INDIANAPOLIS– The historic weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on America’s most historic weekend of the year holds a few “first times” for the motorsports community and, in particular, AJ Foyt Racing.
First of First Times: The NTT INDYCAR Series and NASCAR Cup Series race at the same track on the same weekend. New track owner Roger Penske and his team worked with NASCAR officials to reschedule the GMR Grand Prix when it had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A.J. Foyt: “I think having INDYCAR and NASCAR run on the same weekend could be a benefit to both series. I think it might draw some INDYCAR fans to NASCAR and NASCAR fans to INDYCAR.”
Larry Foyt: “Great opportunity for race fans to have INDYCAR and NASCAR together. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, race fans can’t see them together up close, but it should still be a great weekend of racing on NBC-TV. Fantastic job by Roger Penske, INDYCAR and NASCAR to make this happen, and hopefully this is just the beginning of more crossover events for fans and our teams. We have had a great deal of history in NASCAR and I’m looking forward to sharing the track with them this weekend.”
Note: Larry and A.J. are two of 18 race drivers who have competed in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400. And they are the only two drivers who are related to have done so. A.J., the 1972 Daytona 500 winner, competed in the inaugural race at the Brickyard in 1994 after retiring at the Speedway from driving Indy cars in 1993.
First Time A.J. Foyt will miss the GMR Grand Prix at Indy:
Foyt chose to stay home this weekend and will watch the GP at home. Foyt plans to make the Indy 500 the first race he will attend this year.
First Time a race at Indy is held without fans: The races during the “Crossover” weekend will be limited to essential personnel only. However, the Indianapolis 500 is planned to run with a 50% attendance limit to maintain social distancing in the grandstands.
First time Charlie Kimball competes for Foyt Racing on a road course: Kimball, who ran a part-time schedule last year, and did not compete in the 2019 GP at Indy, returns to full-time status this year in the No. 4 Chevrolet which will carry the Tresiba livery this weekend.
Charlie Kimball: “While the GMR Grand Prix usually kicks off the Month of May, this year’s race is just as exciting as INDYCAR and NASCAR come together to celebrate the July 4th weekend with a historic doubleheader. I’ve had great results on the IMS road course in the past and can’t wait to get on track for my first road course in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing! The opportunity to race for A.J. is always special – it means even more when it’s at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!”
In five Indy GP starts, Kimball has finished fifth three times (2014 – 2016) and started on the front row (2nd) in 2016 for his best start in the race. Kimball’s career totals to date are 142 starts with one win (2013 Mid-Ohio); one pole (2017 Texas), six podiums, 14 top-5s and 57 top-10s. He has led 163 laps to date.
First TimeDalton Kellett will compete in an INDYCAR race: Kellett makes his NTT INDYCAR Series debut this weekend in the No. 14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet. He is one of four rookies competing in the race. Kellett’s initial test with A.J. Foyt Racing at the Circuit of the Americas was hampered by inclement weather resulting in just 20 laps on a day that was split with No. 14 teammate Sebastien Bourdais. Kellett did get one full day of testing at Sebring Raceway in early March. However, Kellett is familiar with the road course at IMS having run four doubleheaders there in his Indy Lights career where his best finish was sixth (2018).
Dalton Kellett: “I’m excited to get my season underway at the GMR Grand Prix. I couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to make my debut in the K-Line Insulators USA No. 14 Chevrolet! With the long delay to the start of my season, it will be important to maximize all available track time. Especially given the condensed schedule. As a rookie, I expect there to be obstacles to overcome and new challenges to face. I am confident in the team we have put together to take these on. The goal is to perform well and learn the most that I can in my rookie event.”
A.J. Foyt was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Rose Mattioli on June 29th at the age of 92. She and her husband Doc Mattioli built and owned Pocono Raceway where A.J. Foyt holds the record for most INDYCAR victories with four in 18 starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
A.J. Foyt: “I’m really sad to hear about Dr. Rose Mattioli. She and Doc [Mattioli] were great friends with Mother and Daddy and they were always great to me when I came up there. It’s been a couple years since I saw her at Pocono , but we had fun catching up. It’s hard to lose friends like that because you don’t have that many good friends in a lifetime.”
The GMR Grand Prix will be broadcast live on NBC on Saturday, July 4th starting at 12 noon ET. Qualifying will be broadcast on NBCSN Friday at 4:30 pm ET. The preceding 90-minute practice on Friday can be viewed on Indycar.com and the INDYCAR mobile app. The race will be broadcast on these radio affiliates: Sirius 211 and XM 205.
INDIANAPOLIS – Dalton Kellett is ready. The personable young Canadian has been ready to make his debut in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES since the deal with AJ Foyt Racing was inked back in December. His dream will become a reality at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he will drive the No. 14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet in the GMR Grand Prix July 3-4. That weekend will also mark the first time a track has hosted both the INDYCAR Series and the NASCAR Cup Series.
In addition to the Indy GP, Kellett is scheduled to drive at Road America, Mid-Ohio, Laguna Seca and IMS in the fall. He plans to compete in his first Indianapolis 500 in August.
“I am very fortunate to have the support of K-Line Insulators USA,” Kellett said of the sponsor that has been with him since his Road to Indy days. “I look forward to representing them on-track this year and especially at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in August.”
Kellett knew he had to wait for his start in America’s premier open wheel series because the original plan called for 4-time INDYCAR champion Sebastien Bourdais to run the first three road/street course events. Scheduled to race April 26 at Circuit of the Americas, the rookie’s wait increased by 10 more weeks due to the pandemic. However, he did debut his K-Line Insulators USA livery in the INDYCAR iRacing Series (cover picture) which ran a six-race series to keep fans engaged during the hiatus.
