Archives for A.J. Foyt Racing PR

FORTO Speeds Up AJ Foyt Racing

WALLER, Texas—FORTO aims to speed things up at AJ Foyt Racing!

FORTO coffee shots, one of the fastest-growing ready-to-drink coffee brands in the U.S., signed as an associate sponsor of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet driven by Matheus Leist in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the remainder of the 2018 season. The FORTO logo is displayed on the engine cover of the 19-year-old’s Indy car.

“FORTO coffee shots are speedy products, offering consumers a superfast coffee energy boost! Partnering with AJ Foyt Racing and getting involved with IndyCar made perfect sense for us,” said Neel Premkumar, FORTO founder & CEO.

The brand has been involved in sports car racing but this marketing partnership is their first foray into the IndyCar arena. Marketing support will focus heavily on social media to target millennial consumers as well as race fans.

“We are thrilled to welcome FORTO to our team,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “We think their product will appeal to IndyCar fans and race teams like ours who want to enjoy the energy benefits of coffee on-the-go. We look forward to building this relationship and helping FORTO build its brand.”

FORTO’s ready-to-drink Colombian cold brew coffee shots offer regular strength (100mg) or extra strength (200mg) caffeine options in a two-ounce, travel-friendly shot. The certified all-natural, Organic, Fair Trade shots are available in six flavors.

Race Report: DXC Technology 600

FORT WORTH – Despite the high hopes coming into the DXC Technology 600, the race at Texas Motor Speedway was over before it really began for A.J. Foyt’s ABC Supply team.

Matheus ‘Matt’ Leist started 19th and began working his way through the field when he slowed in Turn 2 and headed for the deceleration lane as his car caught on fire just five laps into the race. He climbed out quickly after bringing it to a halt. He was not injured in the incident.

“We were having a solid start I think and then I just lost power in Turn 1,” Leist related.

“I told the team “No power. No power.” And then suddenly I just saw flames coming up from the engine cover. We don’t know what happened. The only thing is that it is a pity for the team. I feel for the team not just for myself. I think we had a great car here and we could have done a great race here. It is what it is. It happens sometimes. Looking forward to the next one now.”

Tony Kanaan, who started sixth, vaulted to fourth on the first lap. The following lap he slipped back to sixth when his car pushed high in Turn 2. Kanaan was running sixth up to lap 20 when eventual winner Scott Dixon passed him.

Kanaan’s young teammate hadn’t finished his post-race interviews when Kanaan was in pit lane on lap 27 with a broken rear suspension after brushing the wall in Turn 2. The crew replaced the suspension and Kanaan went back out and ran about four laps but A.J. Foyt told him to park it because they were so many laps down.

“I don’t know what happened,” Kanaan said. “We definitely had a little issue with the rear of the car and it cost us the race. But it was a great weekend up until now, we qualified sixth. You know when you’re 12 laps down, it’s not worth it to put yourself out there. We’re not going to gain anything so we decided to stop. We’ll bounce back.”

Scott Dixon won the race to move into the championship lead and third on the all-time win list behind A.J. Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti (52). Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five.

The No. 4 team heads to Road America to test with Leist this week, while Kanaan heads to France to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans next weekend. The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action in two weeks at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. The Kohler Grand Prix will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network June 24 starting at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Qualifying Report: DXC Technology 600

FORT WORTH – At the home track of his boss A.J. Foyt, Tony Kanaan has made Texas Motor Speedway his own. In 18 starts, he has finished on the podium nine times!

Kanaan will start sixth in the DXC Technology 600km tomorrow night in his 19th start here. He was quickest in practice this afternoon under hot sunny conditions but that time was also with the benefit of a tow. His ‘no tow speed’ was sixth quick so the grid position did not come as a surprise to him.

“A good run,” Kanaan summed up after his two-lap average speed of 219.157mph in

 the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. “I didn’t think we were going to have it for the pole anyway so I think if we’re in the top six, it’s a good spot to start and a great way to start the weekend. I think we have a good car for the race.  I think we’re improving as a team every weekend so hopefully, this will be a turnaround. Our best finish was last weekend so we’ll try to do a lot better than seventh.”

Matheus ‘Matt’ Leist had a mechanical problem in practice which the team did not sort out until after the practice session so he was not able to run a qualifying setup until his qualifying run. Posting a two-lap average speed of 216.092mph, Leist will start 19th in his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet.

However, the youngster was matter-of-fact about the challenges he faced here and said, “We had a mechanical problem in practice and it was a completely different car to drive in qualifying but we are racing drivers and we just have to adapt to everything.”

