Archives for A.J. Foyt Racing PR

Sebastien Bourdais Signed to Drive the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2021; He Will Debut in the Harvest Grand Prix Doubleheader

INDIANAPOLIS—Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais has been hired as the sole driver of A.J. Foyt’s No. 14 Indy car in 2021. This year the French native was scheduled to share the driving duties with 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, who is winding down his career, and rookie Dalton Kellett, a graduate of the Road to Indy ladder series.

Bourdais went from being a part-time driver of Foyt’s No. 14 Chevrolet in 2020 to a full-time driver in 2021 without ever turning a lap in competition in the NTT INDYCAR Series this year. That is about to change.

Bourdais will make his official debut in the No. 14 at Indy’s Harvest Grand Prix.

Originally scheduled to drive for Foyt in the first three races of 2020, Bourdais will now drive in the final three races of the season, beginning with the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oct. 2-3.

Currently in LeMans, France prepping for the upcoming 24 Hours of LeMans this

 weekend, Bourdais said, “This is exciting news for all of us. We waited with anticipation for most of 2020 to put together a deal for 2021. I’m really happy that I’m running the last three races of the year — it is great for us to get an early start on next year. 2020 has been a very strange year so far and I can’t wait to finally get behind the wheel of the AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet No. 14.”

Bourdais was scheduled to kick off the 2020 season in March in the No. 14 in St. Petersburg, Fla.  where he lives with his wife Claire and their two children. However, the Covid-19 pandemic pushed that event to October 25, and now becomes the NTT INDYCAR Series’ season finale. 

AJ Foyt Racing President Larry Foyt is elated with the signing of Bourdais for next year.

“I’m happy to have this deal done and welcome Sebastien to AJ Foyt Racing,” Foyt said. “The short time we have been able to work together showed a great deal of promise, and it was a shame that his races with us were derailed by the pandemic. I’m glad we were able to add some of these races back on the schedule, as it will undoubtedly help us kickstart his full-time campaign for 2021. His resume speaks for itself, and there is no denying he is a great addition to our program.” 

Bourdais tested the No. 14 car with the aeroscreen at the INDYCAR Open Test at the Circuit of the Americas and at a private test at Sebring International Raceway in February.

Asked if the car felt much different with the addition of the aeroscreen, Bourdais replied, “Not very much. This year’s car felt heavier, more inertia and the tires felt different but the setups were very different as well from what I was used to (Bourdais drove Honda-powered cars for Dale Coyne Racing from 2017-19). It’s a whole new learning process. I think there were many differences from the last three or four seasons I had that I think you go into the relationship with a clean slate, no preconceived ideas, try to fit in and bring your experience to the table, but also trying to learn as much as you can from what’s there.”

Bourdais was able to test the No. 14 at the COTA open test.

Dalton Kellett was originally scheduled to compete in the Harvest Grand Prix driving the No. 14 but he will now move to the No. 41 K-Line Insulators Chevrolet, the number under which he made his debut in this year’s Indianapolis 500. The team will also field the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet for Charlie Kimball who is driving full-time for Foyt this season. 

Team owner A.J. Foyt plans to attend the doubleheader in Indy. He is happy about

Bourdais joining the team in a full-time capacity and said, “I think he’ll be an asset to the team by far. We tested with him earlier this year and he knew exactly what he wanted and today I think that’s very important in a racecar driver. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Race 1 of the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader will be broadcast on Friday, Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET on the USA Network while the Race 2 will be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 3 on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Race Report: Race 2 – Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio—The second race of the Honda Indy 200 did not look much different than the first for the AJ Foyt Racing team results-wise but both the veteran and the rookie took away some positives from a challenging weekend at the central Ohio track.

Qualifying this morning was a bit of a struggle for all of the cars at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course due to the rain that preceded the session. Nearly everyone in the first group spun off track including Charlie Kimball. The car stalled which brought out the red flag relegating him to last in his group. In the next group yesterday’s winner Will Power did the same. Moments later Jack Harvey backed it into a tire barrier and then Pato O’Ward brought out another red flag with his spin. When the sessions were finally completed, Kimball would start 22nd and teammate Dalton Kellett, who never went off track in the wet, would start 20th.

The rain moved out by race time and the race got underway. Starting outside pole, Santino Ferrucci dropped a wheel off track as he tried to move past leader Colton Herta heading into Turn 4. Driving through the grass he re-entered in Turn 5 and bounced off several cars like a cue ball knocking out his teammate Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist. They were done and Ferrucci was sent to the back of the field, penalized for avoidable contact.

Kellett avoided the melee and moved into 15th while Kimball was in 20th but the team pitted him to take a splash of fuel since it wouldn’t cost him anything. Kellett dropped to 16th with Max Chilton’s pass on lap five. He was holding his own despite being pressured by Takuma Sato but unfortunately, a small mistake going into Turn 1 on lap 15 cost him. He spun off into the gravel pit and the car stalled. A full course caution ensued but It took two laps to be retrieved by the AMR safety crew.

When Kellett made it back to the pits, the team saw that the underwing was damaged but he returned to the race for the experience. The rookie worked on saving fuel and making sure he didn’t interfere with the leaders on track. With the damaged underwing, the car lost quite a bit of downforce making it a long day in the cockpit. He placed 21st.

Kimball wasn’t able to make much headway even though the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet was better from the overnight changes. Aside from the two early cautions, the rest of the race went nonstop. He placed 19th.

Kimball in post-race discussion with Larry Foyt.

“I definitely think we made the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet better overnight from race one to race two,” said Kimball. This morning obviously was unfortunate with the spin in the wet so we started last and around here at Mid-Ohio it’s so hard to pass. The guys did a great job in pit lane. We were able to hit the fuel number we needed to get to the end of the race, so on that side of things I think we checked some boxes, learned some things, learned a little bit about the car as we head to the doubleheader at the Harvest Grand Prix back on the Indy road course. We’ll take what we learned from there in July, what we learned from here, put it together and hopefully come up with a good package off the truck.”

Kellett was philosophical about his race in the No. 14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.

Kellett listens to race engineer Daniele Cucchiaroni (right) as driver coach Darren Manning looks on.

“The only thing you can do on a day like today is take the positives and learn from what went wrong,” the young Canadian said afterwards. “The team made some good changes from qualifying to the race. For the first half of the first stint, the car felt really good, we were on pace with the guys around us. Our speed was pretty competitive on the alternate Firestones. Just a little mistake on my part on the downshift, it got loose into [Turn] 1 and I couldn’t save it. When I backed it into the gravel, we damaged the underwing pretty bad so it was a big loss in downforce. The rest of the race was more of an exercise in keeping the car on the track and trying not to get in the way of the leaders and the cars that weren’t damaged and kind of chugging along. It’s one we’ll have to file away and come back stronger for the Harvest GP.”

Herta scored the third victory of his career and led his teammates to a podium sweep with Alexander Rossi finishing second and Ryan Hunter-Reay third. Graham Rahal and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top-five.

The NTT INDYCAR Series takes a two week break before returning to action in Indianapolis for the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader on Oct. 2-3. 