“I think there is no way around it, with the condensed schedules, this year will be tough for us rookies,” said Kellett, who hasn’t sat in an Indy car since testing early March. “It’s fortunate that I’ve raced at all of the tracks we are going to this year and I have a good group of experienced teammates and strong engineers to work with.”
Kellett is a graduate of the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires driver development program and the Indy Lights Series presented by Cooper Tires Series.
“I believe the Indy Lights and the Road To Indy program do a great job of preparing drivers for the move to INDYCAR,” Kellett said. “The level of competition is very strong and you get to experience the tracks on the IndyCar schedule.”
In Indy Lights, Kellett earned three podium finishes at IMS and also won the pole position for the 2018 Freedom 100.
Kellett compared the Indy Lights car to its big sister noting, “The biggest difference between the Indy car and Indy Lights car is the high-speed cornering performance. With the added downforce, you can carry much more speed. Braking performance is also substantially better. Surprisingly, the engine power isn’t a big adjustment. The power delivery is much smoother on the Indy car, so it’s nearly easier.”
A graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, ON, with a B.Sc. in Engineering Physics, Kellett is quite conversant with the engineering staff. “As you progress up the open-wheel ranks, more detailed and precise feedback is asked of the driver,” he explained. “At the IndyCar level, we have open development of certain aspects of the car and you work with a team of specialized engineers. Being able to communicate effectively is a key skill in this team environment and I have found that my engineering background helps with that communication. It also helps to have a detailed knowledge of how each system of the car works.”
It is fortunate that the Foyt team fielding the No. 14 is based in Indianapolis which is where Kellett has lived since 2015. And he has come to love the Circle City.
“Indy is a great town, the people are very friendly and the downtown is fun. It’s a great area for training and staying active, with all the trails connecting different parts of town. The different neighborhoods are also very unique: Mass Ave, Downtown, Fountain Square, Broad Ripple. I train with PitFit Training which is based here and so is my team so I’m close to the shop.”
The stage is set for Kellett to make his INDYCAR debut on America’s birthday at his ‘new hometown’ track.
FORT WORTH—After an eight-month long off-season, INDYCAR returned to live action with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night on NBC. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there were no people in the stands, and only essential crew in the pits.
With all eyes watching on NBC, including the boss A.J. Foyt, the pressure was on and the stakes were high.
It was at Texas after all, the high-banked, high speed oval in the town dubbed “No Limits.”
Tony Kanaan was starting his #TKLastLap tour in his throwback liveried 7-Eleven Chevrolet after not being in a car since September.
Kanaan prepares to take to the cockpit for the first time since September. (INDYCAR Photo)
Charlie Kimball, who joined the team as the sole, full-time driver had had only three days of testing in his No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet on road courses. All due to the pandemic shutting down races and the testing in between them.
Kimball holds onto the aeroscreen as he slides in to the cockpit at Texas. (INDYCAR Photo)
This year the cars were outfitted with an aeroscreen around the cockpit to further protect the drivers from flying debris. The added weight — 60 lbs.– and the altered chassis configuration challenged engineers to come up with setups despite the lack of testing on ovals. Some teams answered the call better than others, and A.J.’s team was among them.
Kanaan and Kimball had qualified 10th and 12th respectively—in the top half of the 24-car grid. They would start further up (sixth and eighth) when several Honda-powered cars experienced technical difficulties on the starting grid.
At the drop of the green, Kimball showed his hand early as he vaulted past his teammate and then Will Power to take over sixth on a track that was hot and slick. Kanaan slipped into ninth. Both of Foyt’s cars ran in the top-10 until the first round of pit stops on lap 35.
Both stops were mistake-free but Kanaan was penalized for violating the pitlane speed rule. A caution three laps later for rookie Rinus Veekay’s accident (he was not injured) resulted in Kanaan’s drive-through penalty being changed to restarting at the back of the field which put him 17th.
Power edged out Kimball on pit lane– more due to Power’s pit box position rather than a superior pit stop. Running seventh for that fuel stint, Kimball regained sixth after the next round of pitstops on lap 80 of the 200-lap race.
Kimball gained spots on pitstops throughout the race. (Santos Photo)
After the third round of stops on lap 121, Kimball gained another spot and was in the top-five. He soon moved past defending INDYCAR champion Josef Newgarden to claim fourth on lap 127 and was challenging defending Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud for third!
Meanwhile Kanaan, still running 17th, was not able to make any gains because it was so difficult to pass cars on track due to the turbulence at the back of the pack.
The next round of stops on lap 156 for Kimball saw him slip to eighth behind Pagenaud as several cars short-pitted (pitted early for fresh tires) and leapfrogged the pair.
Kimball emerged from his final scheduled stop in seventh but was sixth when the caution came out for Felix Rosenqvist who, running third, hit the wall on lap 191 of the 200-lapper.
It was during that caution period that Team President Larry Foyt radioed to his driver that he had to pit again. Kimball needed more fuel.
“Can’t I coast through to the end if it stays yellow?” Kimball asked.
“We don’t think it will stay yellow,” came the reply. “Please pit now.”
The stop dropped Kimball to 11th behind his teammate Kanaan who benefitted from the caution. He stayed out long enough to get his lap back and jump seven positions to 10th.
