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AJ Foyt Racing continues to make progress with another solid test at Barber Motorsport Park

WALLER, Texas (Feb. 24, 2021)—The progress continues.

Sebastien Bourdais posted the quickest time in testing at Barber Motorsport Park yesterday as five teams for a total of 12 cars took to the permanent road course outside of Birmingham, Alabama.

Driving the No. 14 Chevrolet, Bourdais set the fastest time of laps posted without the extra boost in power of push-to-pass. In addition to Foyt, the teams testing were Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, Ed Carpenter Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Team Penske.

“We had a pretty good day yesterday at Barber,” said Bourdais. “We went through a lot of stuff, testing dampers and some concepts as far as platforms. Everybody’s starting to work pretty efficiently together, the atmosphere is good. The car was pretty quick right out of the box and I had a really good time. Very positive day. With Barber being the season opener, you want to be cautiously optimistic. I think we should have a good card to play and be in the mix, which is always encouraging, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Sebastien Bourdais (L) chats with ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean who is a rookie in INDYCAR this season. (INDYCAR Photo)

Ending up at the sharp point of the grid marked significant progress for the team which has noted that their permanent road course setups needed addressing. The addition of the four-time NTT INDYCAR Series champion driver has helped the engineering staff to define some of the problems.

Mike Colliver, who became the team’s technical director after hiring Justin Taylor to serve as race engineer on the 14 car for this season, said, “I think the test is just the continued development from some of the stuff we were doing at Road America last year. Charlie was pretty strong in Race 2 and Dalton was strong at Mid-Ohio for where his development is. We had a really good test at Barber in the fall with Sebastien, and some of that was combining what was done in the past, ideas that I brought, ideas that Mike Pawlowski (race engineer on the 4 car) had, and we combined things. We were pretty quick in the fall and we just came back with the same car. Covid and the compressed schedule has helped us catch up and gave us the time to have in-house development of some of the tools we could use to analyze and quantify things. Yesterday’s test was a good validation for some of those tools.”

Bourdais and Mike Colliver began working together in 2020. Here they are at St. Pete last fall where Bourdais posted his million dollar run in the race by finishing fourth and securing the team’s berth in the Leaders Circle. (Foyt Racing Photo)

Asked about the contributions that Bourdais has made to the program, Colliver was quick to point out, “He’s a huge help. Just his wealth of knowledge is a huge help from a couple standpoints. One, he understands mechanically what the car is doing and secondly, he gives the changes to the car a fair shot. He will go out and run six or seven laps, and maybe the first two laps it doesn’t feel great and maybe he’ll change something in his driving style or he’ll wait a little longer for the tire pressures to come up or do a click on the rear bar, whatever he needs to do. And then he comes in and tells you it either worked or didn’t and why. His analytical approach combined with his experience is really refreshing. He doesn’t get rattled, he’s very calm and meticulous in the car.

“But it is also the whole feel of the group, the engineering group is really working together well,” Colliver revealed. “Everybody is putting work in that shows up on both cars and really on Seb’s because of his driving ability. From the data guys, to the guys who are doing simulations, the junior engineers, Danielle’s (Cucchiaroni, performance engineer) knowledge, and Justin is doing a great job. Everybody is pulling in the same direction which is really cool.”

Rookie Dalton Kellett, in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet posted the 10th quickest time. Kellett had a slight miscue early on in practice which resulted in light contact with the tire barrier. He was back on track after some minor repairs. Kellett was just the first of many drivers to bring out red flags due to spins during the day long session.

Kellett listens to his teammates while awaiting his car’s repair. (INDYCAR Photo)

“We had a good test overall,” said Kellett, who ran eight races last year. “I’m encouraged by the gains we are making and I think we have a very solid car. It felt good to be back at Barber. I love the track but it can bite you! On my second run, I got loose on power in T13 and had an off. I caught the initial slide but then my trajectory was off and I was headed for the grass. I had some contact with the tire barrier and we were down for repairs. It was unfortunate to lose testing time that way, especially when the engineers had a full list of items to get through. The crew did a great job getting the #4 fixed and ready to go. We ran all afternoon and worked through most of the items on the list. We’re continuing to learn more about and refine our damper package and the overall balance was where it needs to be. I think we’re in a good spot for the season opener in April!”

When push-to-pass times were factored in, Kellett was ninth quickest while Bourdais, who only tested push-to-pass to make sure it worked, dropped to second, behind Rinus Veekay with Ed Carpenter Racing.

Kellett at speed on the picturesque road course at the end of the day. (INDYCAR Photo)

Team President Larry Foyt summed up, “It was a solid test day for the whole team. We had a lot of items to get through and I think we got good data on the majority of them. Seb had good speed in the 14 car all day which was nice. Dalton worked through an early incident to get back on track in the 4 car and get some good running in. It was certainly one of our best tests on a permanent road course which is encouraging for the season.”

The team has one more private test planned at Texas Motor Speedway at the end of March before the Open Test at Indianapolis in early April.

Note: All photos courtesy of INDYCAR PHOTOS except where noted.

