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Race Report: Indy 200-MidOhio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 4, 2021)—On a holiday known for fireworks, the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio started off with a bang – a few of them actually — with two full course cautions coming within the space of the first four laps.

Starting 12th in the ROKiT Chevrolet, Sébastien Bourdais made it through the first melee which happened right in front of him as it involved fifth row mates (and teammates) James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Felix Rosenqvist also got involved. All three cars sustained varying degrees of damage.

Starting 21st, Dalton Kellett snaked through the mess with his K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet but did get hit from behind which damaged the undertray and affected the car’s handling.

The second caution came on the heels of the first and was triggered by fourth-running Will Power’s spin after being tagged by Scott Dixon. Bourdais, in 10th, had to skirt through the grass to avoid Power and was ninth by the time the dust settled. Kellett climbed from 21st to 16th.

The drivers settled down after that as those cautions turned out to be the only ones during the 80-lap race around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit.

Three laps into green flag racing, Bourdais was slapped with a blocking penalty on lap 10 and told to give up two positions. It took two laps to comply as the team asked for clarification. That dropped him to 11th which is pretty much where he ran for the entire race.

For the final 15 laps of the race, he waged a tough battle with Takuma Sato who had the benefit of fresh Firestone alternate (red) tires, while Bourdais had to use lightly used reds, having used his second set in the second round of qualifying. Sato also had twice as much “Push-to-Pass” or overtake seconds left too, which made Bourdais’ fight even tougher.

Sato prevailed on the final lap to steal into the top-10 because seventh place Colton Herta had to duck into the pits for fuel on the penultimate lap. Bourdais finished 11th.

“Not an awesome day for the 14 ROKiT Chevrolet,” a disappointed Bourdais said afterwards. “It seemed like it might have been something to play for, but unfortunately got a penalty for blocking, which I’m not sure I agree with. That cost us two positions in a game of track position, so very difficult to make anything from there. Then we got caught up behind Jimmie (Johnson) for a long time and that cost us a lot of time.”

Post-race debrief with Justin Taylor, Larry Foyt and Bourdais.

“The last stint was pretty painful on the used reds so I finally had to give up against Takuma (Sato), but at least we got something out of it – eleventh place – not super exciting but better than nothing. Let’s move on to the next one,” Bourdais concluded.

Kellett on track before an SRO crowd. Note the U.S.A. and Canadian flags.

Kellett was running a steady race in 16th, having started on the alternate tires and dodging the cars in the cautions. He moved up to 11th as the pit stop cycle began. He pitted on lap 28 for the primary tires. Kellett explained that due to the first lap damage to the underwing resulting in a loss of some downforce, the car didn’t handle as well with the harder compound of the primary tires.

In the final stop he was able to get back on the alternate tires but by then he had slipped to 21st which is where he finished.

“First of all, Happy July 4th everyone!” exclaimed Kellett afterwards. “We just had Canada Day and now it’s July 4th so it’s a good fun weekend of celebrating and what better way to do it than being here at Mid-Ohio for race day? It was fun racing, a little bit of action off the start. I got tagged from behind and got a little bit of damage to the underwing, so we were kind of struggling a bit.”

JR Hildebrand has been working with Kellett and was spotting for the team today.

“It was okay on Firestone reds,” Kellett explained, adding, “but on blacks with that lack of the downforce and lack of grip on those harder tires, it kind of just really hurt our pace and that stint cycled us back. We were running on our own but with that pace we lost some spots that we had gained off the start so that was a little frustrating. When there’s a melee like that, sometimes you’re just lucky to get through and we just kind of squeaked through that one quite closely. Happy to get through that and be able finish the race and bring home a little bit of points. The stops were good, guys were good in pit lane so we’re happy that we had good performance in the pits with the K-Line Insulators No. 4 crew.

“We get to have a little bit of time off between now and our next race. We’ve got a test coming up at Gateway and then we’ll be on track in Nashville for the first time in the Music City Grand Prix, so that’s super exciting.”

Josef Newgarden won the race to bring home the first win of the season for Team Penske. Second through fifth were Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi.

The NTT INDYCAR Series will be taking an “Olympics break” as INDYCAR’s broadcast partner NBC televises the games across all their platforms. Drivers Bourdais and Kellett will enjoy time with their families in France and Florida respectively before heading to St. Louis to test at World Wide Technology Raceway (Gateway) at the end of the month. The next race will be the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville on August 8th which will be broadcast on NBCSN starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Qualifying Report: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 3, 2021) — One second. It could have made all the difference in qualifying for Sebastien Bourdais at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Instead of advancing to the Firestone Fast 6, Bourdais and his No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet will start 12th tomorrow. Dalton Kellett will start 21st in his No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet for his best IndyCar start at this track.

After setting the quickest time on the primary tires in Round 2, Bourdais came into the pits to switch to the faster alternate tires. The pit lane speed limiter failed to catch a speed spike so Bourdais was hit with a drive-through penalty which he had to serve immediately. Penalty served, he had to be careful to not impede others who were already on their flying laps as that would have incurred another penalty. He cycled in and had only flying one lap but he needed at least two laps for the tires to reach peak efficiency.

As luck would have it, Bourdais arrived at the timeline a second too early as he was the first to catch the checkered flag, thus cutting short his run and that peak efficiency lap on the red tires, as well as his bid for the Firestone Fast 6.

“Pretty frustrating day for the ROKiT No. 14 Chevrolet with AJ Foyt Racing,” said Bourdais. “Obviously felt like we had a pretty decent shot at it. Barely made it through from Group 1 to Q2, got a pit speed violation – still trying to look at what actually happened because I undershot then overshot the speed and we got dinged for it. Pretty disappointing because it definitely feels like there was potential there for the car to give it a shot to the Fast Six, so we’ll see. It’s going to be a tough day starting 12th tomorrow but we’ll give our best shot.”