Race Report: Race 1 – Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio—Teams put a premium on qualifying at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course because the tight, twisty road course doesn’t allow for much passing. That was good news for Will Power who won from the pole (his 60th) to score his first victory at the 2.258-mile circuit.

For AJ Foyt Racing drivers Charlie Kimball and Dalton Kellett, qualifying did not go well as they started 22nd and 23rd respectively. 

Kimball was not happy with his car after this morning’s 75-minute practice which was shortened by 10-15 minutes due to Pato O’Ward’s off track excursion into a tire barrier (he wasn’t injured). The shortened practice didn’t make it any easier for Kellett, a rookie in the NTT INDYCAR Series. The team made further changes to both cars after this afternoon’s qualifying session. 

In the race, Kellett found the changes to his car worked but Kimball was still unhappy with his car. 

“It was a really tough day honestly,” Kimball said after finishing 21st in the 75-lap race. “We missed it a little bit in qualifying and I feel like we missed it a lot in the race. The 14 car looked a little more competitive in the race so we’ll look at what they did and come up with some ideas. The nice thing is that we get to do it all again tomorrow, so I have a lot of faith in the No. 4 AJ Foyt Racing crew. We just have to sit down, put all our heads together and come up with something to start tomorrow.”

Running his fifth race of a partial season in the K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, Kellett, who finished 22nd, said, “Not the overall finishing position we’d like, but I think we found some easy time to gain in qualifying for tomorrow, so hopefully we should be able to qualify a little further up the grid.”  

Always analytical, the Queens University engineering graduate explained the challenge of starting in the rear of the field, saying, “That will definitely make it a little easier because when you’re starting at the back there, by the end of the first lap you’re already a significant chunk behind the leaders and it’s a short lap, so then with the pit cycles you end up kind of risking going a lap down and getting caught in a pack that’s at a different speed than you so that can be a bit difficult. So really the goal for tomorrow is qualifying further up, that will make our lives easier and keep working on the car. 

Although he was lapped, he was able to run wheel to wheel with cars which resulted in some valuable experience in an unusual season that is short on track time. “I think we’ve made the car better from practice to qualifying to the race and definitely learned some good lessons today that we can take into tomorrow.”

One bright note from today’s action were the flawless pit stops by both the Tresiba crew on the No. 4 Chevy and the K-Line Insulators USA crew on the No. 14 Chevy.

Today’s race went caution free which didn’t allow for any respite for the drivers over the 90-minute race. It was the third race in a row to run caution-free at this track, the most physical on the INDYCAR circuit. One of the challenges all of the drivers will face is running another very physical 75-lap race around the 13-turn circuit within 19 hours of the finish of today’s race.

Following Power across the line were Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Tomorrow’s qualifying session for race 2 starts at 10:15 a.m. ET and will be available on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold. The race will be broadcast on NBC starting at 1 p.m.

Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

Race Engineer Mike Colliver has worked with AJ Foyt Racing on and off since 2008 when Darren Manning drove the No. 14 and registered his career-best finish of second at Watkins Glen. Colliver came on board this year as race engineer for Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais and to assist Dalton Kellett’s race engineer Daniele Cucchiaroni. Colliver has worked both sides of the pit wall, first working as a mechanic and tire changer before utilizing his engineering background. Before entering racing fulltime, he received some patents from his previous career as a bio-medical engineer. We asked him a few questions…

Q: How did you get involved in motorsports as a career?

MC: “I was always a big fan of IndyCar racing.  I started racing Formula Fords w/ Skip Barber Racing series and some SCCA Formula continentals after college.  Realizing I didn’t have the money to “make it” (and probably not the talent) as a driver, I quit my “real” job and went to work as an entry level mechanic at the Skip Barber racing school. Pay was horrible, hours long, but I got some free “seat time” in the cars and got my foot in the racing door.”

Q: What is your educational background?

MC: “Graduated from Purdue with a degree in Bio-medical engineering.  Worked for six years in the medical engineering field, mostly in the cardiovascular area (angioplasty

and stent development).  Received a few patents along the way and moved into mid-level management before making the leap to racing. I went from a 6-figure job in the spring of 1994 to $12K as a mechanic. Was single and put my belongings in a storage locker and moved to Lime Rock, Conn. Then to Sebring, Fla. that winter. Worked as a mechanic for four years before Treadway Racing gave me a shot as a junior engineer in 1999 under ‘Dr. Who’ (Tim Wardrop who was Luyendyk’s engineer on his 237 Indy record lap). Parents were very supportive even though they thought I was crazy….but it was my childhood dream! So to have worked and met guys who were my heroes like Al Jr, Arie, Pancho, Sneva, Big Al, and obviously A.J. is just very cool.”

Colliver eventually did get married in 2007. He is pictured here with his family: wife Angela and their son Taylor and daughter Thessaly.

Q: What was the first race you attended in person?

MC: “Probably a sprint car race at Eldora or Winchester in the mid-sixties before I can remember. I do remember being at many short tracks watching USAC sprints and the Hoosier Hundred (including seeing AJ) and Indy Qualifying at ages 4-5ish.”

Q: What was the first Indy 500 you attended in person?  

MC: “I remember listening to 500s in the early seventies, then the first year I attended was ’73.  It was the crazy/tragic year that saw several drivers killed [Art Pollard, Swede Savage] or injured [Salt Walther] along with a few days of rain that was eventually finished on a Wednesday–which our family stayed for (my Dad let me play hooky).”

Q: Where have you worked in IndyCar/Indy Lights?

MC: “Since I’m a “consultant/contract engineer” I’ve been fortunate to work with many teams and learn from some of the great engineers and mechanics over the years.  Started in 1995 in Indy Lights and also working on Davey Hamilton’s car at Indy that same year….although we missed the race.”

Q: Most memorable moment in racing so far?

MC: “Winning the 1996 Indy 500 w/ith Buddy Lazier and Hemelgarn Racing.  I was 2nd mechanic on that car and changed the left rear tire during the race.  Pretty nervous on the last stop knowing we had a shot at winning!”

 Colliver pictured with Buddy Lazier after winning the 1996 Indy 500.

Q: Focusing on this season, what has been the biggest challenge for you as an engineer this season?

MC: “Adminstratively: coming back to the team and re-learning the tools we use to engineer the cars. At the track: it always takes time for drivers and engineers to get on the same page–terminology, hand/body language, what they want out of the car, how they “feel” its balance etc., then having multiple drivers. Mechanically: figuring out what the car wants with the new aeroscreen.  Weighing 60 lbs. and being forward and high, it has significantly changed the weight distribution and center of gravity height of the car.”

Q: What the tools you referred to above?

MC: “All the teams have different software that the engineers use to analyze the data, different setups, shocks etc. Some of the software is commercially available so all teams use the same, and some is developed in house so it’s different for each team. Also all the channel names in the data acquisition software is team specific so it’s re-learning what names Foyt uses compared to Shank or AA etc. Also, the engine manufacturers provide analysis tools for aero, etc. so the stuff we use with a Honda team is different than a Chevy team along with all the naming conventions being different and driver assist items like fuel mix, soft limiter methods, etc.”