Kanaan’s car looked spectacular under the lights. (INDYCAR Photo)
Due to time constraints, officials opted not to move the lapped cars to the back of the line. Kimball restarted last with three laps to go and tried to gain back some spots. Unfortunately, on the last lap, he got high and made contact with the wall in Turn 2 and slid across the track to hit the inner wall. He was not hurt and still finished 11th, one spot better than his qualification run.
Kanaan ended the night in 10th, the same spot where he qualified earlier in the day.
Scott Dixon won the race from his second spot on the grid. Pagenaud finished second. Third through fifth were Josef Newgarden, Zach Veach and Ed Carpenter.
Larry Foyt, who called Kimball’s race, was distressed after the race.
“Just gutted for the 4 team because until the last stop it was a super competitive effort,” Foyt said. “Charlie was driving really well, and the pit stops were great. Unfortunately, a fuel miscalculation forced us to come in for a splash and cost us a top-five finish. Congrats to Tk and the 14 team for a hard fought top 10.”
After coming close to a podium finish in one of his best drives at Texas Motor Speedway since he started on pole in 2017, Charlie Kimball saw the positive in a night that could have been more rewarding for the 35-year-old Californian.
“A disappointing result for a really strong night for the Tresiba Chevrolet team,” Kimball said afterwards. “The car was so good. We unloaded pretty well, and I think we made it a little bit better, qualified solidly. Then the green flag came out and the car felt so good I was able to make moves and move forward. A small miscalculation in pit lane meant that we had to make an unscheduled pit stop which was unfortunate. It put us back and we got caught up and ended up with a little bit of damage at the end of the race. Still two AJ Foyt Racing cars finishing 10th and 11th, I think it’s a solid start to 2020. I can’t wait to get back in the car for the next NTT INDYCAR Series race.”
Kanaan, who never gave up, was satisfied to finish 10th given his tough circumstances.
“A difficult race,” Kannan summed up. “I had a little mistake in pitlane. First time in 23 years, I got a speeding violation and that cost us track position. From then on, I was just trying to minimize the damage because track position was extremely important. But I had a great qualifying and at the end of the race, we actually got lucky and got the yellow at the right time. We gained seven positions and finished in the top-10 so I’ll take it.”
Kimball will be back in action in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet on July 4th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the GMR Grand Prix. Kanaan will return to the No. 14 for the doubleheader at Iowa Speedway July 17-18.
WALLER, Texas–Finally! After a 12-week delay to the start of NTT IndyCar Series season, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball are primed to get back on track in primetime on NBC at Texas Motor Speedway this Saturday night.
Debuting with the AJ Foyt Racing team this year, Kimball pilots the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet (road course configuration pictured above) as he returns to full-time status in the Series. At Texas, he still holds the INDYCAR track record of 222.747 mph for a single lap and 222.556 mph for the two-lap average he posted in winning the pole there in 2017.
Kicking off his #TKLastLap tour of the five oval races this season, Kanaan’s No. 14 Chevrolet will carry a throwback 7-Eleven livery. The Irving, Texas based company signed for a one race deal as they honor Kanaan who won the race here in 2004 as well as the 2004 series championship carrying the 7-Eleven colors. Kanaan will maintain his consecutive start streak with Saturday‘s race bringing his record to 318 starts. His streak began at Portland in June 2001.
A.J. Foyt will not be on the pitbox Saturday night as he will be watching from his home in Houston. It will be the first IndyCar race that Foyt has missed at Texas Motor Speedway. Team President Larry Foyt returns to the pitbox as the race strategist for Charlie Kimball this season.
Race engineer Mike Colliver returns to the team to engineer Tony Kanaan’s car this season. Colliver last worked for the team in the early part of 2018 through the Indy 500 of that year. Another veteran engineer Mike Pawlowski joined the team over this past winter to work with Charlie Kimball this season. Daniele Cucchiaroni will engineer the No. 14 when Dalton Kellett straps into the seat next month at the GMR Indy Grand Prix.
Following are excerpts from the drivers’ recent news conferences conducted earlier in the week by INDYCAR.
On Racing at Texas Motor Speedway…
Tony Kanaan: “I can’t express in words how happy I am to be back racing in the NTT INDYCAR Series this Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway. It’s our first race of the season and we all want to put on a good show for the fans who will be watching on NBC during primetime TV. We’re living through unprecedented times, so being able to give our fans good entertainment to watch is key. 7-Eleven is back on board for this race with an awesome throwback paint scheme on the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Chevy and we’re hungry for a good result. It’s going to be a one day event with a lot going on for us at the track, but I couldn’t be happier to get the #TKLastLap campaign going and to be in a race car again, especially in Texas, home state of A.J. and 7-Eleven.”
Kanaan is atop his ‘horses’ after winning at Texas in 2004.
Charlie Kimball: “I’m really excited to get back on track in the No. 4 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet especially at Texas Motor Speedway having sat on pole there with the track record in 2017 and being back with my INDYCAR family as socially distant as it will be. It will be hard and very different to be racing without fans, especially the Team Chevy fans, at the race track because that interaction is a large part of what I love about being at the race track. I’m glad everyone will be staying healthy and safe and able to watch the race live on NBC on Saturday night in primetime under the lights. It’s an honor for me to be a teammate again to Tony Kanaan as he starts his Last Lap [tour] in INDYCAR driving the 14 car. For me, getting to race for A.J. Foyt in his home state of Texas is extra special. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Billie Jean King, she says that ‘Pressure is a privilege’ so the added pressure of performing for A.J. in Texas is a privilege that I look forward to.”