“It would have been a run for the pole,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “We had a fast car. Just can’t catch a break this season.”

Kellett’s made progress from yesterday’s practice and seemed pleased with his car.

“I would say the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Team Chevy is feeling as good as it’s felt all weekend,” Kellett said. “I think we made some gains between practice and qualifying so that was a good thing. Just need some time gain between Seb and myself. [Have] some stuff to work on, mainly Turn 1, just losing a bit of time there but getting back on power in the keyhole so we will be working on that in warmup. And we’ll be doing some longer runs to see how those Firestone reds will progress for a longer run. Overall, relatively happy and looking forward to what we’ll have for tomorrow.”

The will be broadcast on NBC starting at 12 noon ET.

Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

DALTON KELLETT began competing in the NTT INDYCAR Series a year ago with his debut in the K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet at the GMR Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A graduate of the Road to Indy Series, the 27-year-old Canadian collected podiums enroute to his debut in America’s premier open wheel series. In fact, he finished on the podium with a third place at Mid-Ohio in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire Series in 2018. Since Mid-Ohio is one of his favorite tracks, we asked him a few questions…

It has been a year since your first IndyCar race at the IMS road course. How would you assess the past year?
DK: “The last year was all about learning and getting up to speed quickly. It was hard without the usual testing and condensed schedules, but I am happy with what we got done. Coming into this season I knew it would still feel like a rookie year, so my focus has been on learning and improving at each race weekend.”

What is the best part of being an IndyCar driver?
DK: “It’s an honour to have the opportunity to compete in IndyCar, really a dream come true! I would say taking part in the Indy 500 has been the best part. Especially this year, having fans back in the stands made it very special.”

Can you point to some things you have learned?
DK: “I’ve been very fortunate to have a great team around me. They have helped me learn the car and get up to speed in IndyCar. I would say my most tangible gains have been in braking technique and optimizing the entry phase of the corner. Also, pitstops were relatively new to me. I feel like I have gotten much better at hitting my marks and being smooth in that process.”

What were the biggest challenges you faced?
DK: “I think my biggest challenge in this first year was taking on my first IndyCar season during COVID. It was tough to come into such a competitive series with no testing and condensed race weekends. On top of the racing challenges, we were dealing with the uncertainty of where everything was going. It was tough watching [girlfriend] Nicole have to deal with the realities of the pandemic, as a healthcare worker, while we were focused on race cars.”

How do you deal with the frustration when things don’t go as planned during a race weekend?
DK: “It’s important to be able to learn from those weekends, reset, and move on. We have had a few of those but the AJ Foyt team is always focused ahead. Of course, I would be lying if I said the frustration wasn’t there but it’s how you deal with it that counts.”

Kellett chats with A.J. Foyt after just getting out of the car. (Photo Courtesy of A.J. Foyt Racing

Why is the simulator an important part of a team’s race prep? What can the engineers extract from it?
DK: “I think it is especially important for tracks that you haven’t raced at before. Getting your brake references right, knowing the overall sight picture, and having a feel for the bumps of a track are all achievable in the sims. So, they’re a great tool for that. As a secondary measure, the correlation between real-life and the sim is better now than even 10 years ago. You can use them for some setup work, but the primary benefit is working on tracks and technique.”

Does working with a veteran like Bourdais help a young driver like yourself?
DK: “Having a (very) experienced teammate like Seb is a great asset to a rookie and a young driver like me. It gives me a benchmark and I can tap into Seb when I have questions about tracks or a technique. He’s been great to work with.”

What do you like about Mid-Ohio?
DK: “I have always liked the fast-paced nature of the layout. It has a great rhythm. For me, it falls into the same category as Laguna Seca and Barber. Short, intense, flowing tracks. Those are my favourites!”

Has your opinion changed about the course from when you first ran it in an Indy Lights car?
DK: “I’ve always like Mid-Ohio so I wouldn’t say my opinion has changed. The capabilities of the Indy car just take it to another level.”

What would you tell race fans who are disappointed the INDYCAR Series had to cancel this year’s Toronto event for the second straight year due to Covid-19?
DK: “The drivers are right there with you! We love that track and everyone really enjoys coming to the city (and I’m not just boasting about my hometown!). It wasn’t the right time, given Ontario’s COVID numbers, for it to happen this year – we will see you next year!”

Did you take up any new hobbies during last year’s lockdown? And are you still interested in them?
DK: “I’ve really gotten into astronomy – I’m still working on my star tracker mount but the busy season schedule halted my progress. Looking forward to picking that project back up in July. We also moved into a new house at the beginning of May, and let me tell you, I never realized that a power-washer could be so much fun. It’s hardly a chore!”

Do you have any plans during the 3-week break in the schedule due to the Olympics?

DK: “We will probably take a long weekend and travel somewhere domestically for a little break. And I’ll definitely be supporting Team Canada! Rock climbing is making its first appearance in the Olympics, so as a climber and someone who loves the outdoors, I’ll be cheering on Canada’s Sean McColl and Alannah Yip. They’re both super talented so it should be exciting to watch.” (Kellett is pictured at right rappelling off of the Grand Teton in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson Hole, Wyoming)

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

SÉBASTIEN BOURDAIS will be making his 10th IndyCar start at Mid-Ohio, including his 2003 run in CART when he started fifth and finished third for Newman-Haas. His best result came in 2014 when he won the pole and finished second for KVSH Racing. Perhaps his most satisfying result came in 2018 when he started last (24th) and finished sixth for Dale Coyne with Vasser Sullivan.

How do you feel about Mid-Ohio?
SB: “It’s a place I very much enjoy, I’ve had some fun races there, particularly in 2018. Very, very fluid track, super challenging where you have to put a lot of energy behind the wheel to produce lap time. Huge track evolution, gripping up through the sessions and through the weekend so always good fun and hopefully we’ll have a little better luck than we’ve had lately and put in some strong results for that ROKiT Chevrolet No. 14 with AJ Foyt Racing. Seems like it’s going to be a nice weekend weather wise and looking forward to getting back into the car.”