Q: Has the aeroscreen had more of an impact on the ovals or the road courses and why?

MC: “Probably a slightly bigger effect on the ovals as the higher the Lateral G force the more affect it has on the handling.”

Q: Has the reduced amount of practice and testing made the playing field more level or less so this year?

MC: “If you have a “good” car to start the weekend it levels the field. But, the doubleheader weekends give the larger teams a bit of an advantage as they can pool the “limited” info quicker and get sorted out for the second race. I think this was evident at Gateway in the second race, as I think every car was running within 0.2s lap times of each other for the majority of the race so, for the most part, cars finished about where they started.”

 Q: With the race shortened to 75 laps at Mid-Ohio, how will that affect the race strategy?

MC: “With 90 laps some cars were on 2 stop and some were on 3 stoppers, with 75 laps everyone will be on 2 stop strategy…it’ll just be a matter of whether you come early or late on your first stop.  So, it’s a simpler strategy.”

Q: How tough are the doubleheaders on the engineering staff? Is it different for the road courses vs the ovals or does that matter?

MC: “Doubleheaders and impound races are definitely tough on EVERYONE, not just the engineers. Very long days that are “non-stop” from the minute we get to the track until we leave.  Both physically and mentally grueling. The engineers then have to go back to the hotel and sift thru the data to make final decisions on setup changes to give to the mechanics the next morning for the second race.

Impound races force the engineer to sometimes come up w/ a “hybrid” setup that is good for both Qualy (short-run) and the race (log-run), or bias in one direction (Q or Race) and basically choose your poison. The shorter weekends are nice however, so its a trade-off.  Ovals and road-course are basically the same.”

Q: You (and Daniele) worked with the most experienced driver in the field

and now a rookie. Is your approach to each driver different? 

MC: “Approach is always a bit more conservative with Dalton (or any Rookie) and we are likely to make smaller changes to his car.  With Tony’s experience we can throw larger changes at him, especially on the ovals where a wrong or bad change might catch a rookie out, but a veteran like Tony can (hopefully) feel it before he knocks the fence down. Normally with a younger driver I like to go back through the changes with them after the session, so they can begin building a mental library of what change “x” normally does or feels like.  Then they can help guide the engineer to certain feels they desire in the car in the future.” 

Q: What would you consider a successful weekend at Mid-Ohio?

MC:  “This series is so tight these days….a few tenths of a second in qualifying is 10 spots…..that’s 12 turns at M-O so your talking less than .02/.03s per corner difference. It would be great to qualify both cars in the top 12 for both races and finish both cars in the top ten. If we can get one in the top five for either race that would be fantastic.”

Q: Heard you enrolled in a sprint car school last fall for fun?

MC: “Actually that was the second one I’ve done. I did the Kenny Wallace one also. It’s a total blast. Gives you HUGE appreciation for what those guys do and did (A.J. etc.). You can really feel the Horsepower and stagger. The Wallace school car had bigger stagger so the car turned when you lifted and when you put the power back on. The Kruseman school car had less stagger and you had to turn the car by jabbing the brake hard on entry (only the left front corner has a brake) so the car would rotate on braking, then when pointed around the corner you’d apply throttle and go. Really have to be careful with throttle application as the cars have 700HP and the rear tires will spin very easily. Very physical working the wheel….my arms got tired and I only ran two 20-lap sessions–by myself! I had raced on pavement road courses before, but dirt is a totally different deal. Car control with throttle……crazy stuff! I had signed up to drive a Rusty Wallace Stock Car School this fall at Salem, Ind. (one of my favorite tracks as a kid – and probably A.J.’s), but it got canceled due to COVID.”  [Ed. Note: A.J. credits his running well at Salem as the break that got him into the championship car in 1957.]

CHARLIE KIMBALL returns to Mid-Ohio this season after missing last year due to running a partial season with Carlin Racing. He won in 2013 with Chip Ganassi Racing after starting fifth which is his best start at this track (he also started fifth in 2016 and finished eighth). In seven races, he posted three top-10s. He has started in the top-10 four times.

Kimball on Mid-Ohio:  “I’m glad we are able to get the opportunity to race at Mid-Ohio this year, a double header means double the fun around the track which is one of my favorites. I have a lot of confidence in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet after leaving the last road course at Road America and knowing that will translate into this weekend. Strategically, the 15 lap shorter race adds a wrinkle in the thought process but having won there in 2013 with a healthy dose of strategy the opportunity exists for us to excel.”

Kimball at speed on the last permanent road course he ran – Road America.

DALTON KELLETT will be back in the No. 14 this weekend for the first time since Road America in June. He ran the No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA

 Chevrolet in his Indy 500 debut. This will be his fifth NTT IndyCar Series start at a track where he has eight starts in Indy Lights with a best finish of third in Race 1 in 2018 (pictured here). 

Kellett: “I am very excited for the double-header at Mid-Ohio and thankful for the efforts of INDYCAR, Savoree-Green, and the State for surmounting the challenges of rescheduling the race. It’s one of my favourite tracks, I love the technical and fast-paced nature of the layout. This weekend will be physically and mentally challenging, for both crew and drivers. It shouldn’t be quite as hot as the Indy GP, but you can’t discount the physical nature of this place. There’s not much time to relax. It will be good to jump back in the No. 14 and continue to work on our road course package. Given the condensed schedule, we’re doing more development, during race weekends, than we might on a typical year. That means it will be important for me to give the engineers accurate feedback in practice, so we can get it right for the race. Every session is an opportunity to learn. Be sure to catch updates on the No. 14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet on social and the NBC broadcasts Saturday and Sunday!”

 Kellett wheels the No. 14 at Road America.

Doubleheader at Mid-Ohio: Although the Indy Lights Series has run doubleheaders at Mid-Ohio, this year is the first time that the NTT INDYCAR Series has as a result the rescheduling due to the pandemic. The races have been shortened from 90-laps to 75 laps each. 

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be broadcast live on the NBC family of networks. Saturday’s race will be broadcast on NBCSN with coverage starting at 4:30 p.m. ET. Sunday’s race will be broadcast on NBC starting at 1 p.m. ET.

Race Report: Race 2 – Bommarito Automotive Group 500

August 30, 2020

MADISON, Ill. — “Whatever happens, let’s enjoy this day. Love you guys!” radioed Tony Kanaan to his Big Machine Vodka crew on the parade lap of Race 2 of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.

This final race of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES for Kanaan did not have a Hollywood ending. Track position at World Wide Technology Raceway was key for most of the field with a few exceptions.

In the first segment of the 200-lapper both Kanaan and his teammate Charlie Kimball in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet were reporting understeer in their cars. The crews dialed in front wing on the first round of pit stops but the understeer persisted.

Kanaan’s crew posted solid stops all race long.

Passing was tough as Kanaan could not get around Zach Veach and lost half a lap over the course of the next 35 laps before finally pitting on lap 43.  With that loss of track position to the leaders, it wasn’t long before leader Pato O’Ward was on Kanaan’s bumper trying to put him a lap down.  However, Kanaan was able to stave off the leader for over 30 laps before pitting a second time on lap 96.

