned the apparent negatives into positives with cars that were penalized in the beginning finishing on the podium in the end.

Alex Palou won the race after starting from the pole. However, he worked his way up from P17 because he missed the Turn 1 chicane on the start as did outside pole sitter Alexander Rossi who finished second after climbing back from 20th. Third place finisher Scott Dixon recovered from 18th in the same scenario. Rounding out the top five were Jack Harvey and Josef Newgarden.

Kellett’s race ended early when he had an issue with the fuel injection which was particularly disappointing since he was running 12th when the problem surfaced 50 laps into the 110-lap race. He placed 26th.

Kellett leads rookie Callum Ilott, Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon before mechanical troubles sidelined him early.

“I’m so gutted for the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevy team,” said the 28-year-old Canadian. “We were having a great race going and got a little lucky off the start with that melee and the way that the order was reshuffled. Gained some good positions and was able to hold on and be competitive. The pace felt strong compared to where we were in qualifying, so really happy with that. It’s just a shame how this race ended early for us. Looks like we had an electrical issue. We haven’t diagnosed that yet, still waiting for the car to come back. We’ll figure out what it was and make sure it doesn’t happen again. This has been a tough weekend with it kind of being up and down for qualifying, things like that. The race performance, was happy with that. That’s a positive we have to take out of this weekend and just diagnose the mechanical issue and go from there.”

When Bourdais made his first stop from fifth, he dropped to 19th due to the different fuel strategies in play. However, it was thought he would still have a good shot if the race continued under green. The caution that really handicapped them was the one on lap 86 for the incident between teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power which resulted in Pagenaud getting an avoidable contact penalty. That caution allowed those who were saving fuel some breathing room as they would likely make it to the end.

The crew gave Bourdais solid stops but the cautions didn’t work in their favor today.

The fourth and final caution, resulting from Bourdais’s contact with Oliver Askew while trying to make a pass in Turn 2, sealed the deal for the fuel stretchers. Bourdais dropped from 16th to 20th. With 20 laps to go in the race, he passed two cars to finish 18th.

“Obviously a bit of a sore day here for us at Portland International Raceway,” Bourdais commented. “Man, it looked like it was going to be a great day and after avoiding the chaos at the start and getting the lucky break with the reordering and getting fifth out of that, it seemed like we were going to do really good. Unfortunately, we were on the three-stopper with Pato and Ericsson and those guys and the yellows fell at exactly the wrong time for the three-stoppers like us and at the perfect time for the guys that suffered at the beginning of the race on the two-stopper and we could never recover from that. On top of that, we got tangled with Oliver Askew – more of my fault than his fault – and we were fighting with Veekay, and he ended up just not quite giving me enough room to be able to make the lap. I was on the curb and just tapped the brakes when I saw him turn and just caught his left rear tire trying to get out of it. Just a shame we’re not getting much out of this weekend when we clearly had some pace, had a pretty decent qualifying and just a shame that we couldn’t transform the essay [a French rugby term meaning “convert the try” or score the goal] and we couldn’t get some good points again.”

The NTT INDYCAR Series heads to California this week for the Firestone Grand Prix at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca which will be broadcast live on NBC Sunday afternoon starting at 3 p.m. ET.

Qualifying Report: Grand Prix of Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (Sept. 11, 2021)—The day began with a solemn tribute and a moment of silence on the INDYCAR grid as the 27 teams lined up at 7:28 a.m. (PT) to honor the 20th anniversary of the September 11thattacks on our country. The significance of the time (10:28 a.m. ET) is when the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, a span of 102 minutes from when the first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. ET. It was the first time that the INDYCAR community came together as a group to pay public tribute to the tragedy.

The teams lined up for a moment of silence in tribute to the 9/11 tragedy which occurred 20 years ago. (INDYCAR Photo – Joe Skibinski)

The day ended with the teams logging in practice, qualifying and final practice around the 12-turn, 1.964-mile road course in preparation for tomorrow’s 110-lap Grand Prix of Portland.