Kimball is all smiles after winning the pole at Texas in 2017.
On finding the balance between aggression and caution…
Tony Kanaan: “I think we [are] all going to be a little bit more on the cautious side. I think everybody is going to try to get a rhythm, try to finish the race, try to get this one under our belt. It’s an oval, the first race. I’m hoping that’s going to be the approach. Talking to some of the guys, I think everybody is on the same page. You never know when the green flag drops, people have a tendency to forget and go for it.”
Charlie Kimball: “I think there is a healthy balance between taking care of the car, the equipment and my team. But also making sure to maximize the opportunity, and when it’s time to be cautious in the race, I hope I know and understand the situation to be cautious and make sure that I pick my way through those incidents, and then when it’s time to wake up and be aggressive and go for that result. Part of that comes down to the help I get from the timing stand, the voice of Larry in my ear, my spotter from the top, but also that experience. I think that’s one of the places where experience really bodes well is you can read what’s happening and read the character of the race.”
On preparing to practice, qualify and race in less than 12 hours…
Tony Kanaan: “There is not a lot of time. Basically, not a lot of options. We do have by mandatory by the series and Firestone, we have to scrub all the sets of tires that we [are] going to actually use in the race for safety reasons. That being said, that means four laps on each set, which is five sets total or six, so you’re talking about 24 laps already you got to come in and out to get the shine off the tire. For me, I hope after 23 years in INDYCAR will be enough for me to get used to the windscreen and everything else. “After that you got to get the car right. The car needs to be spot on out of the box from the shop. You’re not going to have a lot of time to change things, to make big changes. If you’re off, it’s going to be a long night. Everybody is in the same boat.”
Charlie Kimball: “It’s critical. We haven’t run this car with an Aeroscreen on an oval yet. I haven’t driven an AJ Foyt Racing car on an oval. For me, every lap we can turn in practice, as Larry said, the preparation is critical. The work I’ve been doing with the engineering staff and the mechanics to make sure that everything is buttoned up and ready to go, we’ve talked about communications, we’ve talked about responsibilities, we’ve talked about roles. We had a pre-race meeting on Monday where we talked about how the day was going to flow because when we step off that plane or walk through that health screening Saturday morning at the racetrack, it’s going to feel like warp speed until the checkered flag flies and then some. So we have to be ready to be — to take advantage of that track time and every moment we have at the racetrack.”
On not having race fans in attendance…
Tony Kanaan: “It is going to be really weird. I have no doubt that for me I don’t think it’s going to feel like a race weekend. It’s going to feel like a private test with everybody in the series and that’s it. Again, it’s different times, right? Everywhere we go nowadays it’s empty. Even when you go places, everything is different. Try to get my mind and my emotions wrapped around this new normal up until we can really come back to normal. I think it’s going to be weird for sure. I’m glad that we’re back racing at least.”
Charlie Kimball: “The fans are really what drives the energy on race day. You see that at Indianapolis for the 500. You see that at places like Long Beach with hundreds of thousands of people, 100,000 people on race day, and that energy, you can just feel the buzz in the racetrack building up to the green flag, and so it’s going to be very different…I’ve already been thinking about how to ignore what’s happening in the grandstand or in this case not happening in the grandstand and know that driver introductions and the parade lap and those sorts of things, the anthem, are going to be very, very different than what I’ve experienced in the past, and really focus on what the competition is going to look like and know that there are going to be millions of people watching on primetime, on NBC, at home on TV but not there at the grandstand.”
NBC Sports telecasts: Qualifying, 5 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (live); Race, 8 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (live). Pre-race show begins at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN.
WALLER, Texas—7-Eleven, Inc. was there for Tony Kanaan’s first Indy car race at Texas Motor Speedway and they will be there again with Kanaan this Saturday night for the start of the #TKLastLap campaign.
Kanaan’s No. 14 Chevrolet will be decked out in the green, white, red and orange livery as AJ Foyt Racing signed 7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience chain, to be the primary marketing partner for the Genesys 300 at the high-banked oval located near the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.
The Genesys 300 will be broadcast on the NBC network Saturday at 8 p.m. ET for the first time in the event’s history dating back to 1997. It will kick off Kanaan’s “#TKLastLap” tour which consists of five oval races for the 22-year veteran, who is winding down his full-time career as an NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver.
“Being reunited with 7-Eleven for the Texas race means a lot to me,” said Kanaan. “7-Eleven was my primary sponsor for eight straight seasons and the recognizable green 7-Eleven car became my trademark.
“Most of my success came while defending their colors and I couldn’t be happier to
have them back with a full paint scheme for my #TKLastLap campaign, especially at Texas Motor Speedway. They’ve been there for most of my career and it’s very fitting to have 7-Eleven join us at AJ Foyt Racing doing a throwback for this race. I’m looking forward to getting this show going on June 6th and representing 7-Eleven in front of all the fans that will be cheering on INDYCAR’s season starter on primetime on NBC. They’ve been more than sponsors of mine, they became part of my family and I’m very proud to be defending their colors once again.”
Kanaan has an impressive record at TMS: he posted nine podium finishes in 20 starts, including a victory in 2004, the same year he won the INDYCAR Series championship. Of those nine podiums, five were runner-up finishes. Driving the 7-Eleven car for Andretti from 2003 through 2010, Kanaan racked up 14 of his 17 INDYCAR victories.
“I’m thrilled this came together, as there is so much history between 7-Eleven and Tony,” said Larry Foyt, president of AJ Foyt Racing. “This is the perfect sponsor to kick off Tony’s Last Lap campaign. We are looking forward to representing them well and putting on a great race at the always exciting Texas Motor Speedway.”