AJ Foyt Racing Signs Charlie Kimball for the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy Grand Prix in May

WALLER, Texas (Feb. 11, 2021) — AJ Foyt Racing announced today that Charlie Kimball will be back in the cockpit for two races in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series. The 35-year-old Californian will pilot the team’s No. 11 Tresiba® Chevrolet in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30 after competing in the Indy Grand Prix on the IMS road course on May 15.

For the 13th consecutive season, Kimball will partner with his longtime sponsor, Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company, as part of the company’s Race with Insulin initiative. Tresiba® (insulin degludec injection) 100 U/mL, 200 U/mL is the insulin Charlie takes to manage his type 1 diabetes. Novo Nordisk has sponsored Kimball every year since his 2009 debut in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire Series. Kimball debuted in the NTT INDYCAR Series in 2011.

“I am excited to once again represent Novo Nordisk and the diabetes community and to join AJ Foyt Racing for the month of May,” Kimball said. “I have never run at Indianapolis without Novo Nordisk and to be able to return this year with the support of the legendary A.J. Foyt, Larry Foyt, and everyone at AJ Foyt Racing, will certainly be special.”

For the month of May, Kimball will be part of a three-car effort from the Texas-based team, partnering with Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 14 Chevrolet and Dalton Kellet in the No. 4 Chevrolet. Kimball ran the full 2020 season with Foyt and closed it out finishing eighth in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s awesome to have Charlie and Novo Nordisk back for the month of May,” said Larry Foyt, president of A.J. Foyt Racing. “They were both great to work with throughout the challenges of 2020, and I’m glad we can continue the program. Charlie is focused on producing great results, and we are working hard to put the best group together for success.”

n 155 races, Kimball has posted six podium (top-three) finishes, and an additional eight top-fives. He has finished in the top-10 (6ththrough 10th) 45 times and has led 163 laps.

“Over the last 13 years, Charlie Kimball and Race with Insulin have become an important part of Novo Nordisk,” said Chip Amrein, lifecycle management and connected care lead. “We are pleased to join AJ Foyt Racing for both the Indianapolis Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 this year and to continue supporting Charlie as an ambassador and inspiration within the diabetes community.”

Source: Team PR

Sebring Testing Yields Positive Results for A.J. Foyt Racing

The A.J. Foyt Racing set-up at Sebring International Raceway (Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing)

SEBRING, Fla. (Jan. 20)—AJ Foyt Racing began their 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season with positive results in their first test session of the year at Sebring International Raceway on Monday and Tuesday.

Four-time IndyCar Series champion Sebastien Bourdais, who will drive the No. 14 Chevrolet full-time this season, and sophomore driver Dalton Kellett, who will still be considered a rookie this year after nine starts last season, checked off all of the boxes in the team’s ambitious testing plan Monday and Tuesday.

Team President Larry Foyt was pleased with the two day session, noting, “It was a positive first test of 2021 for our team. We had a few new team members and everyone came together nicely. There were many items to get through from off season projects, so we turned a lot of laps and the drivers gave the engineers a great deal of data to sort through.”

Bourdais tested on Monday only but it was enough time to become familiar with his race engineer Justin Taylor who joined the team over the winter. Mike Colliver, who engineered Bourdais to a fourth place finish in St. Petersburg in October and guaranteed the team’s berth in the Leader’s Circle Club this year, is now the Technical Director overseeing both cars.

Asked about Taylor, Bourdais replied, “I think he is a brilliant guy. He’s done a lot of things, he’s very down to earth and easy to work with, so it’s a great addition on the timing stand. Mike (Colliver) has taken the role of technical director now and with Daniele (Cucchiaroni) as the super assistant–he is completely capable of being the race engineer–I think we’ve got a lot of smart guys and deep brains on the timing stand which is great. I very much look forward to working a bit closer with Justin and I think it’s going to be a great relationship.

A.J. Foyt Racing veteran Sebastien Bourdais getting ready for a test day at Sebring International Raceway (Photo Courtesy of INDYCAR – Chris Owens)

Kellett tested both days in the No. 4 K-Line insulators USA Chevrolet. He began working closely with race engineer Mike Pawlowski, whom he had met when the two men were at Andretti Autosport.

“Working with Mike was great,” the 27-year-old Canadian said. “We crossed paths briefly when I was at Andretti, but I don’t think he actually ever engineered on my car though – he left the (Indy) Lights program just as I was starting there – but we’ve been working well together. He’s a strong engineer that came up with a good plan and good ideas to test. I think with the changes in engineering such as bringing on Justin and having Alex (Diaz) as the assistant engineer on our car, it’s been a good working environment. With Mike Colliver overseeing everything, I think we’ve got a strong engineering platform this year for sure.”

When asked what the team accomplished, Bourdais explained, “We had some questions on dampers and part of the work had to do with damping philosophies. We did quite a few variations in that and it was good to be able to go through all of it. I think we did validate some of the things that we had question marks on, so it was pretty positive on those fronts. You always get the oddball run where you’re not sure what happened and what’s going on, but for the most part we did get pretty good reads and it’ll give us direction.”

Working with a four-time champion whose ability to set up a car is well known in the paddock, Kellett points out that he and Bourdais have similar expectations from the car in terms of setup.