Appearing to lead the pack, Kanaan staved off leader O’Ward. (INDYCAR Photo)

Kimball was running a slightly different fuel strategy running to the end of his fuel window and his first stop came on lap 56 when he took a whole turn of front wing compared to Kanaan’s half turn. Before his second stop on lap 111, Kimball cycled up as high as fourth on the scoring tower but it was short-lived.

The Tresiba crew executed their pit stops well this weekend.

Interestingly, on the final round of stops, Kimball pitted just four laps later than Kanaan and that combined with his crew sending him off in 6.5 seconds, allowed him to jump ahead of Kanaan. They finished 18th and 19th respectively. On the cool down laps both drivers thanked their crews for great stops all of which were under green. 

Other than starting the first lap under caution to blow off the oil dry for an earlier issue on the track, the sole yellow came out with four laps to go when pole winner Takuma Sato ran high while running seventh and brushed the Turn 2 wall; he was able to continue. 

Josef Newgarden took the checkered flag under caution, as like at Indy, there wasn’t enough time left in the race to sort out the field and restart the race. Second through fifth were O’Ward, Will Power, Rinus Veekay and Scott Dixon.

“Track position was everything,” Kanaan said after climbing out of the No. 14 Chevy. “We had a pretty decent start, moved up a little bit but honestly, I think it was a pretty boring race–but it was a boring race for everyone. Mixed feelings on my last one. I wish I could have given the boys and A.J. and Big Machine a better result but the rest of the day was fun. It was a good way to end it. I want to thank my fans, my team and everyone who has been involved in this journey, my family. It’s been good. I’m done for this year but hopefully not done totally but we’ll see. My fingers are crossed that maybe I could come back for a proper last lap with my fans but for now, drop the mic.”

Kimball offers a fist bump to TK before the start of the race.

Kimball, who started 21st, summed up his race saying, “Well kind of a tough day for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet car. We started 21st, kind of ran around there, made a couple of passes at the start and then settled into our pace. I think everyone was really struggling with passing. There wasn’t a whole lot of overtaking but I know my guys in pit lane got me at least two spots that I know of, so big ups to them as normal. They did a great job in pit lane and we’ll learn from this and move forward.”

Prior to the start of the race, team president Larry Foyt organized the entire team to pay their respects to Kanaan on the grid and what followed were a parade of emotional hugs as each crew member wished him the best. Kanaan was visibly moved by the gesture.

Foyt hugs TK as Scott Harner awaits to in line prior to the race.

Foyt said of the afternoon, “Race 2 wasn’t what we wanted, but unfortunately it was a true track position race. Starting near the back, it was next to impossible to get toward the front where we wanted to be. Both teams were great in the pits all weekend and the drivers drove hard, but we couldn’t improve as much as race 1. It was emotional near the start as the team thanked Tony and sent him off for what may be his last race in INDYCAR. I hope it isn’t, but we will see. I have enjoyed being a part of his career and whatever his future holds, I wish him all the best and much success.”

Race Report: Bommarito Automotive Group 500-Race 1

MADISON, Ill.— “Today was an emotional day for me,” said Tony Kanaan after registering his best finish of the season at World Wide Technology Raceway where he posted his best finish last season. It was also the first track to host fans following last week’s Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan finished ninth in Race 1 of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 his penultimate race of 2020, a season in which he ran only the oval tracks in the NTT INDYCAR Series.

Starting 21st in the No. 14 Big Machine Vodka Chevrolet, Kanaan vaulted into the top-10 when a timely caution at the start played into the team’s alternate pit strategy. However, that call was possible because Kanaan avoided the carnage as the field came down for the green.

Six cars were involved in that dustup including Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud, triggered by rookie Oliver Askew punting Pagenaud into Rossi. Veterans Ed Carpenter and Marco Andretti were also involved as was rookie Alex Palou.

Kanaan, and teammate Charlie Kimball, who started 18th in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet, both pitted during that early caution, were running 13th and 14th by lap 20 of the 200-lap race. 

The 14 crew was on their game with pitstops today.

The turning point for both cars was the caution on lap 108 for the sprinkle of rain drops. They hadn’t pitted yet so they were running seventh and eighth when the yellow came out, which put them a lap ahead of seven cars who had pitted earlier.

Track position was very important because it is so much more difficult to pass due to the increased turbulence generated by the addition of the aeroscreen this year.

During the pit stop cycles, Kanaan pitted from second place on lap 163 while Kimball jumped into second place, which he held for nine laps until he pitted on lap 172. Kanaan dropped to ninth, and Kimball to 13th when the pit stops cycled out.

The 4 crew was strong on pit stops all race long.

Meanwhile the battle up front was heating up. Takuma Sato led for 14 laps before pitting on lap 175 which gave the lead to Scott Dixon who held on to win his 50th despite a hard-charging Sato who eventually placed second. Rounding out the top five were Pato O’Ward, who had led for 94 laps, Colton Herta and Marcus Ericsson.

Kanaan discusses the race with his race engineer Mike Colliver.

Kanaan, whose best finish this season previous to today was 10th at the season opener in Texas, said, “Very good result for us. Best result for the team this year. Obviously this place, I had a podium here last year. We have one more tomorrow. Awesome, awesome result. The guys had good pitstops. Thanks to Big Machine Vodka for the help and nice to see some fans in the stands too. Emotional day for me — one more day, so I’ll see if I can sleep tonight. Good day for us.”

 Kimball chats with Larry Foyt and race engineer Mike Pawlowski post race.

 Kimball, who finished 13th in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet for his second-best finish at this track, said, “I feel pretty good about the race for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet. Went off strategy early, it paid off with the yellow for the little bit of rain, got some track position and was able to hold that track position. On that last stop, the 14 and the 4, we kind of split strategies so it felt really good to see them come in the top 10. We didn’t quite get the top 10 that was there but had the yellow fallen right, we’d have had a really good result. Great strategy, great pitstops all day long. We’ll figure out how to make the car better overnight and do it again tomorrow.”

The second race of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will be broadcast on NBCSN tomorrow starting at 3 p.m. ET.

Notes & Quotes: Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway

The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway was originally scheduled to be run on a Saturday night but now two 200-lap races will be run Saturday and Sunday during the day. Charlie Kimball will drive the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet while Tony Kanaan will be in the No. 14 Big Machine Vodka Chevrolet as his Last Lap Tour winds down this season. 

TONY KANAAN ON:

World Wide Technology Raceway: “I’m excited to return to St. Louis this weekend after our podium there last year. The promoters at World Wide Technology Raceway have done a terrific job working with the local authorities to provide a race where fans could go and have an opportunity for entertainment in a safe and socially distanced environment and I’m really looking forward to seeing them at the track. When I announced the TK Last Lap in January of this year no one had an idea of what 2020 had in store for us, so being able to have fans at these last two races of my season is really special for me. I want to put on a good show for them and for the fans at home as well.”