What is the most challenging part of Mid-Ohio to get right?
SB: “The toughest part and most important part is turn 4 through turn 9 – a long succession of corners that all lead to the next one so if the balance isn’t really good then you lose a ton of time because you just late apex and if you can’t get back on power then it just keeps making things worse, and compounds the problem: missing apexes one after the other and not being able to go back on power and losing a ton of time so that’s definitely the key point of the track. The toughest corner is probably Turn 1. It’s a very fluid track and very fun track when the car balance is good.”

Which sports will you be following during the Summer Olympics?
SB: “I always enjoyed discovering new sports during the Olympics which showcases a lot between rowing and track & field and all of the collective [team] sports like basketball, volleyball. Obviously, the handball team in France is usually very good. I haven’t really seen what the basketball team is going to be up against but that could be fun so lots of things to look for but not really any one in particular.”

What will you be doing during INDYCAR’s summer break?
SB: “As far as our summer break, it’s going to be basically heading to France. My family is already there and I’m going to meet them after Mid-Ohio. I will try to spend some quality time with the family and maybe go down to south of France a little bit. I’ve got a fishing trip with my dad where we have an apartment in La Rochelle and then it will be time to head back for the Gateway test on the 25th of July..

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

Past Performance at Mid-Ohio: Bourdais’ posted his best start and finish in 2014 when he won the pole and finished second after leading 38 laps for KVSH Racing. Kellett’s best start of 21st and best finish of 22nd came in Race 2 last year. The Foyt team’s best start is 7th and best finish is 4th — both with Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2009. In the CART Series (1987-1995), the team’s best start was 12th (1988-A.J. Foyt, 53) and best finish was 2nd (1993-Robby Gordon, 24).

Last Race: At Road America, Bourdais qualified 11th and finished 16th while Kellett dropped out after 19 laps with engine issues.

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be broadcast live by NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network on Sunday starting at 12 noon ET. Practice and qualifying will be streamed on Peacock. A tape-delayed broadcast of qualifying will be aired Saturday night on NBC Sports Network at 11 p.m. ET.

Race Report: REV Group GP

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 20, 2021)
—“When it rains, it pours,” lamented Team President Larry Foyt amidst a light rain following the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America Sunday afternoon.

Although the saying comes from an early 1900s advertising slogan for Morton table salt (referring to the fact that humidity does not affect its salt’s “pourability”), it has come to mean something entirely different, and it certainly rang true for AJ Foyt Racing this weekend.

The troubles began in Saturday’s final practice for Dalton Kellett who had a wiring issue cause him to lose most of the session. The problem was diagnosed and corrected in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, and the thought among the more positive thinkers was at least it happened in practice.

The race started off cleanly although Bourdais admitted he didn’t get the best start and dropped from 11th to 13th in the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet. However, he settled in and maintained pace until the first round of stops. He pitted on lap 12 to change from the alternate tires to primaries. A slow stop cost him five positions and he returned to the race in 18th.

The first of four full course cautions came out on lap 16 for Jimmie Johnson’s off-track excursion. It was just after the restart that Bourdais reported a problem with the rear and he pitted on lap 19. The crew determined the camber shims fell out of the left rear. They fixed it and sent him off, but he lost a lap and was in 23rd position.

The only one faring worse was his teammate. Kellett also had a slow stop and then had an issue on his out-lap which forced him to limp back to the pits in second gear. The culprit was an overheated gear control unit. The team fixed that and sent him back out. However, another problem developed, and he was soon back in the pits. The team determined it could not be fixed, ending his race.

“Just a heartbreaking day for us at Road America,” said Kellett. “The car felt pretty good in traffic when we were running but right from the get-go we just ran into some issues. Had a bobble on that first stop and lost positions there.

“On the second stint, we ran into a shifting issue in the electronics control box that controls shifting. Seems we had a bit of an overheating problem and then it went into failsafe mode and we had to limp back to the pits. Changed the part and unclogged the duct that was causing the problem and then got running again. Then it sounds like we may have had a failure in the sensor that controls the engine so that was kind of the end of our day, but we’ll diagnose it and work through the problem and come back for Mid-Ohio.”

Meanwhile, Bourdais was able to get his lap back on lap 29 by passing Kevin Magnussen who was the only one on the lead lap that didn’t pit. A full course yellow came out on lap 35 for Magnussen who went off course. That was the lap Bourdais planned to duck into the pits for fuel and it forced Bourdais to pit for a splash in a closed pit. He then pitted again the next lap to change tires and take on a full load of fuel.

At that point, his team flirted with the idea of a fuel-saving race but determined they would have to save too much fuel and lose too much time to make that strategy work.

A flurry of pit stops by the field on laps 40 and 41, saw Bourdais register his fastest lap of the race as he tried to make up ground during the pit cycles. He made his final stop on lap 48 and took on used reds along with enough fuel to make it to the end of the 55-lap race. A full course yellow on lap 52 for Ed Jones’ spin when he suffered a suspension failure, provided the opportunity Bourdais needed to get out of his personal No Man’s Land. With the field tightened up, Bourdais took full advantage and climbed from 21st to 16th in two laps.

“Pretty eventful race here at Road America,” Bourdais stated. “Didn’t get the best of starts, lost a

couple of positions and unfortunately, we had a pretty poor pitstop on the first stop there and then cycled to the back and then we lost the camber shims on the left rear so that unfortunately pretty much set the race in motion for us. After that somehow all those yellows kind of got us back in the hunt but we couldn’t do any better than p16 which is a pretty good recovery, all things considered.”

Alex Palou capitalized to snare the win when Josef Newgarden slowed with two laps to go with transmission woes. Finishing second through fifth were Colton Herta, Will Power, Scott Dixon and Romain Grosjean.