Dalton Kellett’s No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet on track during a test at Sebring International Raceway (Photo Courtesy of INDYCAR – Chris Owens)

“I think we’ve had good communication and he’s been great to work with,” said Kellett, who was on the timing stand in St. Pete and listened to Bourdais’s feedback throughout the weekend. “I think when we look at our feedback (over this test session) for the most part like 95 percent of the time, we’re on the same page, so that’s always really good. When you work independently of each other, and then reconvene at the end of the day and compare notes, it seems like for the most part we’ve been saying the same thing, which is good for my confidence. It’s good for the engineers because they know that they have two drivers that they can develop along the same lines, same set of concepts, with the same process in mind, so you don’t have the 4 car on one idea and the 14 car doing something else, so we’ll be a little more collected I think.”

Kellett, whose speed was very competitive relative to the other teams testing over the two days (Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), compared his session at Sebring a year ago to this year.

“I think the biggest thing in comparing apples to apples with the two Sebring tests from last year, I think feeling all on top of the car. It clicks really fast now that I’ve got a year under my belt with this car. I don’t get into the car and have to adapt to speed and learn the tires and all that so I’m happy with that. Overall, I think it’s the confidence in knowing what the limit of the car is. That’s been a big improvement over the year.”

Both drivers expressed optimism about the season that lies ahead but before the NTT IndyCar Series opens, Bourdais will be on track with the JDC-Miller Motorsports team to compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month.

“I have a long history with endurance racing and the big classics in the racing world,” said Bourdais, who was born in Le Mans, France where the world’s premier endurance race, the 24 Hours of Lemans, is held. The 2016 GT class winner in that event, Bourdais has also been victorious in the American rendition in Florida, saying, “I was lucky enough to win Daytona, once overall (2014) and once in GT (2017), and at Sebring (overall in 2015), so those are fun races. They are races that every professional race car driver wants to put on his resume at some point.”

Indeed, his IndyCar team owner A.J. Foyt would agree as he was a two-time overall winner in the twice around the clock race at Daytona (‘83 and ’85) and also won the 12 Hours of Sebring (’85) with Bob Wollek, a multi-time champion in endurance racing.

Bourdais continued, “On top of that, we are fairly limited in the number of test days we have in IndyCar and sometimes you get to the start pf the season being a bit green and haven’t driven very much. When you get a 24 hour race with some pretty treacherous conditions under your belt before the IndyCar season starts, and the 12 hour race as well, so it’s never bad. There are definitely a lot of considerations that make it a plus for me to run this program and keep me sharp. Plus, I enjoy it!”

Bourdais and Kellett will test again next month at Barber Motorsports Park in preparation for the NTT INDYCAR Series season opener at the picturesque road course on April 11.

Kellett Joins A.J. Foyt Racing for full 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES campaign

WALLER, Texas (Dec. 15, 2020)—Canadian Dalton Kellett will drive A.J. Foyt’s No. 4 Chevrolet full-time in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series. K-Line Insulators USA returns as the primary sponsor, moving from the No. 14 to the No. 4 for the upcoming season.

The 27-year-old rookie drove for Foyt in eight races this year as driving duties behind the wheel of the No. 14 Chevrolet were shared throughout the 14-race season by three drivers: Kellett, Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais returns to drive the No. 14 Chevrolet full-time as announced earlier this year. 

“I couldn’t be more excited to be back with AJ Foyt Racing for the 2021 season,” said Kellett, who lives in Indianapolis. “Securing a full-time ride is a big boost heading into my sophomore year in INDYCAR. Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 in 2020, A.J., Larry, and the Foyt team continued to develop their car and elevate the program, while standing by their employees and partners. That’s the kind of team I’m proud to both race for and be a part of. Being paired with Sebastian will be a great opportunity to continue to learn from one of the most experienced veterans in the field. I can’t wait to get back on the track for off-season testing and back behind the wheel in 2021.”

Next year the NTT INDYCAR Series schedule features 17 races, including a doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway in early May and a new street course in Nashville, Tenn. in August.

Despite the challenges of Kellett’s rookie season taking place during a pandemic which sharply curtailed the normal track activity, he displayed a keen ability to stay focused and adapt, which factored into Foyt’s decision to retain Kellett for 2021.

“We are very happy to have Dalton back with the team and more importantly that he will be driving full-time,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “With the limited track time in 2020, it was a tough year to be a rookie, but he jumped in with a great attitude and adjusted to the Indy car quite well. He was getting quicker with each event and had a great test at Barber [Motorsports Park] recently. I think Dalton will truly benefit from having four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais there full-time.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how our team progresses in 2021.” 

The first scheduled team test will be in January at Sebring International Raceway in central Florida. The 2021 INDYCAR season gets underway on Sunday, March 7th in St. Petersburg, Fla.

(Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Race Report: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG—The AJ Foyt Racing team didn’t win the race today but after a really tough 2020 season, putting two cars in the top eight in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg felt as good as a win…and it paid more.

Sebastien Bourdais’s savvy drive to a fourth place finish insured the No. 14 Sexton Companies Chevrolet would be in the 2021 Leaders Circle which guarantees purse money that approaches nearly one million dollars for the top 22 entrants in the final NTT INDYCAR Series standings. Topping it off was Charlie Kimball’s eighth place finish in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet for his team’s best finish of the season.