 Big Machine Vodka sponsoring him at WWT Raceway: “It’s a neat story because when you talk about relationships, it’s always obviously business but when you can mix business with friendship — and have a pretty cool thing like this going — it becomes something we will talk about for years to come. It’s not just a business transaction, it’s a bunch of friends that wanted to help. We had a cool idea that we’d been brewing since last September which is when we came up with the #TKLastLap. Some things have changed a bit, but their deal is solid and they’re still around. And they said they will still be around as long as I race. And that is awesome.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL ON:

World Wide Technology Raceway: “After learning a lot in a very different looking

Indy 500, I am excited to get back on track at WWT Raceway for two races! AJ Foyt Racing had a great podium last year on the outskirts of St. Louis and we have high hopes for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet for this weekend.”

The impact of racing in the day versus the night: “While the track is lit really well since they repaved it, the asphalt is really dark so being there in the day will be interesting. We’ve practiced and qualified during the day, but we’ve never done an afternoon race. I think it’ll change how the track evolves over the course of the afternoon. Running in the middle of the afternoon versus late afternoon, I think the temperature will be pretty stable. But being a little warmer when the rubber goes down, it’ll get a little greasier, be a little more of a handful. With that darkness in the asphalt and at night, some of the bumps flatten out visually and you almost can’t see some of the ripples that are in the paving, but during the day you can pick it up. Hopefully being able to see those will help with where you need to put the car and be ready for them based on setup.”

The difficulty of passing this season: “Part of it is the added weight of the aeroscreen, but also the aerodynamic effect of the aeroscreen which produces more drag because there is more surface area pushing through the air. I also think the flow of air off the back of the car is dirtier. So when you’re behind it, you may get a larger tow or vacuum effect up to the car in front, but when you get closer, it’s more turbulent so you don’t have the downforce to stay close to take advantage of the tow to make that pass into the next corner. 

“Gateway is hard because typically the passes happen going into Turn 1, you have to run close through 3 and 4, and maybe the car ahead doesn’t have as good a run  through 3 and 4, you come with momentum, hang on right at the exit, and then beat them to the bottom and steal the bottom into 1. You pass from in front rather than behind—where they make a mistake in front, and you’re ready to take advantage of the momentum shift, rather than driving up and around them.”

Putting a premium on qualifying: “It does. We have just an hour of practice which is hardly enough track time. We expect to get one validation change—ride height and aero balance, and then maybe one or two setup developments. But going into tonight after practice, I really want to just be comfortable knowing what I’ve got going into qualifying. With qualifying being at 11 a.m., it may be an advantage for us to be going earlier in the qualifying order, because the track may continue to warm up as we go through qualifying. It will rubber up for sure, which is always an advantage to go later, but with the heat and the rising track temperature, it may negate some of that benefit.”

Goal for the weekend: “It’s the same as it is for every weekend: start up front, stay up front and win. Looking at the pit stop reports from Indy, Texas, Iowa and Road America, I have so much confidence in this team and our progress all year. It’s been amazing. While the results in Iowa were disappointing, we learned a whole lot about the short oval car. Within the dampers and mechanical setup of the car, we’ve learned enough to make progress for this weekend.”

Last race: Tony Kanaan started 23rd in the Indianapolis 500 and climbed into the top 10 before having to back off and conserve fuel on the final stint of the race to avoid a ‘splash and go’ in the pits. Charlie Kimball started 29th and finished 18th in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet at Indianapolis. Initially using an alternative pit strategy, Kanaan vaulted to fourth in the early stages of the race and stayed in the top 10 when the leaders pitted. However, two consecutive yellow flags near the midpoint of the race effectively put everyone on the same strategy which didn’t work in Kimball’s favor.

Past Performance at WWT Raceway: Tony Kanaan’s best start is 3rd (1998 and 2003). His best finish of 2nd also came in 2003 with Andretti-Green Racing. Last year he started 20th and finished 3rd. Charlie Kimball’s best start is 17th (2018) and his best finish is 7th (2017). The Foyt team’s best start is 8th (2017 –  Carlos Munoz) and its best finish is 3rd (2019 – Kanaan).

Qualifying Format: One qualifying session will determine the grids for the 200-lap races (shortened from the traditional 248-lap race). Lap 1 of the run will determine the grid for Race 1 while Lap 2 will determine the grid for Race 2. 

The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Race 1 and Race 2 will be broadcast Saturday and Sunday respectively on NBCSN starting at 3 p.m. ET. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice and qualifying sessions will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold and on Indycar.com. The races are broadcast live on the INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 211, XM 205, IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR mobile app. 

Big Machine Vodka Sponsors Kanaan’s Last Laps at WWT Raceway

INDIANAPOLIS— Sleek. Black. Fast. So describes the No. 14 Big Machine Vodka Chevrolet that Tony Kanaan will drive in his final two races of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES as his #TKLastLap tour on the oval tracks winds down.

Big Machine Vodka, a longtime sponsor of the 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion, will be the primary sponsor of the car.  The bold, bright chrome Big Machine logo makes this Black Beauty sparkle which fans will see in both Bommarito Automotive Group 500 races this weekend.

“Scott Borchetta and his brother Mark have been with me since 2014 and they’ve

always been solid, so to me, it’s an honor that we could make this deal work and have my last races of the year with their livery,” Kanaan said. 

Scott Borchetta, the music industry mogul who acquired Tenn South Distillery in 2015 and joined forces with Tenn South founder and Chief Distiller Clayton Cutler, also signed as an associate sponsor of Kanaan in this year’s Indy 500. 

“The name Tony Kanaan is synonymous with winning and that aligns with the essence, pride and result that we carry through all things Big Machine” says Big Machine Label Group President & CEO Scott Borchetta.  “We’re very proud to be representing Tony this weekend for TK’s Last Lap.”

As the Big Machine Vodka Chevrolet was getting some final tweaks in the race shop for this weekend, Kanaan looked on in admiration.

“The car looks awesome,” Kanaan remarked of the new livery, adding, “I think it would have looked even better if it were still a night race.” 

Originally the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 was scheduled to run on a Saturday night before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the rearrangement of this year’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule. One night race has now turned into two afternoon races which will be broadcast on NBCSN on Saturday and Sunday starting at 3 p.m. ET.

“I saw the design from day one and was part of it, so it’s kind of like having a child,” Kanaan revealed. “And when you see it ready, and then having the diecast of that car which just became available last week, it’s pretty cool. 

“It’s a neat story because when you talk about relationships, it’s always obviously business but when you can mix business with friendship — and have a pretty cool thing like this going — it becomes something we will talk about for years to come,” Kanaan continued. “It’s not just a business transaction, it’s a bunch of friends that wanted to help. We had a cool idea that we’ve been brewing since last September which is when we came up with the #TKLastLap. Some things have changed a bit, but their deal is solid and they’re still around. And they said they will still be around as long as I race. And that is awesome.”

Kanaan has run four races to date this year. He finished 10th at the season opener at Texas Motor Speedway in June. In July, he dropped out in Race 1 at Iowa and finished 11th in Race 2. He placed 19th in last week’s Indy 500 after having to conserve fuel in the final stint but had been running in the top-10 for second half of the race. 