Bourdais discusses the race with (L to R) engineers Daniele Cucchiaroni and Justin Taylor, Foyt, and Technical Director Mike Colliver.

Foyt acknowledged the team’s misfortunes of late, saying, “We just can’t get off these tough weekends right now. We’re showing some decent pace but we’re not able to capitalize and get the results. We had electrical gremlins with the 4 car and it ended our day early. We’re trying to diagnose what happened there. The 14 car was really just getting its race started and we had a tough pitstop on the first stop. Then we lost some rear camber shims over some curbs which forced us to make a quick repair. The guys hung in there and Seb drove a hard race. We were able to get our lap back, and the yellow at the end caught us back up and we were able to pass some cars and finish 16th. Everybody’s got their head down, but we just have to get back and get this turned around.”

The NTT INDYCAR Series returns to action in two weeks at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Honda Indy 200 will be broadcast live Sunday, July 4th on NBC starting at 12 noon ET.

Qualifying Report: REV Group Grand Prix

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 19, 2021) —Under sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-70s, qualifying at Road America today took a surprise turn as Josef Newgarden chose new primary tires instead of used alternate Firestones in the final round of qualifying to earn the pole for the REV Group Grand Prix. The increased tire degradation has been the talk in the paddock this weekend and it should make for an interesting race tomorrow with different strategies coming into play.

Driving the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet, Sebastien Bourdais advanced to the second round in qualifying for

the third time in five of the street/road course races run this season. He ran in the top-10 in the previous two 45-minute practice sessions yesterday afternoon and this morning. As the track heated up, the challenge heated up as well. He will start 11th.

“Pretty decent qualifying for the ROKiT 14 Chevrolet at AJ Foyt Racing,” Bourdais said. “Just missing a little bit to make it to the Fast Six. Still trying to figure out everything we need to do but good progress and we’ll keep working at it.”

Dalton Kellett improved his lap times from yesterday to today as his No. 4 K-Line Insulators crew made some changes to the car overnight.

We closed the gap up a little bit in qualifying,” Kellett said, adding, “but it wasn’t really enough to get further out of Round 1 but definitely some improvements from practice. That in-lap was on for a 46.5 (one minute, 46.5 seconds), but just had a big lock-up in [turn] 8 and that cost us four or five tenths. A bit of a struggle there, but definitely happy with the progression we made from the start of the weekend. We’ve got some good data to look at to compare to Seb and see where he was quicker, looks like mostly in Turns 1 and 2, those high commitment corners, so getting up to speed with that. Looking forward to seeing what we can do in final practice and seeing what we have for the race.”

Rounding out the Firestone Fast 6 were: Colton Herta, Jack Harvey, Will Power, Alex Palou and Simon Pagenaud.

Teams will have a final practice this afternoon. The REV Group Grand Prix will be broadcast live tomorrow on NBC Sports Network starting at 12 noon ET.

Notes & Quotes: REV Group Grand Prix at Road America

The NTT INDYCAR Series returns to Road America this weekend where Sebastien Bourdais, driving the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet, and his teammate Dalton Kellett, in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, will compete against 23 other drivers on the picturesque 4-mile road course.

Sebastien Bourdais on Road America: “Looking forward to Road America, a place that I’ve always very much enjoyed. It’s gotten a lot rougher and harder on tires and it’s a tricky place, but I think if we can get the car in the zone, I think it’s a place where I know I can find my way around. I’m looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait to get to Wisconsin.”

Dalton Kellett on Road America: “Road America is definitely one of the coolest tracks on our schedule and long, four miles. Pretty excited. Lots of big variation corners, really high-commitment, high-speed corners, some cooler low speed stuff, and definitely one of the prettiest tracks that we go to. It’s a classic American road course — so super excited. We’ve gotten better and better with our cars on road courses this year and I feel like I’m learning every weekend, so definitely looking forward to it.”

Justin Taylor has been going to Road America since the 1990s when he used to help his dad who was involved in SCCA. He engineered JR Hildebrand when he worked for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2017 (JR finished 16th) and the Mazda Dpi team in 2018. We asked him about Road America.

Taylor discusses tire temps with Bourdais following a practice session earlier this season.

What do you see as the biggest challenges in coming up with a setup?

JT: “Road America has a pretty good mix of low, medium and high speed corners as well as some long straights, so it’s just about finding the right compromise to be fast in the right places.” Is this a track that engineers have a love/hate relationship with?

JT: “There’s no question… I love Road Am.” Is Road America unique or can you apply info gleaned from other tracks?

JT: “Since there is such a good mix of corners, there are certainly elements of setup from other tracks that can be useful.” Is it possible to be a fuel saving race or is it too risky because of the length of the track (it’s a long way back to the pits)?

JT: “Fuel saving can always become a factor depending on the flow of the race, so the length of the track just makes it more exciting for the guys on the pit stand.”

Chris Tucker, crew chief and outside front tire changer for the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, got a weekend pass to be present at the birth of his child who is due to arrive this weekend. Veteran mechanic and outside front tire changer Pat Nelson will take charge in Tucker’s absence. Should be a very Happy Father’s Day for the Tucker family.

Tucker motions to Kellett during a pitstop to hold as crew finishes its work.

A.J. Foyt will also be missing in action this weekend. Foyt missed Detroit as well because he is recovering from a heat stroke (hyperthermia) sustained while working outdoors at one of his properties. Foyt explained he had suffered from a heat stroke while racing in the ‘70s which makes him more vulnerable. With temperatures in the West and Southwest expected to hit near-record highs, forecasters are warning that everyone should take precautions as heat (or sun) strokes can occur when core body temperatures rise to 104 degrees from the normal 98.6 degrees. “I feel much better now,” said Foyt, adding, “but my doctors want me to take it easy for now so I’m trying to listen to them.”