Based in nearby Irving, Texas, 7-Eleven, Inc. franchises or licenses more than 70,000 stores in 17 countries, including almost 10,000 retail outlets in the U.S.
The Memorial Day weekend is taking on a very different look for sports fans with the postponement of the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge to August 23rd due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are uniting with the race teams, drivers, partners and tracks of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to support the fight against COVID-19 in the “One Drive To Get Back On Track” virtual auction.
Sports fans are being asked to join the fundraising efforts today through Sunday – the originally scheduled race weekend for the 500 – by bidding on rare and exciting INDYCAR fan experiences and/or purchasing a special edition #BackOnTrack T-shirt.
A.J. Foyt Racing’s auction package combines two passions of the Foyt family: auto racing (of course) and wine, which is a passion of co-founders Larry Foyt and A.J. Foyt IV. The highest bidder will enjoy a special wine tasting with A.J. Foyt at the beautiful Foyt Wine Vault on Main Street in Speedway on Thursday, Aug. 20th. The winner and three guests can sample some of the great Foyt Family Wines and ask A.J. questions about his career. The man has lots of stories from his career than spans seven decades! The winner will also receive an autographed bottle of Foyt Wine.
The guests will also be given credentials for Carb Day at the track on Friday, Aug. 21st when they can experience an insider’s view of the race team in action, an opportunity usually reserved only for the team’s marketing partners.
AUSTIN—The results don’t show it but the Foyt team had some good runs in the iRacing AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at the virtual Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Both Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais were running in the top-10 midway through the race and Dalton Kellett was knocking on the door of the top-10.
It was all the more impressive because COTA was cited as the trickiest of the circuits the iRacing INDYCAR Series has run to date. Two of the leaders spun while leading and the pole winner, 20-year-old Lando Norris, also spun in the race but recovered to win. Norris drives for McLaren in Formula One and was an invited celebrity driver this week.
Dalton Kellett, who was supposed to make his actual NTT IndyCar Series debut this weekend in the K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, continues to be our top iRacer as he finished 18th today after a late race spin.
“Exciting race today at COTA!” Kellett said. “Lots of action off the start and the first few
laps. It was mostly clean, but I had a couple contacts with some late moves, so some damage on both runs hurt our pace but not to the point of being too detrimental. I’m happy that we were able to move up from our qualifying position, finishing 18th, but I lost the opportunity for a top-15 with a late spin in T11. My engineer Daniele [Cucchiaroni] and spotter Darren [Manning] did a great job calling strategy and spotting. Overall, I think it was an exciting race and I am happy that we were able to put on a good show for everyone watching at home. Tune-in next week to see the #41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
It took five races, but Tony Kanaan actually enjoyed himself in the iRacing Challenge Series as there were no technical problems (which had plagued him throughout this series and limited his track time on race days). Driving the No. 14 Big Machine Hand Sanitizer Chevrolet, he found himself running competitively in the 32-lap race around the 20-turn, 3.427-mile circuit.
Aside from the technological glitches, Kanaan was unhappy with his early performances, so he sought the help of two sim racing ‘driver coaches’ this week. He practiced as much as nine hours a day. His race pace improved where he was running in the top-six midway through the race. A couple spins, one of which included a battle with Jack Harvey, diluted the effort unfortunately and he finished 23rd.
“Good run,” Kanaan assessed. “I made a few mistakes myself so, as you’re getting better, you tend to become overconfident and try to overdo and I tried to overdo today. It was fun. I liked that I improved, and now I have to stop spinning!”
Sebastien Bourdais, who was the top qualifier of the three drivers, also felt optimistic about his race today but with about six laps to go Bourdais made his final stop. Exiting pit road, he and Simon Pagenaud made contact which damaged Bourdais’s car and he dropped back. He placed 24th.
“We had a race going on for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevy,” Bourdais said. “We definitely seemed to have a bit of pace this weekend and showed ourselves in the top 10. It just got a little complicated after the restart and got chewed up a little bit. It’s a shame because it looked like we could score a good result. We’ll keep trying and hopefully we can finish on a high note at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
Following Norris (U.K.) across the line were Pato O’Ward (Mexico), Felix Rosenqvist (Sweden), Scott McLaughlin (New Zealand) and Santino Ferrucci (U.S. A. – Pennsylvania). The oldest in the group is 28-year-old Rosenqvist.
The final race of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Series takes place next Saturday afternoon at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will be broadcast on NBCSN.
AUSTIN–Tony Kanaan’s No. 14 Chevrolet is sporting a new livery this weekend as he competes in the penultimate round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Series at the virtual Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.
As the team continues to promote their marketing partners on the No. 14 Chevrolet in this virtual racing season–past liveries include ABC Supply and 7-Eleven–it allows Kanaan to thank them for the support being shown in his Last Lap Tour, the official name of final INDYCAR season in the actual world.
“We’re fortunate to be able to showcase the companies that are behind us in the real racing world on the iRacing platform as well,” Kanaan said. “When it was time to put Big Machine Vodka on the car for the fifth race of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Series, I asked Mark if they’d like to go with Big Machine Hand Sanitizer instead of the vodka brand. I believe it’s very fitting for the moment we’re going through and also gives them the appropriate exposure for such a cool initiative. Scott and Mark Borchetta really knocked it out of the park adapting their distillery to produce hand sanitizer and make it available for the public.”