“Well, what a race!” exclaimed Bourdais, who was visibly spent due to the incredibly hot weather — temperatures climbed to the high 80s. “I’m super happy for the 14 team, AJ Foyt Racing and Chevrolet. Those guys were on the cusp the whole time and we were fighting for a million dollars today. We had things under control and then it seemed to slip away. Finishing fourth in some pretty incredible situations there at the end with a car that was legitimately fast, I’m really happy that we could finish the season on a high like that. I’m looking forward to 2021.”

Qualifying seventh for the team’s best start of the year, the Lemans, France native found himself in a points battle for 22nd which meant battling the cars in 21st (Conor Daly) and 23rd (Marco Andretti). The team went with an alternate fuel strategy based on Andretti’s strategy.  At one point past halfway, race strategist Scott Harner told Bourdais who was in 15th that “We need two more positions” because Andretti, who started 23rd, had climbed into the top 10. 

Three cautions in the space of 10 laps altered the outcome dramatically as several of the leaders had to pit allowing Bourdais and Kimball to leapfrog into the top 10. Andretti and Takuma Sato came together on a lap 75 restart resulting in Andretti sustaining a cut tire which ended with his contact with the Turn 5 wall. The No. 14’s Leaders Circle spot was secured and Bourdais’s strong finish allowed the team to gain another position to finish 21st in the final entrant standings.

A light rain started falling with 20 laps to go but not enough to halt the race. Then the pace car radioed in to race control that it was short on fuel and had to pit several laps before the final restart. All of which added to the crazy mix of the 100 lapper slowed by six cautions for a total of 26 laps. The No. 14 team also lost a tire changer to overheating in the moments before their final pit stop but they were able to make a substitution and the pit stop went off without a hitch. The crewman received fluids and was back at the transporter helping the team to load up.

“Those races when it’s that hot, honestly, if it had been a full green [flag] race I don’t know how we would have made it,” Bourdais revealed afterwards. “It was just so hot and you had to force yourself to stay focused and not make mistakes in the braking, and mistakes period. It’s one of those races where you’re well-positioned at the end, you’ve got a top-five and everything’s happy, and you expend such an amount of energy to try and stay focused and not make mistakes. It’s not even like it’s enjoyable; you’re just dreading the mistake waiting for you in every braking zone and every corner. Definitely some pretty tense moments during that last race [stint] but just so happy for the guys that everything ended up the way it did.”

Kimball, who went with the leaders’ fuel strategy despite starting deep in the field, made the most of his No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet which improved over the course of the race.

“Well today the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was a success for AJ Foyt Racing,” said Kimball who also was drained from the high temperatures.” For us the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet coming from a not optimum qualifying in 20th all the way through to eighth, so much credit goes to the guys in pitlane—great pit stops. They’ve had great pit stops all year—they’re in the top 10 as far as the pit stop championship among all the teams in pitlane. So much credit to them, credit to the engineers here and at home working to make the car better and better.”

Kimball talks to race engineer Daniele Cucchiaroni after the race. Mike Pawlowski was home sick this weekend.

“Just had to put the laps in at the end,” Kimball continued. “Got a little tight a couple of times, banged off a few people but that’s street racing in INDYCAR. It’s nice to have a double top-10 to finish out 2020 which has been tough, strange and challenging in so many ways.”

A relieved Larry Foyt congratulated both of his crews for their efforts in keeping the cars in the Leaders Circle. Kimball’s eighth place saw the No. 4 car gain two positions to finish 18th in the standings.  

Team President Larry Foyt calls the race for Kimball with assistance from engineer Cucchiaroni (center) and support engineer Dwight Brown.

“What a great weekend to end a tough season,” said Foyt. “Obviously it was challenging for all the teams but we had a really solid weekend with the 14. Bourdais was pretty fast all weekend – practice, qualifying and the race. We went off strategy as we were in a fight for the Leaders Circle.

“Unfortunately, our fight wasn’t for the race win, so we had to take an alternative strategy to try to protect that situation with the Leaders Circle. It was pretty stressful as we were in it and then we were out and then we were back in it. And then to get a top-five finish in P4, Seb drove a great race. We definitely needed a good run with the 4 car and it was great to get a top 10. Charlie fought hard all day and just kept moving up. To have both cars in the top-10 gives us some great momentum for the offseason.”

 A.J. Foyt, who made just his third appearance at a race this year, was visibly happy after the race.

“When the race started we knew what we had to do,” said Foyt. “Even though we were running seventh at the start of the race, we committed to following Marco’s race strategy which meant pitting early when he pitted because we needed to stay ahead of him. We wanted to be sure we weren’t caught out by a yellow the way some of the leaders were towards the end of the race. It paid off.”

There’s a smile behind that mask! Foyt is on the stand alongside Kurt Westman of K-Air Leasing, a longtime partner of Foyt Racing. 

Speaking of Bourdais, Foyt continued, “Sebastien did a lot for us today and he’s working really well with our engineers and that’s the reason we wanted him in these last couple of races. It’s been a while since we had both cars finish in the top 10 so I’m really proud of my team. They did a great job today.”

Scott Dixon won his sixth NTT IndyCar Series title after finishing third today. His closest challenger was Josef Newgarden who won the race but finished second in the final standings. Pato O’Ward finished second in the race. Following Bourdais across the line was Ryan Hunter-Reay who rounded out the top five.