Past Performance: Sebastien Bourdais’ best start is from the pole with Newman-Haas Racing in 2007, the year he won. In his prior three starts, he won the pole once and outside pole twice, he finished on the podium with one second and two thirds. Recently, his best start is sixth in 2018 (Dale Coyne with Vasser-Sullivan) and best finish is 12th in 2019 with the same team. Dalton Kellett made two starts as a rookie in 2020, starting 23rd and finishing 20th in both races. AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is 8th in 1993 with Eddie Cheever, and its best finish is eighth in 1991 with Mike Groff. The team did not compete in IndyCar races at Road America from 1996-2007. In the past six races, the team’s best finish is 10th with Charlie Kimball last year.

The REV Group Grand Prix at Road America will be broadcast live by the NBC Sports Network Sunday, June 20 starting at 12 noon ET. The practices and qualifying will be streamed live on Peacock.

Race Report: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix – Race 2

DETROIT (June 13, 2021)—The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 2 wrapped up the NTT INDYCAR Series weekend with a sunny, not humid, day on Belle Isle which made for a more comfortable race for the fans as well as the drivers.

Once again qualifying in the morning, Sebastien Bourdais just missed on transferring out of the first round and started 13th in the ROKiT Chevrolet. Teammate Dalton Kellett started 24th in the K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.

As is the tradition in Detroit, the over-the-wall pit crews are introduced along with the drivers which provides a shoutout to these unsung heroes.

The 70-lap race started shortly after but on the first lap, Bourdais took evasive action over the third turn curbing to avoid a driver who slammed the door on him. Bourdais lost four spots and Max Chilton took the brunt of the chain reaction accident as a full course yellow ensued. However, Chilton was able to rejoin the race.

Bourdais took the opportunity provided by the caution to pit and switch out the Firestone alternate tires for primaries.

The front tire changers, Warren Wilson (L) and Thomas Semik, adjust the front wing before sending Bourdais.

Kellett’s team kept him out to gain track position as six cars also pitted. Bourdais dropped to 21st and Kellett popped up to 16th.

Going according to plan, Kellett pitted on lap 18 but a miscue on the stop resulted in Kellett having to stop at pit out and wait until the pit stop cycle ended so the team could safely tow him back to his pit. The ordeal cost him eight laps and the race then became a test session as Kellett used the time to learn what he could.

The 14 team figured there would be a full course yellow since Kellett was in a dangerous location. They told Bourdais to duck into the pits to take advantage of pitting before the yellow. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off as the caution never came thus changing the original fuel strategy.

When it’s not your day, it’s not your day. Bourdais lost ground in Turn 3 when he had some trouble under braking forcing him into the runoff around the midpoint of the race. Although he got back on track quickly, he lost some of the ground he had made up earlier. However, he soldiered on to gain a few more spots and finished 16th.

“A promising weekend here at Detroit that still didn’t yield any kind of results we were hoping for,” said the two-time winner of this event. “I think we had quite a bit more pace than the results show, but unfortunately, all that matters are the results and we just didn’t get it done this weekend. Simply not good enough and we’re going to try and come back stronger next week.”

Kellett finished 23rd and explained why their race became a test session after the first pit stop. Taking responsibility and being accountable isn’t always easy but it shows great character.

“Alright, well that was a tough one today, we had an issue in pit lane,” the 27-year-old Canadian said. “I’d say a big part of it’s on me. The guys have been so smooth and so quick, I was kind of getting in that muscle memory of launching as soon as the fuel probe is out. We had an issue on the right rear, and when I was looking at the outside front, I just didn’t wait to see him send me. I just went early and the right rear [tire] wasn’t quite on so I had to stop at the end of pit lane and get dragged all the way back to our box. We went down a number of laps which was pretty frustrating.”

Although frustrated with the situation, Kellett also noted that there were some positives he took from the race weekend.

“I think coming out of this weekend, our qualifying performance was definitely a big step up from where we’ve been. We were only a tenth or two from being in the middle of our group so I think that was a really good job and the car’s race pace, once we got going, was actually pretty good, so from a driving standpoint, pretty happy. The car felt great, the Foyt guys gave me a good wagon this weekend.”

The Detroit River and city skyline provide the spectacular backdrop for Kellett’s Chevy.

“You know we succeed as a team and we lose as a team,” Kellett continued. “We will learn from what went wrong and make sure we add that into our procedures moving forward and have a good race next weekend.”

Pato O’Ward won the race, becoming the first driver to win twice this season. He also took the lead in the points race with his victory. Second through fifth were pole winner Josef Newgarden, Alex Palou, Colton Herta and Graham Rahal.

The REV Group Grand Prix at Road America will be broadcast live on NBCSN Sunday, June 20th starting at 12 noon ET.

Race Report: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix – Race 1

DETROIT (June 12, 2021)—Race 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix was a crazy one to say the least. It took nearly three and a half hours to complete the grueling grind, which was stopped twice for accidents, but it yielded yet another fresh face in the NTT IndyCar Series winner’s circle, Marcus Ericsson!

Qualifying took place on race morning. Pato O’Ward won the pole while Sebastien Bourdais advanced out of the first round to the Firestone Fast 12 and started 10th in the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet. Teammate Dalton Kellett started 24th in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators Chevrolet.

Fuel strategies began as early as lap 2 as four cars dove into the pits to shed their alternate (red) tires while the pole winner O’Ward came in a lap later, while leading no less, to change to the primary compound tires. Bourdais told strategist Larry Foyt that the alternates were wearing fast and Foyt told him to pit on lap 5 which he did along with outside pole sitter Alexander Rossi.

The adjusted fuel strategy appeared to be working until lap 23 when the yellow came out for Felix Rosenqvist’s hard crash into the tires and concrete barrier in Turn 6. Difficulty in extricating Rosenqvist from the car (so as not to cause further injury) and the need to fix the track’s barrier, caused officials to stop the race three laps later.