In qualifying, Sebastien Bourdais advanced to the second round in his No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet. However, a change to improve the car between rounds didn’t work as expected and he did not advance to the Firestone Fast 6. He will start 12th after posting a time of 59.2419 seconds (119.348mph).

Team President Larry Foyt checks in with Bourdais prior to qualifying.

“Obviously really quite satisfied with making the Fast 12,” Bourdais commented afterwards, adding, “Unfortunately, we just made a tiny bit of a change to try and get rid of some of the mid-corner understeer we have and it kind of bit us. We ended up losing the stability and didn’t really fix at all the understeer, so lost a couple tenths in that Fast 12 second segment. It’s a shame because it looks like we had something pretty good, and it’s all so tight and we end up P12 (after) using two sets of tires. Really happy to make it into the Fast 12 but really quite disappointed with the Fast 12 itself. So now we’ve got some work to do in the race. It’s always a tough one here, definitely try at first to survive turn one and then go from there.”

Driving his No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet at Portland for the first time, Dalton Kellett was a bit frustrated with his qualifying run despite making improvements to the car from the morning practice session. Kellett will start 24th after posting a time of 59.7438 seconds (118.345mph).

Kellett talks with driver coach Ryan Briscoe. Kellett is wearing a cool suit to combat cockpit temperatures which increased significantly with the addition of the protective aero screen last year.

“Not the session we were looking for really,” said Kellett. “It was an improvement from practice and we tidied up some sections we were losing to Seb, so was happy about that, but just ended up losing time coming on to the straightaway in (Turn) 12, and out of (Turn) 7 and that cost us quite a bit for how tight the field is. Kind of disappointed with that and that’s more on me, so it’s something to keep working on. Overall, I think we’ve definitely got a decent car and we’re going to see how it goes in final practice with the long runs and see what our average race pace is going to look like and go from there. It’s a long race tomorrow and lots can happen, so we have to be capitalizing on opportunities and other people’s mistakes to move up from where we are because we’re definitely not starting from where we want to be. So, we’ve got to make some moves.”

Rookie Alex Palou outpaced his teammate and six-time champion Scott Dixon to win his first NTT INDYCAR Series pole with a time of 58.7701 seconds (120.306mph). Alexander Rossi was second, followed by Dixon, his teammate Felix Rosenqvist, Graham Rahal and Colton Herta.

The Grand Prix of Portland will be broadcast live on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network starting at 3 p.m. ET.

The INDYCAR Series paid tribute to the late writer extraordinaire Robin Miller with a reserved spot in the media center and decals that were distributed to teams for the race cars

Notes & Quotes: Grand Prix of Portland

Indianapolis native Chris Welch works as the drive line specialist for AJ Foyt Racing. Now living in Plainfield, Ind., Chris and his wife Bessie have two daughters and two grandchildren. He is one of the busiest men on the team as he manages the subassembly and gearbox department and builds the gearboxes for both the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet and the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet. We asked him a few questions…

How did you get involved in motorsports?

CW: “I got involved at a young age helping our neighbors clean cars and doing odd jobs on their USAC Late Model. My Dad helped our neighbors with their car as he was a welder and metal finisher by trade. I can’t pinpoint which race was my first race but I’m sure it was a Late Model race probably at Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, Ohio).”

What was the first race you worked?

CW: “I was lucky enough to help out on all kinds of cars for free at a younger age and gained a lot of experience. In the mid 90’s I got a shot at chiefing a USAC sprint car team driven by Brad Marvel and won some races and a track championship at Putnamville, Ind. (Lincoln Park Speedway).”

Did you always want to work with Indy Cars?

CW: “I never looked at Indy Cars as a career I was looking to work my way up and travel the World of Outlaws Sprint Car circuit.”

Did you attend your first Indy car race as a fan or as a participant? When/where was it?

CW: “My first Indy Car race was in 1997 at Texas Motor Speedway working on Scott Goodyear’s car.”

At what point did you decide to specialize in gearboxes?