Bourdais will be testing next week at Barber Motorsports Park as the team starts on its 2021 season.

Race Report: INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR – Race 2

INDIANAPOLIS—Will Power made it a clean sweep for Team Penske winning the pole and Race 2 of the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course Saturday afternoon. Power never relinquished the lead in the caution less race. 

For AJ Foyt Racing, frustration was the word of the day—make that the weekend.

The team decided to split the fuel strategy among the three teammates. Sebastien Bourdais went with what turned out to be the most popular two pit stop strategy, opting to save fuel from the start of the 75-lap race. 

Bourdais moved from his 21st starting berth into 18th by lap 11 but he was never able to make much headway beyond that position. Problems on both pitstops cost him. However, he had saved enough fuel by his third stint, that he was able to recover a couple of positions he had lost on the last stop. He finished 18th.

“It was a pretty trying weekend,” Bourdais said. “It’s not where we want to be but it’s

just the beginning of the relationship. We’re hoping to build something and prepare as best as possible for next year. In some respects, we achieved that. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us but if it was easy, I may not be here. We have a lot to think about, a lot to go through and analyze and see what may explain what we’ve experienced this weekend. 

“Starting from where we started today makes things very difficult but we were on the right strategy with the two-stopper because everyone who had a halfway decent day was on the two stop strategy. Passing was once again extremely difficult. Just a shame we got caught up in some guys’ messes when they tangled and got back on track like Ericsson running off the track and making us lose a couple of positions. We never could recover from that because passing was so difficult. At the end of the day, live and learn. Everybody tried real hard; the mechanics did a great job throwing all the changes that we wanted to try at the car and that was quite a bit all weekend long. We’ll keep working at it and move forward.”

Dalton Kellett and Charlie Kimball did a three-stop strategy, pitting earlier than the two-stoppers and running full rich on all stints because saving fuel wasn’t a concern. 

Kimball leads Kellett through the esses.

Kellett and Bourdais started on the black primary tires while Kimball started on the used reds or alternate compound tires. 

Starting 24th, Kimball moved up to 17th in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet by lap nine. However, the switch to blacks on his first stop had him radioing in to strategist Larry Foyt, “Really struggling for grip on the blacks. Foyt told him “Hang in there. Just give us the best you can.”

Kimball did hang in there and one time he was hanging on after an aggressive move by Felix Rosenqvist in Turn 7 saw Kimball taking an escape route on the grass. Kimball went a lap down by the halfway mark, and was never in a position to gain his lap back. He finished 23rd. 

“Honestly, kind of a frustrating day,” Kimball said. “We made the decision

strategically to do something different than the 14 and something different than the 41. We started on used alternate Firestones. The pace just wasn’t great. The second stint on our first set of primes (tires) we just really struggled to find lap time, so from yesterday to today we seemed to have gotten a little outside the window. I don’t know if it was weather conditions, track conditions or just the tires we had left after using a little more on yesterday’s race but going for the three stop we had to make really good lap time and we struggled with a little bit during the second stint of the race. But at the end the lap times weren’t bad on the third and fourth stints. We just need to figure out how to make the car better in qualifying so we don’t have to throw Hail Marys.”

Kellett, who was in his final race for the team in 2020, was hoping his two new sets of the alternate compound tires would give him the speed he needed to employ the three stop strategy successfully. Unfortunately, he struggled on the reds and had issues with his brakes on a couple of occasions entering Turn 1. Kellett finished in 25th a lap down.

“Definitely not the way we wanted to end the season for the No. 41 K Line

Insulators USA crew,” Kellett lamented. “We thought we were looking pretty good going into the race with the two new sets of Firestone alternates (tires). When we went to sticker reds, we didn’t quite have the pace and it just seemed like the car couldn’t quite take the extra little bit of aggression to try to get that next few tenths out of it. Had a couple mistakes in (Turn) 1 trying to push the brakes out a little bit deeper but getting front lock up, so that really hurt us having to take the run off road there. At the end of the day we didn’t quite have the pace or the consistency to pull off the strategy that we were trying to go for which was a bummer for the team. I think we’ve worked really hard all season and we’ve definitely made improvements but obviously today showed there’s some work that we have to do. We have to sit down and think really hard over what’s been good about the changes that we’ve made so far and what hasn’t worked and come up with a plan from there.”

Following Will Power across the line were Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward.

The teams have a couple weekends off before heading to the season finale in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Oct. 23-25. The battle for the NTT INDYCAR Series title will be decided between reigning champion Newgarden and Scott Dixon who is the current point leader. Going into the finale, Dixon has a 32 point lead over Newgarden. However, the points will be doubled in the season finale which will make for some interesting outcomes. The race will be broadcast live on NBC on Sunday, Oct. 25 starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Race Report: INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR – Race 1

INDIANAPOLIS – It was quite a day for Roger Penske as he welcomed fans to his track for the first time and witnessed his team win Race 1 of the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR doubleheader. Josef Newgarden scored a dominant victory over the 25-car field on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

On the AJ Foyt Racing squad, Charlie Kimball made the most gains in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet with his 13th place finish after starting 23rd. Kimball ‘s savvy driving combined with smart strategy, three flawless pit stops plus some overnight tweaks to the setup earned him the ‘hard charger’ award.