Rosenqvist was transported to the hospital and will be kept overnight for evaluation; INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows issued this statement: “Following his crash during the race Felix Rosenqvist received an initial evaluation at the infield care center at Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. He was then transferred to Detroit Receiving Hospital for advanced imaging and evaluation by the trauma and neurological services. Evaluation revealed no life or limb threatening injuries, he remains awake and alert, he will be observed overnight prior to discharge from the hospital.” The team announced this evening that Oliver Askew will drive tomorrow for Rosenqvist.

Bourdais, who was running ninth at the time, was caught out by the yellow along with the eight cars ahead of him. They all had to pit for fuel once the race resumed under caution. Bourdais dropped to 18th (behind those who did not have to pit) despite a solid stop.

A second red flag with five laps to go set up the strange sequence of events. Romain Grosjean crashed in Turn 9 at a narrow part of the course causing officials to throw a second red flag to allow emergency crews to remove his car safely.

Will Power, who had led the most laps, saw his chance for his first win of the season evaporate when his car failed to start after the second red flag which was brought on by Romain Grosjean’s crash in turn 9. Grosjean was not injured.

The race was restarted about 10 minutes later. Bourdais worked his way back to 11th by the end of the 70-lapper.

“Kind of a mixed-bag day here in Detroit for race one,” said Bourdais, who appeared to be physically drained. “We started tenth, finished eleventh, with a lot of things going on so not entirely satisfied with the result. I feel like we had quite a fast car but didn’t quite catch the breaks and got a bit of an unlucky yellow so we’ll go back harder tomorrow, try and qualify higher up and get a better day.”

Kellett had an uneventful race. He posted solid pit stops and finished 18th which matches his best finishes of the season.

“Part one of the dual in Detroit is wrapped up bringing that No. 4 K-Line Insulators Team Chevy home P18 ,” said Kellett, adding, “relatively happy with that. Came in early to get off the reds as we’d been finding that there’s quite a bit of degradation there, so had to do a bit of fuel saving the last couple stints. Our pace on trying to hit a big fuel number was alright, so just need to find a little bit more and then we’ll be right in the hunt. The car feels really good. Definitely missed it in qualifying this morning, was on a kind of mid-seventeen and tagged the wall coming out of (turn) 11, so I know there’s a lot more in it for tomorrow morning.”

Following Ericsson across the line were: Rinus Veekay, O’Ward, Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal.

Qualifying for tomorrow’s race gets underway at 9 am ET. The race will be broadcast on NBC starting at 12 noon ET.

Notes & Quotes: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Presented by Lear

Quincy, Michigan native Craig Baranouski has worked for A.J. Foyt for 34 years, more than half of the 61-year-old’s life. That’s staying power. Currently living in Hempstead, Texas, Baranouski has been the team manager for AJ Foyt Racing since the early 2000s. He began there as a mechanic and has been through many of the team’s highs and lows. When Foyt, 86, needs help with one of his many projects, Baranouski is either Foyt’s first call or the first one to volunteer his services. We asked him a few questions…

How did you get involved in racing?

CB: “I started helping out at the local track on weekends [Butler Motor Speedway in Steuben County]. I started helping Brayton Racing as a weekend warrior and then became full-time with Brayton Racing in 1981. Scott and I had a lot of mutual friends that brought us together.”

Do you remember the first race of any kind that you saw in person?

CB: “Sprint cars at Butler Motor Speedway.”

What was your first job in racing?

CB: “Weekend warrior – fueler.”

When did you realize you could make a career out of it?

CB: “When my full-time job (mechanic for a trucking line) wanted me to move, I decided if I want to travel I’d rather do it in Motorsports. I was working for a trucking line repairing trucks and they closed the terminal in Coldwater (Brayton’s home base) and they wanted me to move to Indy. I didn’t move for the trucking line, instead I worked full-time for Brayton Racing.”

Where did you work before Foyt’s team?

CB: “I worked for Brayton Racing from 1981 to 1986, Patrick Racing for the 1986 season and in 1987, I went to Foyt.”

After suffering critical injuries at Road America in September, 1990, Foyt qualified on the front row for the 1991 Indy 500. He took individual pictures with each crew member after the front row photo shoot. Here he poses with Baranouski.

How did it come about that you worked for Foyt?

CB: “In 1986, I worked at Patrick Racing and it was much different working on a big team compared to working at Brayton Racing. At the end of 1986, A.J. had asked me if I was Interested in working for him. By then I had been doing motorsports full-time for four or five years. Going to work for A.J. gave me the opportunity to go stock car racing, sports car racing and Indy car racing. And it let me get back to a smaller team where you got to do more varied work instead of just one area of the car. That’s the one thing I found that working on a bigger team, you were limited in the areas you were allowed to work.”

Baranouski changed the outside rear tire on this 1987 pitstop. Note tire changers wore hats not helmets! Longtime crew members Cecil Taylor on outside front and John Fisher on inside rear tire, both of whom have passed.

You grew up in Michigan, how did you adjust to life in Texas?

CB: “I don’t miss the cold in the winter or the snow; I enjoy the sun year round!”

What are your responsibilities with the team?

CB: “Oversee the purchasing department, work with the mechanics and engineers and their needs, and take care of A.J. and whatever he needs.”

You were working for Foyt when he was still driving. How has he changed since those


CB: “He was much more hands-on when he was driving and more interested in the team. Now he has turned more of the day-to-day operations over to Larry Foyt so he has more time for his own projects outside of the team.”

What is your fondest memory in racing?

CB: “The Billy Boat and Kenny Brack era of AJ Foyt Racing in IndyCar. We won a lot of races and a lot of poles during those years.”

Do you have any regrets?

CB: “Yes — that we never changed the way Lola designed the brake pedal mount. That failure changed A.J.’s life and everyone around him.”

Do you have any pet peeves?

CB: “People who drive slow in the left lane; it’s a passing lane not a cruising lane.”