CW: “I was at Panther Racing and in 1999 the team needed a gearbox guy and asked if I would be interested in learning the trade. I was lucky enough that there were a couple guys in the industry that were very helpful in showing me the ropes.”

Welch at work in the Foyt shop in Indianapolis.

What are the challenges of doing gearboxes for both cars during a race weekend and how do you overcome them?

CW: “It is a challenging job on the weekends to be able to do gearchanges between sessions on both cars but the engineers usually get me the info in a timely manner and the mechanics are good at getting the cars ready to do the changes.”

You are also part of the over-the-wall pit crew and do the tear-off. There is a YouTube video of you getting hit during a pit stop (2019) but you just bounced back and continued on! What were you thinking at the time? And do you ever think about it when guys come into the pits hot?

CW: “I have been hit on pit lane a few times but the one that sticks out was a few years ago at Texas with Sato. We were leading the race and when he came in, I was doing the inside front and saw the car coming in and saw the front tires locking up and he was turning in. I was hoping it would catch and turn, so I stayed ready. As it got close, I knew it wasn’t going to be good, and I knew I had to get off my feet so I wouldn’t be pinned against the wall. I got hit and tumbled over the car but knew I still had to do the job. You always keep the learning moments in the back of your head, but you can’t worry about them, you just have to trust the people around you and focus on the job at hand.”

Welch (without hat) looks over car during practice at Detroit.

What gives you the most satisfaction from your job?

CW: “The most satisfaction comes at the end of an event and everything is still together and running.”

What is the highlight of your career so far?

CW: “I’ve been lucky enough to be part of some very successful teams and win a lot of things like Indy (’08, ’10, ’12), 24 Hours at Daytona (overall with prototypes in ’06, ’07, ’08), 24 Hours of LeMans (class win Ford GT40 ‘16), and a couple of championships. But I would say the highlight is that I’m still here and able to do what I love to do.”

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

CW: “I have a few things I like to do when I’m not working like spending time with the grandkids. I also play with 1/24 slot cars with a few racing buddies. I also love getting back to my roots and help my brother and nephew Jordan with their 305 winged sprint car.”

DALTON KELLETT (No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet) will be competing at Portland in an Indy car for the first time but he did race there in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series with a best finish of fifth in 2019.

Kellett: “I can’t wait to kick off the west coast swing at Portland! With all the disruption we had to the schedule last year, especially to the non-Midwest races, it will be great to be on the road, traveling to these classic venues. Normally, we would have had Long Beach earlier in the year, but I think it will be fun to have the west coast races clustered like this. It’s a unique way to finish off the season.

“I haven’t driven Portland in the Indy car but it was a cool track in Lights. Lots of long, mid-speed corners that ask a lot of the front tires.

“Coming off a good weekend at Gateway, I think, for us, it’s important to key into what went well there and integrate that into our approach. All the while, not getting distracted by our emotions or expectations for the end of the season. We want the results, but we have to focus on getting the process right. That’s the approach going into these last three races.”

Kellett Fast Facts: Age 27…Born in Stouffville, Canada…lives in Indianapolis; bought his first house there in May…Graduated from Queens University with a degree in Engineering Physics…Brand spokesman for Ten80 Education’s National STEM League…Enjoys rock climbing, backcountry skiing, camping, playing guitar, cooking and golf.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet) has an impressive resume when it comes to Portland where he first competed in 2003 driving for Newman Haas. That year was the only one when he did not finish the race. In seven races, he started in the Top-5 six times (once from the pole in 2004). He won twice (‘04 and ‘07) and finished on the podium three more times (’05, ’06, ’18).

Bourdais: “Very tiny track but a really fun one. Always kind of had some good things over there, so looking forward to a good weekend. We had a good sim day where we prepared for Portland and the last two after that, so hoping that the hard work and the spike in momentum that we got from Gateway keeps going and we can push that ROKiT Chevrolet No. 14 towards the front once again and finish the season as well as we can.”