“First and foremost, it’s great to have fans back here watching us race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Kimball said afterwards. “It seemed like it was a pretty awesome race from where I was sitting in the cockpit, looked like in some of the recaps there was some pretty great racing throughout the field. Big credit, huge credit actually, to the No. 4 team – those guys on pit lane, in all three stops, the strategy from the timing stand. You know at the end it was getting a little dicey, I think the 26 and I were on two different sets of tires coming down to the close, but we were able to hold him off for 13th all the way up from 23rd so felt like it was a really good day for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet. Big thanks to the AJ Foyt Racing crew for making the car better overnight from yesterday and we get to do it again tomorrow.”

Unfortunately, 4-time INDYCAR champion Sebastien Bourdais did not have as good a day in the No. 14 Sexton Companies Chevrolet. Starting 16th, Bourdais was holding his own in the first stint but he radioed in that his Push to Pass button didn’t work. Then there was a problem on the first pit stop which dropped him to 21st. Midway through the 85-lap race he went a lap down which sealed his fate in the race that went wire to wire without a full course caution. He finished 21st.

Despite the disappointing day in the cockpit for Bourdais, he was quite realistic in

his approach to the weekend because he and the team were still “getting to know” one another. Having to do that in just one 75-minute practice session is a tall order, especially at the end of a season against the strong contingent of competitors in the NTT INDYCAR Series.

“It was a non-race really, tried to do whatever I could,” said Bourdais. “At the start, it was a tough spot because basically I ended up being right behind Dixie [current point leader Scott Dixon] and didn’t feel like I wanted to be there and take any chances [of taking him out] and because of that I just lost a bunch of positions. Then we kind of hung in there for a while but tire degradation for us was quite high. Just not using the tires right, we don’t have the balance – so we’re really struggling. The whole race was a bit of a struggle. It didn’t get any better or worse, it just kind of stayed where it was and I never found anything that seemed to dig us out of there. And it was tough because we didn’t have any push-to-pass, so defending was impossible. The second half of the race we were a lap down and trying to get out of the way of the guys on the lead lap fighting for positions. Our pace wasn’t good enough to challenge for anything. Unfortunately, we’ve got some work to do and we’ve to try to find something to give us a direction for the next time.”

Rookie Dalton Kellett also had a tough day in his No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet. Starting 25th, Kellett had a relatively good first stint but the two middle stints saw him struggle for speed on the used red (alternate compound) tires. He went down a lap to the leaders by lap 33. Of course, Newgarden set a torrid pace, lapping up to 15th place (including his own teammate Simon Pagenaud).  

The 27-year-old Canadian, who made his INDYCAR debut at this track in July, summarized his race after finishing 24th.  

“The first lesson I learned from the first race here was obviously to make sure to get packed up and ready for the start. I was quite close to Sato in front of us, but it’s

just the way it goes with the accordion effect, everyone’s leaving a big gap so I got kind of hung out to dry off the start but we were there by Turn 4 with the rest of the pack. I was just being smart and sensible, trying to make smart moves. The pace in the first stint seemed relatively good. We were keeping with some guys making passes so I was happy with that. Lost a bit of time as we were merging into traffic and trying to find a spot on track so kind of cycled back there.

“The scuffed reds weren’t really kind to us, we didn’t have a good middle two stints on the black and reds so we lost pace there so that was kind of the story of it. Then as we were pitting out for our last two stints, we were coming out into leader traffic and that always costs you a lot of time as you’re trying not to impede others while being cognizant of your own race, so that was a bit of a bummer. I think we’ve got some good data from today between the three cars and Charlie was obviously much happier with his car so we’ll see what they did and compare notes and see what we can do for tomorrow.”

Newgarden took the checkered 14 seconds ahead of runner-up Alexander Rossi and closed to within forty points of Scott Dixon who has been leading the point standings the entire season. Third through fifth were: rookie Rinus Veekay, Colton Herta and Felix Rosenqvist.

On Saturday morning the drivers qualify for Race 2 which will be 10 laps shorter than Friday’s 85-lapper. The race will be broadcast live on NBC starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Qualifying Report: INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR – Race 1

INDIANAPOLIS—Sebastien Bourdais returned to the cockpit of the No. 14 Sexton Companies Chevrolet for the first time since he tested for AJ Foyt Racing in February when the NTT INDYCAR Series returned to Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course for this weekend’s INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR.

The car was sponsored for this weekend’s doubleheader by Indianapolis-based Sexton Companies, a leading privately owned apartment development and management company with communities in Indiana, Ohio, and Louisiana. Sexton Companies has been an associate sponsor of the team since 2015.

Prior to getting into the cockpit, Bourdais said it would be important to manage expectations about the remaining races in 2020 given the challenge of stepping into the cockpit so late in the season. However, he relishes the opportunity to get a jumpstart on the 2021 season. In practice he was 22nd, slightly behind teammates Charlie Kimball and Dalton Kellett, who had his best practice run of the season (17th).