With it being his first time at the 1.5-mile, high-banked track, Leist had a lot to adapt to in the 90-minute long practice session, of which 30 minutes were set aside by INDYCAR for teams to scuff in tires as a safety precaution for tomorrow night’s race because of the high heat this weekend. The extra heat cycle makes the tires a bit harder and less subject to blistering.

“It’s a pretty difficult track to be honest, not that easy,” Leist said after his qualifying run. “Really just trying to go step by step, I think we have a great car here and I look forward to the race tomorrow. I know it’s going to be a long race and it’s been a tough one the past few years so hopefully, we will have a good one.”

Team Penske swept the first three spots with defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden taking the pole with an average speed of 220.613mph. Second through fifth were: Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Robert Wickens and Sebastien Bourdais.

The race will be televised on NBC Sports Network tomorrow night starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Race Report: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 2

June 2, 2018 DETROIT – “Great day for us. I had to redeem myself for this morning,” Tony Kanaan said after driving his No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet from 22nd to seventh in Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Sunday afternoon on Belle Isle. Kanaan spun in qualifying in wet conditions on the 2.35-mile…

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Race Report: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 1

AJ Foyt Enterprises celebrates Tony Kanaan’s 350th career start. (Photo courtesy AJ Foyt Racing)

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix marked a milestone for Tony Kanaan who competed in his 350th IndyCar Series race today in the beautiful setting of Belle Isle. The race also marked his 290th consecutive race which is an IndyCar Series record, lending Kanaan the nickname of Ironman.

Kanaan, an amateur triathlete, started 15th and appeared to be headed for a top-10 finish in his No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet as the team’s fuel strategy was working — Graham Rahal lost control and hit the wall, bringing out a full course yellow. Rahal was not injured in the hard hit in Turn 13.

Another accident 10 laps later sealed Kanaan’s fate. Charlie Kimball punted rookie Ferrucci Santino into the wall and Santino vaulted across the track just in front of Kanaan, whose quick reflexes and even quicker thinking allowed him to miss the car. Santino was stunned but not hurt.

Kanaan was disappointed with the outcome but pleased with his car and team’s performance.

“We passed a lot of cars today,” said Kanaan, who placed 15th. “We gambled with the strategy and we knew it could work or not and that last yellow killed us but it is what it is. We have to qualify better which we are working on because track position is so important. When you start playing with strategy like that, I told the boys we were either going to finish inside the top 10 or we’re gonna finish where we started. But I’m happy, the pit stops were good so we just have to keep working on the items we need to make better.”

The two accidents also played against Matheus “Matt” Leist’s game plan as he was on a similar fuel strategy to Kanaan. Leist started 21st and placed 15th in his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. For the 19th year-old Brazilian, the race was the seventh of his IndyCar Series career.

“It was a tough race starting 21st,” said Leist. “I think we were ok until the yellow came out for Graham, it messed up our strategy. I think we made some improvements in the car but the race didn’t go our way at the end. So we will improve the car and try to have a great race tomorrow.”

The race was won by Scott Dixon who tied Michael Andretti for career wins at 42. Second through fourth were Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and pole sitter Marco Andretti. Takuma Sato rounded out the top five.

Race 2 of the doubleheader takes place tomorrow afternoon on the 2.35-mile course. It will be broadcast by ABC-TV starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Notes & Quotes: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear

Pat Jordan. Photo courtesy A.J. Foyt Racing

Pat Jordan is a mechanic on the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet and is the Fueler on pit stops for the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Involved in racing since 1996, Jordan began working with AJ Foyt Racing in 2007 and has been with the team continually except for the 2009-10 seasons. Following are some of his thoughts on the Indy 500 and the upcoming race in Detroit’s Belle Isle.

On overall feeling after the Indy 500: “The overall feeling was that they know AJ Foyt Racing is back! Matheus ran a great first Indy 500…he ran all day long and learned a lot. Tony did what Tony does when he has a good car — ran up front and led laps!  Pit stops were solid on both cars all day as well.”

On being in a firesuit in 90-degree weather: “The pre-race was worse than the actual race because you’re moving around getting the car ready and then out to the grid. So you have to step back and stay hydrated and keep movement down. During the race you move seven seconds seven or eight times [pit stops] so you can stay cooler.”

On how he prepared for the heat: “Stay hydrated with water and electrolytes and eat a couple of bananas.”

On getting cars prepped for Detroit: “We prep our “street/road course” car which involves installing an engine, gearbox and new brakes, and cleaning the other components from the previous race [Indy GP].  It’s all done in just two days!”