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

CB: “Dealing with the shops being in two different places.”

What is the best part of working for the team?

CB: “Getting paid to go racing and being able to help A.J. with whatever he needs.”

What do you do when you’re not racing?

CB: “Hunting, motorcycling, spending time at the hunting ranch (Foyt Game Ranch), spending time with my family.”

Although he does most of his hunting in West Texas, Craig took this cougar down in Pinedale, Wyoming.

Craig with his family (L to R): youngest son Robert Alan, father Bob, stepdaughter Hilda and oldest son Craig Alan Jr.

During the onset of the pandemic, you and A.J. headed to his ranch in West Texas. Tell us about that time. How long were you there and what did you do?

CB: “It was a four-day trip that turned into 42-day trip that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It kept us away from people and I got to spend a lot of time outdoors. We did everything from mowing pastures to A.J. teaching me how to run a bulldozer to demolishing an old house and burying a mile of water pipe. Plus any other little projects that A.J. wanted to do. He worked hard every day.”

Who has been the greatest influence in your life and why?

CB: “My Father and A.J. for teaching me right from wrong and to work with my hands.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS on Detroit: “Detroit is a very challenging track in general. It is very bumpy, a mix of asphalt and concrete, plus some pretty high speed corners and a very unforgiving place so you have to be on your toes. With the nature of the weekend, you have to do it twice. It’s a very compressed schedule with very low practice and a lot of qualifying and racing. The [hot] weather combined with the aeroscreen is going to make it very physically challenging. There’s a lot of dehydration in those conditions on somewhat slower street tracks. Ventilation is not incredibly good on street courses inside the cockpit, it gets very quickly to the 110-120 (temperature) range, therefore you start sweating a lot including your hand and that tends to lead to a lot of blistering. So having two races o a row will be quite tough but that’s why we are getting paid I guess. I’m looking forward to the weekend, it’s been pretty good to us in the past although it’s kind of been feast or famine to be honest. It’s always been a track that I’ve very much enjoyed and like to take on the challenge. Hopefully our street course stuff that’s been working pretty well transfers positively to Detroit, and we can get the bowtie up front and try to get them a win.”

Bourdais is a two-time winner of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix having won in 2015 and 2016. He missed the 2017 event as he was recovering from serious injuries sustained in qualifying for the 2017 Indianapolis 500. Bourdais won the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.

Bourdais won the pole in his first career INDYCAR race in 2003 at St. Petersburg driving for Newman-Haas, the team with whom he won his record four straight championship titles. In his past 13 Chevrolet Detroit Grands Prix, Bourdais has started in the top-10 six times and finished in the top-10 four times, including his two victories.

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

DALTON KELLETT on Detroit: ““I’m really looking forward to this weekend at Belle Isle for the dual in Detroit. This is my first time racing at Belle Isle but I’ve been there once before. In 2016, w I was driving the pace car, giving rides around the track in a Chevy Impala but it was only about 3 quarters of a lap because you just do an in and out lap for that. Really excited to be going there. It looks like a bumpy, fast, fun track. I haven’t had the chance to race there so it’ll be a new learning experience for me. This will be the first time in a quite a while that I’ve been at a track that I haven’t raced at before, so I’m looking forward to that process of coming to a new track without any preconceived notions, just kind of learning it as we go. I’ll definitely be tapping into Seb’s experience. He’s been successful there so he’ll be a good resource. Our cars have been pretty good on the street courses this year so I’m looking forward to continuing with that package. It’s home turf for Team Chevy this weekend so definitely going for a good result here. We’re going to see what we can do in Motor City.”

Kellett will be making his first start at the 2.35-mile, 14-turn street course in an Indy car this weekend. The only time he was on this course previously was in 2016 when he was giving pace car rides in a Chevrolet Impala.

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

Past Performance for Foyt at Belle Isle: AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is from the pole in Race 2 in 2014 with Takuma Sato; Sato also scored the team’s best finish of second in Race 2 in 2015 when Bourdais won his first of two races here.

Last Race: At the Indianapolis 500, Bourdais started 27th and finished 26th after ducking in for a splash of fuel with three laps to go. Kellett started 30th and finished 23rd. Driving the team’s third entry in a one-off appearance, JR Hildebrand started 22nd and finished 15th.

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader will be televised live on NBC on Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13, starting at 2:00 PM ET and 12 noon PM ET respectively. Qualifying for Race 1 will be broadcast live on NBCSN on Saturday from 11 to 12:00 PM ET. Qualifying for Race 2 will be broadcast live Sunday morning from 9:00 to 10:30 AM ET. The Friday evening practice and qualifying will be available on NBC’s subscription-based streaming service, Peacock.

Race Report: Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS May 30, 2021—The fans came back to the Indianapolis 500 and they left after watching history be made today! Helio Castroneves realized a dream by becoming a four-time Indy 500 winner and joined the elite trio of A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

The elusive fourth which Castroneves had been chasing since winning for a third time in 2009, came while he was driving for Meyer Shank Racing. It was the first Indianapolis 500 that Castroneves drove a car not owned by Roger Penske.

In the final stint of the race, Castroneves traded the lead back and forth several times with a young Alex Palou and the cagey veteran waited until the penultimate lap to make his winning move. He had to fend off Palou and gauge the traffic ahead of him without getting boxed in. He managed to do just that and tied the record of four triumphs while also giving Meyer Shank Racing its first ever INDYCAR win at motorsports’ biggest stage – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The crowd roared its approval of the popular Brazilian’s victory.

Upon seeing the 46-year-old Brazilian take the checkered, A.J. Foyt, the first four-time Indy 500 winner remarked, “He deserved it, he worked hard to get it and he finally got it. It wasn’t given to him and when someone works as hard as he did, I’m glad it happened for him. As I said, he deserved it.”