This weekend Kanaan is looking forward to returning to World Wide Technology Raceway, the 1.25-mile oval located in Madison, Ill. which is east of St. Louis just across the Mississippi River. 

“I’m excited to return to St. Louis this weekend after our podium there last year,” said Kanaan, who finished third behind Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato. “The promoters at World Wide Technology Raceway have done a terrific job working with the local authorities to provide a race where fans could go and have an opportunity for entertainment in a safe and socially distanced environment and I’m really looking forward to see them at the track. When I announced the #TKLastLap in January of this year no one had an idea of what 2020 had in store for us, so being able to have fans at these last two races of my season is really special for me. I want to put on a good show for them and for the fans at home as well.”

Race Report: Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS—Against all odds the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is now in the books. But the 2020 edition of the world’s most famous race will be remembered as the Indy 500 run without spectators. The color and energy generated by over 350,000 fans in the grandstands of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was indeed missing…until the engines roared to life!

New owner Roger Penske gave the command, “Drivers, start your engines!” When 33 brightly colored cars roared into action, the energy of the race took over the historic venue.

Starting 29th, Charlie Kimball and his team used an alternate fuel strategy–pitting early with the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet. For the first two fuel stints, Kimball vaulted into the top 10 when the leaders pitted. However, back-to-back cautions (the first for his teammate and rookie Dalton Kellett’s crash on lap 83 followed by Conor Daly and Oliver Askew’s crash on the ensuing restart) saw the entire field pit during the 15-lap caution periods which nullified the alternate fuel strategy.

The No. 4 Tresiba crew was on their game today. 

Kellett’s crash occurred while he was trying to pass Ben Hanley in Turn 3. Hanley cut down on Kellett as they entered the turn and the move took the air off Kellett’s front wing. He slid up the track in the short chute and eventually made contact with the SAFER barrier and skidded through to the exit of 4. He wasn’t injured.

Kellett lead the pack into Turn 1. 

Tony Kanaan, who started 23rd in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet, was running in the top-15 by the time of Kimball’s second pitstop on lap 47. After Kanaan’s third pitstop, he climbed into the top 12 where he ran until the next stop came under caution on lap 123 for Alex Palou’s crash in Turn 1. Following quick pit work, ‘TK’ climbed to eighth for two laps before settling into ninth.

TK’s stops were quick all day.

Meanwhile Kimball, who struggled with his car during the middle stints of the race, had been enjoying fast pit stops all race long only to have the final stop slowed down when he stalled the car upon exiting the pitbox. He dropped from 15th to 22nd. He would climb back up to 18th.

In the final fuel stint, Kanaan had to drop off his pace because he wasn’t getting the fuel mileage he needed. By going slower, he avoided having to pit for a splash of fuel to make it to the end of the 200-lap race. He placed 19th.

Earlier, Kimball passed Kanaan as the 2013 Indy 500 winner went a lap down to leader Takuma Sato on lap 194. A lap later, Sato’s teammate Spencer Pigot had a violent crash when he spun in Turn 4, hit the outside SAFER barrier and ricocheted into the end of the pit wall barrier. Awake and alert, he was being evaluated at Methodist Hospital. 

The accident sealed the victory for Sato, who had been battling Scott Dixon during the final laps of the race. The race finished under caution. It is the second Indy 500 victory for Sato and he became one of only 20 drivers to have won the race more than once. He won his first 500 in 2017. Following Sato and Dixon under the double checkered flags was Sato’s teammate Graham Rahal. Santino Ferrucci finished fourth and Josef Newgarden took fifth.

Kanaan was deeply disappointed when he climbed out of his cockpit.

“I don’t know what to say,” Kanaan said. “We had a solid car, made a lot of positions on track and also in the pits. We went from 23rd all the way to 8th, I believe, but at the end I had to match a fuel number to make it to the checkered without a splash, and in order to do that I had to let a lot of cars go. I truly believe that we had a Top-10 car. We ran up there most of the race and it’s just disappointing that we had to settle for 19th.”

Like Kanaan, Kimball was disappointed with his finish.

“It was a tough fighting day for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet team,” Kimball said afterwards. “Starting in the back on the tenth row, we just had to pick our way through and we did. We were making forward progress. The car was quite a handful there in the middle of the race. We found something, we made it better, I think we were probably going to finish in the top 15, but it was such a track position race today. It was so hard to pass out there. The nice thing is the AJ Foyt Racing boys gave me a few spots in pit lane and then unfortunately I made a mistake in that last stop in pit lane and gave it all back, but they were great and I could always count on going forward when I was coming into pit lane so that’s a big positive out of today. We’ll go back and look at how we make the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet better when we come back here next year and also what we look to learn to carry into Gateway next weekend.” 

Commenting on the aeroscreen in hot conditions, Kimball said, “It was definitely a hot day, maybe not the hottest 500 that I’ve ever been a part of but at the same time I felt like the ventilation in the Stilo helmet with the forced air was really comfortable. Under yellow when the airflow slows down, you notice a little more so, you know, you could see some of the drivers, we were having our hands up to get some air into the cockpit, but at speed it was pretty comfortable. I didn’t have a big issue. Just kind of settled in to sweating our way through 500 miles.”

Kellett, who had impressed his team owner A.J. Foyt by not putting a wheel wrong through practice and qualifying, was disappointed by not being able to finish the 500 mile race.

“It’s obviously a different 500 experience without the fans, having the national anthem and flyover without the energy of our great race fans and it was bit sad to see that,” said Kellett, who hails from Canada.  But the start felt pretty good. I thought I was going to get the jump on Tony [Kanaan] and Will [Power] but they showed my rookie status and got the jump on me.  So now I know where to go next time. The car felt really good the first stint, we were just chipping away at it, working with the tools and dealing with a bit of understeer with the tailwind in Turn 2. The car felt really good in 3 and 4, making moves in traffic and was able to pass guys. On the second stint, the wind shifted a bit so I was getting a run out of 2 into 3 but got stuck behind Hanley who was running a bit off the pace. I kept trying to draft and get by him going into 3. I went pretty late and I didn’t know if his spotter didn’t let him know I was pretty low or he didn’t think I was going for it. I kind of popped and he came down almost immediately so I didn’t have time to back out of it and he skimmed my front wing and took all the air off it. After that I was just trying to save it and couldn’t quite get it turned enough to miss the wall. Pretty disappointed that was how it ended. We were having a really good month up to that point.”

“It was a disappointing race day for us,” Larry Foyt summed up. “It had been a decent couple of weeks, the cars were handling really well and the drivers were happy, but on race day, anything can happen. We had a tough qualifying and the Hondas did a really good job in qualifying so we were starting towards the back of the field and it’s just very tough to pass at Indy right now with all the turbulence. The guys were doing a good job and moving up, Tony was in the top ten and Charlie was in the top fifteen, and unfortunately Dalton had an accident. It just all unraveled late in the race on that last stint. Tony really struggled and Charlie stalled in the pits and that sealed our fate for the rest of the day. I think we learned a lot as a team, and overall, it was a good couple of weeks but we didn’t get the results we wanted. We’ll keep working at it and be back next year.”