Bourdais Fast Facts: Age 42…Born in LeMans, France…lives in St. Petersburg, Fla…Married to Claire, has two children, Emma and Alex…Ranks sixth on INDYCAR’s All-time Wins list with 37 victories and ranks seventh in career poles with 34…Ex-Formula One driver (2008-09)…Won 12 Hours of Sebring this year; has won Rolex 24 at Daytona overall (2014) and Petit LeMans…Finished second overall in 24 Hours of LeMans and won in the GTE class with Ford in 2016.

Past Performance at Portland: This year marks the first NTT INDYCAR Series race for Dalton Kellett at Portland International Raceway. He raced there in Indy Lights with his best start fourth and his best finish fifth, both in 2019. Sebastien Bourdais’ best start was from pole in 2004 with Newman Haas Racing – a race he won. He won again in 2007 with Newman Haas Lanigan Racing. 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, the last time that the NTT INDYCAR Series competed here (the race was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic).

Last Race: AJ Foyt Racing enjoyed a season-high finish with both Sebastien Bourdais and Dalton Kellett at World Wide Technology Raceway three weeks ago. Bourdais matched his season-high finish of fifth after starting 18th; he led for 19 laps. He also claimed fifth in the season opener at Barber Motorsports Park. Kellett earned his career best finish –12th — in the NTT INDYCAR Series after making an impressive run from 24th. Early in the race, both cars sustained impacts, but neither car sustained enough damage to take them out of contention.

Live coverage of the Portland Grand Prix begins at Sunday, September 12 on NBC at 3:00 PM ET. There will be two practice sessions on Saturday (Noon ET and 6:15 ET) with a 75-minute qualifying session in between, starting at 3:15 PM ET – all streaming live on Peacock TV. Coverage will also be available on the INDYCAR Radio Network and Sirius XM channel 205.

Charlie Kimball To Drive No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet in Season Finale

INDIANAPOLIS (September 2, 2021)—Charlie Kimball will return to the cockpit of the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the season finale of the NTT INDYCAR Series.

“I cannot wait to get back behind the wheel of an AJ Foyt Indy car mostly because I love racing,” said Kimball, adding, “I am also excited to race on behalf of my long-time sponsor Novo Nordisk one more time this season at one of my favorite races. Working with the team at AJ Foyt Racing, both in and out of the cockpit, has been very rewarding and I look forward to continuing that work in Long Beach.”

Kimball at speed in the GMR Grand Prix on the road course at IMS in May.

Kimball last competed for AJ Foyt Racing in the GMR Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, finishing 22nd. Their attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 was unsuccessful. In 2020, Kimball drove fulltime for the team scoring a season-best finish of eighth in St. Petersburg in October.

“We are very happy to have Charlie and Novo Nordisk back for the season finale,” said Larry Foyt, team

president. “Long Beach is such a great race for the NTT INDYCAR Series, and I’m glad we could put this event together for Charlie and Novo Nordisk because they have been great partners of our team. They have touched many lives and inspired many race fans through the motorsports platform, and I’m honored that our team was able to be a small part of that.”

In 2020, the INDYCAR Series events in California were cancelled due to the pandemic which proved to be particularly disappointing for Kimball who was looking forward to competing in Long Beach which is about 75 miles from where he grew up in Camarillo, Calif. He last competed there in 2018 for Carlin Racing and finished 10th.

Being able to wrap up the season in Long Beach holds special significance for Kimball.

“Long Beach is my favorite event outside of the Indy 500 – I spent my childhood coming to this race

and dreaming about being on the other side of the fence,” he revealed. “The chance to compete at this track, so close to my hometown, three and a half years since my last time behind the wheel there has been one of my biggest personal motivators.”

Kimball has been keeping busy this season as the color commentator for the Indy Lights Series presented by Cooper Tires, a gig for which he has proven to be quite adept by giving his perceptive insight to the on-track action.

Larry Foyt (L) chats with Charlie Kimball at the season opener in Birmingham.

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) on Sunday, September 26 starting at 3 p.m. ET.

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