In qualifying, Bourdais’s session was cut short by Takuma Sato spinning into a gravel trap which brought out the red flag with about five minutes remaining. Bourdais was eighth at the time, and had not had a chance to run the quicker Firestone alternate tires — which the team believed would have improved his time. He will start 16th after posting a time of 1 minute, 10.9588 seconds for a speed of 123.739mph. 

“A challenging day just like we expected, maybe a bit harder than I wished it would

 have been,” Bourdais said afterwards. “Happy to be back in the game and getting to work with the AJ Foyt Racing crew. It’s a pretty steep battle. We were trying to do the best we can; the first run on blacks was pretty reasonable. Had a massive lockup with the rear going into Turn 1, which fell a bit on me, but still managed a good fourth lap so that put us in the window in the top group. And then we never got a read on the reds which is good and bad because we just don’t know what the car’s going to feel like on the Firestone red tires. Good because we have two sets of brand new tires to go in the race. We’ll see how it checks out.”

Driving the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet, Charlie Kimball went out in the second group of cars in qualifying as did teammate Dalton Kellett in the No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet. Their 12 minute session was run under entirely green flag conditions. 

Kimball will start 23rd after posting a lap of 1 minute, 10.7500 seconds at a speed of 124.105mph. Although quicker than the time set by Bourdais, Kimball will start behind him because the times are relative to the group in which they occur. Typically, the second group will post quicker times because the track is “rubbered in” providing more grip.

“It was just a really frustrating session for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevy,” Kimball said. “We had some really good pace, I think, earlier at times in practice, and even in qualifying, in similar laps to the competitors, we were a little more competitive in that fifth-sixth range or so. Overall, for me, on that last lap when everyone seemed to take a big step forward and we got stuck at a lap time, we need to figure out what’s going on with that because it seems to be a bit of a frustration we’ve had all year. I know these guys will be really good in pit lane on the pitstops tomorrow, that’s never a question in my mind. The A.J. Foyt crew works harder than anyone I’ve ever worked with, especially on the pit stops, so we’ll go forward in the race tomorrow and then re-evaluate what we need to do for qualifying on Saturday.”

Kellett will start 25th after posting his time of 1 minute, 11.7237 seconds and a speed of 122.420 mph. 

 “I don’t think we quite hit the nail on the head in qualifying,” said Kellett, adding, “just lacking a bit of rear stability, struggling a little bit and didn’t quite get everything out of the reds (Firestone tires). Unfortunate that we’re not starting further up the grid, but I think we definitely learned some stuff in practice and I think we’ve got a solid race car. We’ve consistently had better race pace than qualifying pace this year so we’ll be looking to make spots on track and in pit lane, make some smart moves, get some passes done early on. The No. 41 crew will be solid in pit lane so hopefully we can jump some spots and move up for the race. For Saturday’s qualifying we’ll be having a look at what Seb and Charlie were doing today and see if we can learn anything and if we can all get better as a team. I think there’s definitely some potential there so looking forward to seeing what we can learn.”

Scoring his first career pole, rookie Rinus Veekay will take the field to green after posting a time of 1 minute, 9.6903 seconds at a speed of 125.992mph. Second through fifth were Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Will Power and Marco Andretti.

Race 1 of the Harvest GP doubleheader will air tomorrow on the USA Network starting at 3:30 PM ET. Qualifying for Saturday’s race will be Saturday morning with the race being broadcast on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon.

Notes & Quotes: INDYCAR Harvest GP

SCOTT HARNER joined A.J. Foyt Racing in February 2019 after a 25-year tenure with Chip Ganassi Racing. A Hoosier born in Lafayette, Harner earned his Technical Degree at Ivy Tech. As the vice-president of operations, Harner has been charged with streamlining the running of the two shops which are based in Waller, Texas (team headquarters) and the satellite shop in Indianapolis. He is also the race strategist on the No. 14 Chevrolet, working with rookie Dalton Kellett and veterans Tony Kanaan and now Sebastien Bourdais. We asked him a few questions… 

Q: What was the first race you went to? 

SH: “First race was a Super Vee race in Detroit in 1985 which was with F1 cars, and I believe my first Indy car race was at Phoenix the same year. My first year at the Speedway was 1987 with RPM Motorsports and driver Ed Pimm.”

Q: Was your family involved in racing? 

SH: “My family really were not huge fans, we did always listen to the 500 on Memorial Day, either at the lake or cooking out. My best friend in high school was Tim Halsmer, whose older brother Pete drove Indy cars for years, and that was my first introduction to the Speedway in the early 80’s. We would skip school when we could and come down and watch practice. The Super Vee team that Pete drove for before he drove Indy cars, used the Halsmer family airport, just outside Lafayette, as their summer base, renting some hanger space to service the cars between races. Tim would work with them during the summer and I would help when I could after getting off of my normal job. At the end of the summer I was offered a job to move to California and work full time for the team. After racing Super Vee’s for a few seasons with a few different teams on the west coast, I decided I wanted to get back to Indy and had an opportunity to work for John Menard’s Buick IndyCar program and jumped at the chance to get back closer to home.”

Q: Did you think you would have a career in INDYCAR racing? Was it a goal for you?

SH: “In the beginning, when you’re 19 years old, I just knew I wanted to somehow be a part of this but wasn’t sure how it would all work out, so I just stayed with it, met some great people along the way that have helped me learn, grow and been lucky enough to have a great career that I really don’t consider work.”