“Considering the moment, this was an easy decision to pivot to Big Machine Hand Sanitizer,” explained Mark Borchetta, the executive vice-president of Big Machine Distillery. “We recognized in early March that the need for sanitizer was going to be very serious. Within seven days we had repurposed and were servicing a line of police cars, firetrucks and EMT’s at our Big Machine Distillery & Tavern in Nashville where we handed out dozens of cases and thousands of bottles to our first responders.”
Scott Borchetta holds the case of hand sanitizer while his brother Mark and Nashville’s Finest look on.
Not knowing how strong the response to the hand sanitizer would be, the vodka distillers began by filling small ‘airplane size’ bottles but the popularity soared as word got out beyond the first responders and the demand for larger quantities and containers had to be met.
“The response has been so strong that this could become a permanent business for us,” Borchetta revealed. “But right now we are doing our part to serve our community, and now the country, to fight this virus.”
Big Machine Distillery’s strategic pivot enabled them to hire workers, help fill a nationwide need and still donate their hand sanitizers to first responders. That initiative, combined with the race team helping to spread the word nationally, has turned this venture into a win-win for all.
Mark Borchetta hands off to the soldiers of the National Guard.
Big Machine Team drivers include Indy 500 winners Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti, 2019 NASCAR Champ Kyle “Rowdy” Busch, and rising IndyCar star, Santino Ferrucci.
Americans are following the guidelines to #StayHome, as is the AJ Foyt Racing team. We asked race fans to submit questions for Team President Larry Foyt through Twitter (T), Instagram (I) and Facebook (F). Between fans and our own curiosity, we had a lot of questions so we will break it up into two parts. Here is Round 1 of #AskLarry …
Q: During this quarantine period, have you discovered an activity that you enjoy doing that your normal schedule wouldn’t allow for? – John Elkin (F)
LF: “I think the biggest thing that has been kind of a blessing is getting to be with our son every day. Normally I’d be missing half the week traveling, so being with him every day during this time—he just turned one–has been a lot of fun.”
Q: If you could lure any NASCAR driver to Indy to drive for you, who would itbe and why? – Rich Mar Florist (F)
LF: “I have a couple guys in mind…it’d be great to have Kurt Busch because he’s run there and run really well. Knowing Jimmie Johnson back in the day, I was a year behind him coming up in ASA, and I raced against him a little bit in the Busch Series, so I always had a lot of respect for Jimmie and what he was able to do. He’s shown interest in INDYCAR and it’d be great to have him in one of our cars. Would love to have Dale Jr. in one of our cars. How cool having an Earnhardt driving a Foyt car? I remember when Dad drove his dad’s car at the Brickyard for testing so that would be great to repay that favor.”
Q: Is having a TX branch and an Indiana branch a good idea? Wouldn’t things be better if Foyt Racing were all under one roof? – Don Mulder (F)
LF: “We have a long term goal of getting it all under one roof. When we grew to two cars in 2015, we tried to do them both from Texas. We really struggled with getting experienced people to work in Texas, whether it was engineers or mechanics, and that really hurt us. It slowed our growth and our progress for a couple of years. That’s why we decided to open up the Indy shop which allowed us to have a good crew up there as well as our good crew down here in Texas. Long term it would be great to all be under one roof. We’ve got the engineering staff in Indianapolis so they all work together there but we have a really good group here in Texas. It’s where we’re at right now but, yes in the long term, it would be great to be under one roof.”
Q: Other than A.J., who was a childhood hero in racing that you looked up to? – Johnnie Crawford (F)
LF: “When I first started racing go karts in high school, it was around the time we had Robby Gordon (pictured left) driving for us. He was such a talented driver and it was fun watching him because he was really competitive. He made a big impression on me. You never knew what was going to happen but he was a lot of fun to watch. I really looked up to Robby. I also had a great admiration for Kenny Brack. I was able to do some spotting for him, and he is an amazingly talented and dedicated driver. Listening to him taught me a great deal about the mental preparation of race driving.”
Q: Did you get to run any dirt coming up racing and if not, is that something you would have liked to try? – Johnnie Crawford (F)
LF: “I did a couple go kart races on dirt but never got to run dirt beyond that. I always wanted to try it, but it wasn’t in the cards for me. I was still going to school and didn’t have a lot of time to go chasing the dirt track stuff. I think it would have been a blast for sure.”
Q: Are you concerned that this shutdown/cancellation of races could possibly lead to sponsors taking a second look at renewals or withdrawing after contracts expire given the current economic state? – Dave Newell (@DaveNewellphoto (T)
LF: “Of course. I think every business in the world right now is wondering what economies are going to look like as we come out of this and how quickly we can rebound. I’m sure a lot of companies are going to have to make cuts in areas and some of that could be on the marketing side. We hope the economy comes back quickly and we know that companies are still going to have to do marketing, and motorsports is one of the greatest areas for it. All of our sponsors have been great through all of this. Everyone’s in this together I think and we just have to see what it’s going to look like. It’s a little bit nerve-wracking but I’m sure we’ll do the best we can and hopefully come out okay.”
Q: As team president would you consider doing one of the final two @IndyCar @iRacing events? – Ben Johnston @BSJ2008 – (T)
Q:Hope everyone at AJ FoytRacing is doing well! Are we going to see Larry guest star in one of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge races? – @imperial_motorsports (I)
LF: “It’d probably have to be an oval (laughs). I’m not going to be spending the big money on these sim rigs like a lot of these guys have. My stuff’s very basic so I don’t think I’d be very competitive on a road course. The oval looked like a lot of fun, I’ve gone in and done a little bit of practicing when the guys are racing amd it’s been fun. It takes a lot of time and I think with a baby, I’m a lot like Charlie Kimball, there’s a little too much going on to put the time in to try to beat those guys. Some of them are incredible on iRacing.”