Palou finished second in just his second attempt here, followed by Simon Pagenaud, Pato O’Ward and Ed Carpenter.

JR Hildebrand finished 15th after starting 22nd in the No. 1 ABC Supply Chevrolet. He was among seven cars that got caught out by an early yellow caused by Stefan Wilson’s accident on pit road which closed the pits in the middle of the pit stop cycle. Hildebrand had to pit for fuel (or run out of it on track) in a closed pit and then pit again for a full service stop. The penalty for the splash of fuel in a closed pit is to be put to the back of the field.

Hildebrand summed up his race, saying, “Honestly the car felt great for a lot of the race. We got caught out on an early yellow. We were making really good fuel economy so we didn’t pit before the yellow, and then we had to pit [for fuel] under a closed pit so that sent us to the back and that was really unfortunate. Even with a bunch of other cars that had to do that– we ended up cycling to the back of those cars, so we were basically all the way to the back at the beginning of the race.

“At that point we just couldn’t catch a break,” he continued. “We were actually okay at passing cars on track but just kept getting knocked back on a couple of the pit cycles. From the halfway point forward, all we did was make ground back up. We were able to claw back up to 15th. It was one of those deals, if there were another 100 laps, I think we would have been in the top 10, once we were on the same strategy as everybody else. The car was really good. Bummed for everybody at AJ Foyt Racing and ABC Supply, all the guys on the 1 crew did an awesome job. Unfortunately, when you have one of those deals, and the car feels good and the guys are doing a great job in the pits, it just doesn’t pan out but that’s Indy and we’ll come back for more.”

Dalton Kellett started 30th and finished 23rd in the insulators USA Chevrolet in his second start at Indy.

“I finished my first Indy 500 because last year I didn’t make it all the way to the finish so that’s definitely goal number one accomplished,” Kellett said afterwards. “The No. 4 crew was great in the pits all day. Scott [Harner, strategist] and Mike [Pawlowski, race engineer] did a good job on the stand calling strategy.

“I didn’t quite have it in traffic to stay close and get good runs on guys,” Kellett continued. “The car felt good by itself and in a small pack, but really struggling at the tail end [of the pack] with the big aero wash. Overall, it was definitely a good learning experience but we’ll put all this in the bank and come back stronger next time.”

Kellett ran his longest race to date in his 14th start in the NTT INDYCAR Series with this event. None the worse for wear, he found time to plug his new sponsor KITS Eyewear.

“It’s been an exciting week. We’re happy to have KITS come on board and if you haven’t yet, remember, FREEKITSINDY and get a free pair of sunglasses. They have all kinds and all you have to do is pay shipping.”

Sebastien Bourdais dropped back at the start in his No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet but then seemed to catch a break when he pitted and successfully wended his way through Wilson’s accident on pit road on lap 34. The same accident that cost Hildebrand and several others track position, netted out for Bourdais with a gain of six spots to restart in 18th.

As different fuel strategies began to play out, the team rolled the dice after the halfway mark of the 200-lapper betting that Bourdais would be able to save enough fuel while in the draft. However, he was in a pack of cars where no one wanted to lead because everyone was trying to save fuel. It soon became clear that unless there was a yellow late in the race, he would have to pit for fuel. And he did on lap 197, dropping from 17th to 26th.

“Not our day today for the ROKiT Chevrolet No. 14,” said the four-time INDYCAR champion. “Obviously, we gave it our best shot starting 27th, but never really made the huge leaps forward. We seemed to be gaining some positions but then with 80 laps to go, we decided to try the fuel strategy and make it on one more stop from there. Unfortunately, we just came up short and had to make a splash and gave up a bunch of positions, but at least the guys tried something. We’ll move onto Detroit and try to make it up there.”

One person who seemed thrilled by the whole event was motorsports star Tony Stewart who came as a guest of A.J.’s and a co-entrant on Hildebrand’s No. 1 ABC Supply Chevrolet.

“I had a blast,” Stewart commented. “It was such an honor to get the invite from A.J. to come do this. I hated that I missed practice and qualifying, but to be here on race day and sit on the box with him and us talk about what we were seeing strategy-wise in the race, and bouncing around between the 14 car and the 1 car and seeing what was going on and the strategy and trying to figure out how to make track position, and fuel mileage.”

“Fuel mileage races aren’t always the most exciting races here at Indy but to watch how everything shook out, that’s an experience of a lifetime,” said Stewart, who turned 50 on May 20th.

“For anybody that has a hero that they personally know to have a day like this where they get to sit in the box beside your all-time hero and enjoy the good things that are happening and listen to him complain about the bad things that are happening, those are experiences that you can’t put a value on. Hopefully, he forgets he asked me this year, he’ll get amnesia and he’ll ask me to do it again next year and I can come back. It was a lot of fun to be back here at Indy for the 500, and to be here with him, it’s the experience of a lifetime.”

Stewart also had an interesting perspective on Castroneves tying the record of most Indy 500 wins.

“That wasn’t easy at the end to see Castroneves set there and deal with lapped traffic and three cars that were right behind him for position,” Stewart said. “It’s hard enough when you’re leading the race and you ‘ve got guys behind you but when you’re catching a group of eight cars in the last two laps, that is, I guarantee you, a very, very stressful situation. I thought he managed the traffic well, didn’t get himself boxed in at the end if the race there. He managed the run he got on the lapped traffic and was able to hold onto the lead. I’ve sat here [in A.J.’s garage] and watched the replays here, and he probably ran a mile down the front straightaway and back celebrating so you can’t ask for a better return after a year when you didn’t have fans here, to have someone like Castroneves win the race, tie the record for most Indy 500 victories in a year when you have fans come back. For INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I don’t think you could ask for a better finish.”

The NTT INDYCAR Series has next weekend off and then moves to Belle Isle in Detroit for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader the weekend of June 12-13. The races will be broadcast on NBC at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday and 12 noon ET on Sunday.

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