Kellett returns to action in the No. 14 Chevrolet when the NTT INDYCAR Series stages a double header at the IMS road course Oct. 2-3. 

Kimball and Kanaan will compete next weekend in the doubleheader at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis. It will be Kanaan’s final drive in the No. 14 this year. Last year he posted a third place finish there—his best finish of the 2019 season. The Bommarito Auto Group 500 races will be broadcast on NBCSN August 29-30 starting at 3 p.m. ET each day.

Notes & Quotes: Indianapolis 500

August 20, 2020

INDIANAPOLISThis year marks the 65th anniversary of A.J. Foyt attending his first Indianapolis 500 as a fan in 1955 when he was 20 years old. Foyt had listened to the race on the radio for years along with his dad Tony. In 1956, A.J. competed in the midget races at 16th Street Speedway across from IMS and two years later at age 23, he was starting in his first Indy 500 as the youngest driver in the field. He was the fastest rookie but spun in his own oil on lap 148, finishing 16th. We asked him a few questions…

Q: What do you remember most about your rookie year at Indy in 1958?

A.J.: “The biggest thing I remember in 1958 is that a very good friend of mine Pat O’Connor lost his life on the first lap—about 10 or 15 cars were totaled out the first lap—Jerry Unser went over the wall. I spun down through it and lucky enough I didn’t hit anything. Then towards the end of the race a water hose broke and I spun in one. I remember a lot – I spun at both ends of the racetrack. They told you as a rookie that going down the backstretch you got the draft of the cars and you’ve got to be careful the first lap. They didn’t say nothing about everybody crashing in turn 3! I wasn’t prepared for that!”

Foyt, 23, was the youngest driver in the 1958 Indy 500.

Q: You’ve seen a lot of changes at the Speedway over the years. What are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen?

A.J.: “I think one of the biggest things is when they paved the front straightaway. I remember the first time I won it, the bricks were still on the front straightaway and it was very rough, very slick. So that was good when they changed that. I think the safest thing for the pit crew was to put up the pit wall separating the pits from the track [1957]. Then when they put up the SAFER barrier [the ‘soft walls’ began development in 1998 and were installed at IMS in 2002] but I never tested that—I tested the real walls. Every time they could make the racing safer at Indianapolis, they always did it.”

Q: From when you started, what is the most important safety improvement on the cars?

A.J.: “When I first started all the cars were front engine and you’d sit back where the gas tank was and you were carrying 75 gallons of fuel. Then you went to the rear-engine cars and when I was first driving them, you had fuel on both sides and in back of you. Then as they developed the rear engine cars to be safer, they cut down on the fuel you could carry and took the side tanks off. Now they just have the one tank behind the driver. Goodyear developed the fuel cell so between the two, it made it a lot safer because before when you had a crash, they’d catch fire. So they made it a lot safer by far.”

Q: Your driver Tony Kanaan billed this year as his ‘Last Lap Tour’ but he is making plans to return to Indy next year. You didn’t quit until you were 58 years old, what kept you coming back to this race?

A.J.: “I kept coming back because every time I got hurt, the media kept saying I couldn’t come back and I wanted to prove a point—yes I will be back. Coming back to Indy, the world knows the Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so if you win Indy, the world knows it. That’s one thing that kept me coming back. When I was a young kid, I always listened to it at my daddy’s shop on the radio. So to be fortunate to come up here and qualify for the race was one of the highlights in my life. Then to be lucky enough to win it [four times] and the championship [seven times], what else can you ask for in life? I had a wonderful life. I enjoyed Indy, and really, I never dreamed of this and I don’t think my parents ever dreamed of me going from the midget races in Houston, Texas to the Indianapolis 500. I know one day after I won it in 61, I was at my daddy’s shop and a lady came in and said ‘Tony, you won’t see the boy around here anymore.’ And he said, ‘Yeah? He’s down there working under the dashboard of a car.’ And she walked down and said, ‘I can’t believe you’re down here.’ So I told her, ‘My daddy needs help and I’m not too good to come back and work in this shop.’ I’ll never forget that.”

Foyt qualified for his 35th straight Indy 500 in 1992 and finished ninth in the race.

Q: What advice will you give to your rookie Dalton Kellett before he starts his first Indy 500?

A.J.: “Well try to finish the race and stay clean. It’s so much different today but that’s the biggest thing—keep your nose clean and get some experience.”

LARRY FOYT is the president of A.J. Foyt Racing which is fielding three cars in this year’s Indy 500. Following are his thoughts…

On the race: “I feel pretty good going into the 500 this year. Tony ‘s [Kanaan] been very happy with his car. We know that he knows how to run 500 miles here and get up front, so I’m really excited about that. We’ve been chasing a gremlin with Charlie’s car but we think we found it. So we’re looking forward to Carb Day and having a good practice and get him ready. He knows how to race here, so I’m sure he’ll move up quickly. Dalton’s done a really good job as a rookie, he’s gotten in a lot of laps. His goal as a rookie is to run 500 miles and get a good, solid top 10 for us. Really, it’s been a pretty good month for us. Qualifying didn’t go as well as we wanted it to but we saw that Honda did a really good job at the higher boost level, but Chevy looks really strong at race level in race practice. It’s a long race, 500 miles, so there’s no reason we can’t be up front at the end.”

Team president Larry Foyt is the race strategist for Charlie Kimball who drives the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet.

On empty grandstands: “It’s a little strange, different for sure. But it’s what we have to do right now. It’s still the Indy 500. I think for us—well I know my nerves were still there during qualifying. All that will be the same come race day. It’s gonna be strange without the fans but I hope we put a good shown on for everyone to watch on NBC and then get things back to normal for next year.”

TONY KANAAN will start 23rd in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Kanaan will start in his 19th straight Indy 500 and he has broadly hinted, despite his Last Lap Tour, that it won’t be his last 500. Following are his thoughts…

On this Indy 500: “We still have one more day as far as practice but I was actually pretty pleased with the car the way we finished Sunday. It was tough conditions out there. It was really windy and really hot so I think it was the worst – it can always get worse – but looking at the weather right now, it looks like it’s going to be better than that, so if the car felt good then, I’m pretty sure it will feel good on Sunday. 

“It’s going to be a tough race if you think about it. If you look at the grid a lot of experienced guys are in the back so maybe like in the beginning when people expect everybody to make big moves, I don’t think that’s happening because the field is pretty balanced out. You have experienced guys in the front with some rookies and then a lot of experienced guys in the back with some rookies, so it will be more of a patience race really. I don’t see people making huge moves even probably in the first half of the race. It’s a little bit hard to pass so people are going to be trying to take advantage of the yellows. Pit stops are going to be extremely important but I like my chances. I mean I’ll never enter a race not thinking I can’t win. Obviously, I have a lot of work to do starting back there but thing is I’m really happy with the car. Now what that’s going to do, we’ll find out.” 