Q: Larry, I had the pleasure of watching you race a stock car in Milwaukee. Do you miss driving and if so, what specifically do you miss about it? Brutuski @brutuski (T)
Q: Does he ever miss his days driving that Harrah’s car in NASCAR? I always loved that purple and yellow #14. – @bstargel
Q: Do you miss racing (driving) yourself? – @55TbirdChick (T)
LF: “I definitely do every year that Daytona rolls around, I miss that. I really enjoyed driving stock cars at some of those big tracks. But you move on from it. I miss some parts of it and some parts I don’t miss. The days when we were struggling and being a small team, it wasn’t always a lot of fun. Being a rookie, you’re hard on yourself, those days were pretty trying for sure. The love of racing will always be there whether you’re behind the wheel or on the pitstand or just watching your cars. I do miss it sometimes but I really enjoy the business side. Building this team and working with my dad on it has been a fantastic experience. Hopefully we’ll be involved in it as long as we can.
Q: “Hi, Larry! This is Kellyanne. How are you and your family doing, and what are y’all up to during the quarantine?” – @autumndandelion (I)
LF: “Hi Kellyanne! Well I get up and I work about half a day catching up on emails and phone calls. We still have a lot of racing communications going back and forth with the engineers who are working from home. I’m talking with our sponsors and trying to stay ahead of what our schedule is going to look like and how busy we’re going to be in the late summer and fall. Also working a little bit building the winery and museum in Fredericksburg, Texas. I spend a couple hours on that, and then when the weather’s nice in the afternoon, it’s great to be able and go out to swing the golf clubs. Have to be socially distant from everybody but at least I get a little swinging of the golf clubs and walking outside. And then playing with the baby so the day fills up pretty fast.”
Q: Do you want your son to become a race car driver?
LF: “You know we talk about that a lot around here these days. I get asked that quite a bit. I probably won’t push it on him but if he shows interest and wants to try it, I’ll let him. I know how hard I had to fight A.J. to convince him to let me try it. The baby goes crazy over a steering wheel. We bought him a little remote control Indy car that he rides in and he loves it. Anything he gets in, he’s going for the steering wheel. I’m sure that’s common with a lot of babies but I think we might be in trouble.”
Q: Are you interested in rejoining our team this year to take on the iRacing Indy 500? 😉 – Tim Doyle (@TimDoyle19)
LF: “My old buddy Tim! I definitely would do that. If he’ll give me a good setup, I’m in.”
Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job? – @1ironabrams (I)
LF: “What I’ve learned in racing is that it’s all about your people. You try to put a winning group together and try to be optimistic that you’re putting the right pieces in place but you really don’t know till you get to the race track. And in racing, so many things come into play from budgets to all types of things that weigh in on the difference in outcomes. You hope you’ve got the right group together to capitalize when the time is right. That’s the toughest thing – getting the best people you can and all the teams are trying to do that as well, so it’s very competitive within the workforce of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. It’s tough but it’s enjoyable because you meet so many people. We do pride ourselves on having really good people — people we enjoy working with and enjoy having work for us. I think we have a really good group.”
Q: What are you doing for all the crew now that there’s no racing? – @bigdocmike (I)
LF: “Well I told them to stay home so I hope they’re doing that. We’ve all been in touch by email. We’ve done a couple fun things. We had a little concert one night on Facebook with a friend of mine that sings country music. The engineers are working from home on their computers so they’ve stayed busy. They had a lot of projects they wanted to catch up on, so it’s been good for them. I’m hoping we can get back to work within a month and get our schedule going before it gets too late in the year. We’re trying to follow the guidelines that the health and government officials have set to keep everyone as safe as possible, and when the time comes, get back to work.”
Q: What was your most memorable moment of your career as a driver?
LF: “As a driver, I’d say certainly the first time I qualified for the Indy 500 because Indy cars were always my dream. When the split happened as I was coming up, it just made sense to go the NASCAR route. I would say the most fun year I had in racing was ASA stock cars. Getting to work with and race against Butch Miller is something I will never forget. I had basically never been on a short track before and I was racing against some of the best short trackers around. A moment I will always remember was qualifying on the pole and getting the track record at Winchester. I believe it beat a longtime record by Mark Martin and still stands today. I had gone out early and wanted the pole so badly, I snuck up in the stands and watched the rest of qualifying and jumped up when it held. I called A.J. to tell him and he said “What happened? Did the throttle stick?” We had a good laugh with that one.
I had a lot of fun over there but my dream was to be at Indy. Going to the Indy 500 my whole life, watching it from Turn 2 and having my dad waving at us as he drove by, well Indy was the dream for me. In 2004, when I took that first lap around the Speedway, and then qualified and raced in the 500 — that was the experience of a lifetime. Coming down for the start of that race is something you can’t prepare yourself for–it’s such an incredible experience! I think the other cool thing was being able to race in the Brickyard 400 because not a lot of drivers have been able to do both.”
Q: What was your most memorable moment on the team management side?
LF: “Being on the team side, I’d have to say the Long Beach Grand Prix win. That was such a great day. We all really needed that. Dad had been sick at home and I knew he was watching so to be able to call him from victory lane—well it was a pretty special day. And it was great for our whole organization.”