Harner gives a hug to close friend Tony Kanaan prior to his announced “last race” at Gateway this year.

Q: Why did you want to come to AJ Foyt Racing? Have you achieved the goals you set for yourself when you joined this team?

SH: “When I first had the opportunity to sit down with Larry and see his desire to make the organization better and move things forward, I felt like I could help him do that. We have a ways to go, but I believe we have made some small gains and are working hard to get the pieces in place so A.J. can see his team perform the way I know he wants it to.”

Q: How do you handle having the team operate out of two different locations?

SH: “Operating the organization from two locations makes some things more difficult, but we manage through that working at it from both ends.”

Q: How will the addition of Sebastien Bourdais to the team help as you finish out the season?

SH: “As with everything else in 2020, our plan for the program was derailed at St Pete. When we couldn’t have Seb in the car, with his experience, to help us validate the off season work and see where we truly were with the engineering changes made in the off season. We have shown a few signs of improvement, but have lacked any real consistency to make us feel we are on the right track. Hopefully between the 2 races this weekend and St Pete to finish the season, we will have a good idea where we need to focus this upcoming short off season, so 2021 can be a real turn around for everyone here at AJ Foyt Racing.”

Q: A normal INDYCAR season would have been over by now. What do you expect the differences and challenges with racing in Indianapolis in October? 

SH: “Especially with the forecast, it’s definitely going to be the cooler temps. They are forecasting highs in the 50’s so tire temps will for sure be an issue and make keeping temps up will be a must.”

Q: Back to three teams for this weekend’s doubleheader – what’s involved in hiring a third crew? 

SH: “Deciding to run a third car is always a challenge, especially this year with all of motorsports trying to run every weekend, it makes getting the personnel together that much harder. We have been lucky that a few of the guys from our third Indy 500 group were available and have them back in place. We recruited a few new guys to our program that have worked with people we know and trust, and I believe that they will do a great job for Dalton.”

Q: Some people have asked about a reverse layout for the course to change things up. Your thoughts?? 

SH: “The reverse course idea would take some thought with the safety side depending on run-off areas etc., but anytime you can run at IMS is a good weekend!!”

Q: How do you spend your spare time?

SH: “My wife Christina and I adopt rescue cats. We currently have three: ‘Waylon Jennings’, ‘Dixon’ and our newest addition is a kitten named ‘Cecil’. I also like to ride my Harley.”

Waylon is one of three rescue cats adopted by the Harners. 

Sebastien Bourdais makes his AJ Foyt Racing debut in competition this weekend driving the No. 14 Chevrolet. Bourdais tested for the team in February at the INDYCAR Open Test at Circuit of the Americas and in a private test at Sebring.  

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It’s time finally to

get that 2020 INDYCAR season started for us. It’s been a long time coming but really happy to finally get this show on the road and see what we’ve got. Obviously, there was a lot of anticipation at the beginning of the year and many months have gone by and many races, so we’re not taking it the easy way by getting in the seat at the tail end of the season. There’s a lot of things to learn for me with the team, the team to validate a few things that they think they need answers on for this season and, more importantly, the next. I’m very much looking forward to the Indy GP. It’s a track that I’ve had good success on and very much enjoyed the layout, but it’s not going to be easy because we’re jumping straight into the thick of it: one practice, then qualify, race, qualify, race. Hopefully we hit the ground running with a happy setup and can have a good weekend. If that’s not the case, we’ll dig deep and learn a few things and see what we get results-wise.”

DALTON KELLETT (No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet): “It’s come down

to the last race of the season (for me anyway)! This first year in IndyCar has been fast-paced and full of unknowns, so I am looking forward to returning to a track that I have experience at. Compared to the heat of July, the cooler temps this weekend will be refreshing. Who knows? It might even get a little chilly in the car! We made good strides at Mid-Ohio and the car had better pace than our results showed. If we continue on that path and put everything together, we will have a good shot at a solid finish for the #41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevy. That’s the approach to this event. I’m also looking forward to the chance to work with Sebastien. His experience and insight will be a great asset to the program.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet): “Anytime you get to race at the

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s a good time! And getting both a doubleheader on the Indianapolis road course plus the fall weather that has descended on Indy means that it will live up to its Harvest Grand Prix name. Partnering with both Dalton Kellett and Sebastien Bourdais means we’re all focused on a great result for AJ Foyt Racing this weekend.”

Past Performance: In past Indy Grands Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, Bourdais’s best start is third (2018) and his best finish is fourth which he did three times (2014, 2015, 2018). Kimball’s best start is second (2016) and his best finish is fifth which he did in three straight races (2014-16). Kellett’s only start in the GP was his first NTT INDYCAR Series start in 2020 when he started 26th and finished 21st.

Last Race: At Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Kellett and Kimball fared slightly better in the second race of the doubleheader. Kimball placed 19th after starting 23rd and Kellett finished 21st after starting 20th.

The Harvest Grand Prix Race 1 will be broadcast live on the USA Network starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 2. Race 2 will be broadcast live on NBC starting at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 3. The races will also be available on NBC Sports Gold and INDYCAR Radio.

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.

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