On its being a strategy race or pure speed race: “In a race like this, everything plays out – everything. You cannot discard anything. You know, you can win with a strategy – look what happened with me in 2013. I went for a strategy, not pit stop strategy, but on the last yellow I said I want to take the lead, and that was not the race to take the lead with three laps to go. You didn’t want to lead the last lap because you saw how many passes (there were), but I don’t know…something told me that something could have happened because of those many passes and sure enough I banked and ended up winning that race. What about if I had waited? So to me, it will play a factor for sure but it’s not just strategy or just being fast – you’ve got to have it all.”

On the aeroscreen: “The biggest challenge for the drivers with the aeroscreen is that we don’t feel the wind anymore. When you are following a car, the proximity–how close you can get–you could tell by the buffering of your head. We don’t have that anymore. When you approach a car, and try to tell how close you can get, when you lift, we lost that feeling. It kind of became numb because you’re protected by the aeroscreen. We feel the safest we’ve ever been in a car but the way to judge the proximity of the other car is completely different and I don’t think I have that nailed yet.”

The aeroscreen eliminates the wind buffeting for the drivers which also proves challenging when trying to time their passes according to Kanaan.

On taking the green without fans at Indy: “I think the last weird part of not having fans is gonna happen on the parade lap because remember, we all acknowledge the fans every time and we’ll be waving to empty stands. Or we probably won’t even be waving because it will be ridiculous. And after that I think it’s going to be down to business as normal because when you have 400,000 people there, this is the last time you acknowledge them and that’s it. It’s sad – we talked about this already – but to have a race that was the price we had to pay.”

DALTON KELLETT, a rookie in this year’s Indy 500, will start 24th in the No. 41 K-Line USA Chevrolet—alongside of his teammate Kanaan. It will be Kellett’s first race IndyCar race on an oval. Following are his thoughts…

On his first Indianapolis 500: “We’re just a handful of days away from the Indy 500 and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the race is going to play out. As a rookie there’s been lots to learn and lots to get accustomed to jumping into the Indy car for my first oval race but we’ve had good track time and the Foyt team has given me a great car to get up to speed with and get used to everything. In practice things have been going quite well. Car feels solid in traffic and on Fast Friday and in qualifying I think that we showed we had pretty good straight line pace. Overall, I think looking ahead to the race I’m just excited and very thankful for the opportunity to be here, thankful for the chance from AJ Foyt Racing and K-Line Insulators USA, Liberty Coach Inc. for the support for this race. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m very excited to be here so I can’t wait to take the green flag on Sunday, August 23rd on NBC at 1:00PM (ET).

On his biggest challenge: “My biggest challenge is gonna be seeing how things play out in traffic during the race. The aeroscreen punches a big hole in the air and makes it relatively tough to follow closely behind. I think most passing is gonna happen earlier on and the stints are really capitalizing on fresh tires to make moves and work our way up the field.

On his goals: “Our goals for this race are going to be having a clean run, making it 500 miles and staying on the lead lap. I think if we keep that in mind with clean pit stops and playng it smart in traffic and with a strategy then if we’re on the lead lap in that last stint or two, we’ll be in a good shot for the finish and that’s how we’re approaching it.”

On what thrills him most about the race: “I think what I’m most excited for is taking the start three-wide. It will be a first experience for me. I’ve never done a three-wide start so that’s a classic Indianapolis 500 tradition and it’s going be very exciting and then you know, settling in and just hitting my marks and making sure that we’re precise. Managing traffic, well it’s going be challenges but it’s going to be really exciting. We’ll have lots of pits stops, lots of opportunities to make that car better so and just, I think, the process of seeing how we how move through the pack and position ourselves for a good shot at the finish is going to be a challenge but also the good fun of the day.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL will start 29th in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet in what will be his 10th Indy 500 but his first 500 driving for Foyt. Following are his thoughts…

On the race: “The Indianapolis 500 is still the biggest race in the world in my eyes and it would mean more than anything for me and my team to win on Sunday. This Indianapolis 500 event has looked and felt different than any of my previous nine. It is strange with the calendar being in August and it feels incomplete without the best racing fans in the world at the track, but the opportunity to win the greatest spectacle in racing and what that means from Drinking the milk to being forever enshrined in the Borg Warner trophy is forever unchanged. 

On losing out on track time last Sunday: “While losing out on any track time in the abbreviate practice schedule for this year’s Indy 500 isn’t ideal, I have complete confidence in not only the 4 crew but also the set up information from my teammates Tony Kanaan and Dalton Kellett. My team, the car, myself will be ready to take the green flag and the double checkered flag on Sunday for the 104th running of the Indy 500.”

Mike Pawlowski joined A.J. Foyt Racing as the race engineer for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet this year. It is his first year working with driver Charlie Kimball. The first race he saw was the 1982 Indianapolis 500 with his father, who’d gotten tickets from vendor Norton (a sponsor of Roger Penske’s) through his job at a machine shop. We asked him a few questions…

Q: How did you become interested in racing?

MP: “I got interested in racing in high school. I went to my first race at the Indy 500 in 1982 with my dad. I was 16 years old.

Q: Where did you grow up? Was your family involved in racing before you?

MP: “I grew up on the south side of Chicago in a suburb called Orland Park. No one else in my family was interested in racing.”

Q: What is your educational background?

MP: “My degree is a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois. My areas of concentration were vehicle dynamics and human factors (as they relate to design). I graduated in 1989.”

Q: What is your past racing experience?

MP: “My past racing experience include Formula Atlantic, SCCA production, Indy Lights, IMSA, Global RallyCross, Champ Car, and INDYCAR.  I have spent over 20 years in INDYCAR. I won three GRC championships with Scott Speed, but my greatest achievement is winning the championship with Paul Tracy in 2003 in Champ Car at Players/Forsythe Racing.

Q: What are the challenges facing race engineers this season with compressed schedules and how do you overcome them?

MP: “The challenge presented by reduced schedules is two-fold, one is setup and two is time management. You are forced to start the car setup-wise in its most competitive condition therefore you must have a good history of competitive setups. But you cannot choose long changes due to the limited track time. Therefore, you have to balance setup and time. It’s an interesting challenge forcing race engineers out of their comfort zone. I’m trying to overcome these challenges by thinking differently–not just how it was done in the past!”

Race engineer Mike Pawlowski gets feedback from his driver Charlie Kimball.

Q: Is it more difficult having to work with a new team and a new driver in this situation? What are the positives about working with Kimball?

MP: “I like working with a new team/driver during this pandemic. It allows me the freedom to ask,  ‘How can we do this better?’ without the history of ‘we’ve always done it this way.’ Charlie is good to work with because he understands the car’s limitations well. And he is able to communicate what he needs to go faster.”

Q: What are your goals for this season?

MP: “My goals are to improve every weekend and end up in the top ten in points in the championship.”

Charlie Kimball has shown speed at Indy this year.

Q: How did you spend your time during the lockdown?

MP: “I spent my lockdown cleaning my house and organizing my garage.”

Q: What hobbies/interests do you have outside of racing? 

MP: “My hobbies are golf, fishing, hanging out in my garage and spending time with my kids Elise and Zach.”

The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be run Sunday, August 23 and will be broadcast on NBC starting at 1 p.m. ET.

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