Takuma Sato with his 2013 ABC Supply Racing team in victory lane at Long Beach. Larry is standing second from right.
Q: What do you think of the IndyCar iRacing series?
LF: “I’ve enjoyed watching it on TV. iRacing has been working on this for a very long time and for them to have this moment is great. It really is a fun platform and fun to watch. I think it’s tougher for some of the older guys that didn’t grow up with the sims as much as these younger drivers have. I know Will Power’s been doing it for a really long time because back when I was doing it years and years ago, he was already doing it. He’s got a lot of experience and he’s shown that. When I talk to our drivers, I love that they’re all so competitive. Tony has put a lot into this as have Sebastien and Dalton. They’re racers! It just goes to show that these guys will race anything. Give them a steering wheel and some pedals, and the competition comes out. I think it’s great because it keeps us thinking about racing. We get to see all the liveries out there which is pretty cool. It doesn’t replace the real thing though and we hope to do that sooner rather than later.”
Dalton Kellett is currently 11th in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Series standings.
Q: What is your silver lining to the pandemic?
LF: “It’s tough to say because so many people have really suffered a lot and lives have been lost. I’m concerned that a lot of small businesses in America aren’t going to recover from this. It’s hard to say there’s a silver lining. For us, we’ve tried to make sure our families and employees are safe. For me having this extra time to spend with my son is what I’ve tried to focus on. It’s sad because we’re probably all going to know somebody who’ll lose to this pandemic, it’s just heartbreaking to be living in this time. Two months ago if you had said this was even a possibility, I don’t think any of us could fathom it. We just need to pray for the people that are deeply affected by it and hope we can get this behind us. Have to hope that the medical professionals and scientists can come up with a vaccine and a really effective way to treat this virus—that would be a prayer come true.”
The Firestone 175 and fourth round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Series took place on the virtual 1.52-mile oval of Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi Saturday afternoon under virtually sunny skies and before a packed grandstand (the grandstands are always packed at INDYCAR iRaces).
Hopes were high as Tony Kanaan posted his best start of the series by qualifying sixth in the 7-Eleven No. 14 Chevrolet. Unfortunately those hopes were dashed in the first lap as Kanaan had a spectacular flip on the back straight (in iRacing all of the accidents are spectacular) triggered by a netcode!
Kanaan was dicing with Scott McLaughlin for position and the system “calculated” that they touched (video shows they didn’t). The technical explanation included the fact that McLaughlin was racing from Australia and the lag in the internet connection probably caused the system error. Kanaan’s wing “broke” sending him into the wall and into the air. There wasn’t a yellow and Kanaan was towed to the pits for a Fast Repair (or total re-set).
His teammate Sebastien Bourdais, who started in the back after his qualifying run was cancelled, had plans to hang back ion his No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet and let things get sorted out but a multi-car wreck on lap five collected him as he tried to skirt through the wreckage. He too had to be towed to the pits for a Fast Repair.
Dalton Kellett, who also had a problem in qualifying and started in the back half of the field, was able to get through the lap five accident but may have sustained some minor damage to his No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.
Pit stops for Bourdais and Kellett went off without incident but Kanaan had another strange thing happen during his pitstop which could not be explained by the iRacing technical staff. As the pit stops began, Kanaan cycled towards the front and was in eighth when he ducked into the pits on lap 56 for tires and fuel. However, the tires never registered as being replaced and when he went back on track, he was three laps down. He held on for as long as he could but finally brought the car to the garage on race lap 90. His exasperation was palpable.
“Very frustrating race,” Kanaan texted afterwards. “First there was a computer problem that took us out of the race in the beginning. Then another problem in the pits where they apologized, and told me they would give me an answer next week. I’m really disappointed with the way they are running things as I’m taking this way too seriously for that.”
Without another yellow, the odds for top-10 finishes for Kellett and Bourdais were not in their favor on the super fast superspeedway. They never got within sight of the lead pack. They placed 19th and 20th respectively.
For the fourth straight week, Kellett and his No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet emerged the top finisher in the Foyt Racing stable.
“A lot of excitement at the start of the race!” exclaimed Kellett. “Luckily, I got through the big wreck on the back straight cleanly, but I may have gotten a bit of damage before the first pit stop. Had a good race there at the end. We (he and Bourdais) were trying to work together and trade spots back and forth to see if would catch that pack of guys ahead of us. There was just too big of a gap and I had slightly newer tires on the pit cycle so the last bit we were just running by ourselves. That race really came down to qualifying and I made a mistake on my qualifying lap and ended up fifth from the end (28th), and luckily we were able to move up from there. It’s tough when you start that far back. Looking forward to the next one, I think we’re going to COTA which I think will be a lot of fun. It’s a cool track.”
Bourdais was disappointed also as the race did not turn out as he had hoped after some strong practice runs this week.
“Another disappointing event for the AJ Foyt Racing Tresiba/Chevrolet #4,” Bourdais texted. “This time I mostly have myself to blame though. I really thought I had a good chance to qualify well but I unfortunately touched the wall coming out of turn 4, which in iRacing cancels the lap. We therefore started the race from the back and hung back about 2s to let things settle down, but I still got caught up in the first big wreck, which consumed our only fast repair. Knowing we didn’t have any more freebies (Fast Repairs or resets) I was double careful and didn’t catch the right train. This, combined to the fact there wasn’t a subsequent yellow, didn’t allow us to finish better than 20th.”
Simon Pagenaud claimed his second straight victory in a tight duel at the end with Scott Dixon. Will Power finished third followed by Marcus Ericsson and Robert Wickens.
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