On the schedule the past six weeks: “It has been a long stretch for sure between working at our shop in Indy and working at the Speedway 12 hours a day. We had to build our Speedway cars in Indy so that added some extra hours. We’re on the tail end of that long stretch so looking forward to getting back to Texas!”

On how he deals with the long hours: “Well we are all racers and you have to be on track so it may require a long night here and there. Your body gets somewhat acclimated to it so you just keep rolling.”

On how tough the doubleheaders are on the crews: “It’s not bad if you unload fast. But if you are not fast or have an accident during the weekend, it’s tough–especially if you have a crash in the first race. It keeps the teams hoppin’.”

TONY KANAAN on making his 350th INDYCAR start this Saturday (and his 290th consecutive start), both an INDYCAR record: “It means a lot to me because it reflects my passion for the sport. I feel fortunate to still do what I love. Those are some big numbers so hopefully once we retire, we can keep up with the boss with some records.”

TONY KANAAN on Detroit: “Good memories from Detroit, I won my first race there in the Indy Lights Series, actually won two races in Indy Lights [1996-97] and won the IndyCar race there [2007]. Bumpy track, a doubleheader, very difficult weekend physically and especially so after a stressful month in Indy. I’m looking forward to it. We’re coming with a great momentum in the team so we’ll work to keep it going.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST on Detroit: “First of all, I’ve never been there so we are going to do the sim tomorrow to do some preparation for the race and I think we’ve been pretty strong on the street courses so far so I think the team might have a pretty good setup for Detroit too. It looks like a pretty tricky track, pretty bumpy. I think everyone is starting to get a little bit closer to each other after all the races that we’ve been done so I’m looking forward to a great race and finishing in the top ten.” [On Doubleheader] “I think it’s going to be just the same as Indy Lights, of course the races are longer but it’s still pretty much the same format as the Indy Lights races. Since I started racing single seaters, it’s been like this, two races a weekend, sometimes three races, so I think it’s going to be okay and I’m excited.”

Last Race: In the Indianapolis 500, Tony Kanaan started 10th and ran in the top two for nearly a third of the race. He led 19 laps before a tire puncture caused an out of sequence pit stop. He battled back to 9th before spinning in Turn 2. He placed 25th and is now 13th in points. Matheus Leist started 11th and was the Fastest Rookie qualifier. He finished 13th. Leist is 19th in the points.

Past Performance at Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix: Tony Kanaan’s best start is 4th and his best finish is a win, both in 2007. This will be Matheus Leist’s inaugural start in Detroit. 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.

ABC Supply is in its 14th season as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s IndyCar team, making it the longest running team sponsor in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The company was founded in 1982 by Ken and Diane Hendricks with just three stores. The company now has over 700 stores and topped $9 billion in sales in 2017. ABC Supply began sponsoring the AJ Foyt Racing team with the 2005 Indianapolis 500. The company has leveraged its involvement by entertaining over 92,000 associates and customers over the past 13 racing seasons. This weekend the company will entertain over 300 guests.

ABC Supply roofing customer, D&W Windows & Sunrooms, based in Davison, Mich., won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest. The company name will be on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment plus a Meet and Greet with Tony Kanaan.

L&W Supply, a subsidiary of ABC Supply, selected account Brinker Team Construction, based in Detroit, to be featured on the engine cover of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Matheus “Matt” Leist.

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader will be televised liveon ABC-TV on Saturday, June 2, starting at 3:30 pm ET and on Sunday, June 3, starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Indianapolis 500: Race Report

INDIANAPOLIS—“They knew we were here,” said A.J. Foyt after the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 concluded. For the first time since 2001 when Robby Gordon led 22 laps, a Foyt-owned car was pacing the field–not due to pit stop cycles but because of Tony Kanaan and the flat out speed of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet.

Kanaan served notice from the drop of the green flag, charging from 10th to seventh on the opening lap. On lap 2 he moved into sixth which he held until the first round of pit stops on lap 30. The ABC Supply crew delivered a fast stop under green and Kanaan moved from sixth to second when the stops cycled out.

Through the next round of stops on lap 50, which were under caution, the crew again got him out in time to maintain his position behind pole sitter Ed Carpenter. Kanaan passed Carpenter on lap 63 for the lead but Carpenter took it back two laps later. On lap 73 Kanaan took the lead again and held it until the next round of stops on lap 90.

With another quick stop behind them, Kanaan was back on track moving through traffic when he reported, “There’s something wrong!” Tire sensors showed a problem with the right rear and Kanaan pitted again on lap 98. The tire was punctured from debris.

While Kanaan dropped to the back of the field and went a lap down, rookie Matheus “Matt” Leist was getting an education at 225 mph. Driving beyond his years, the 19-year- old rookie avoided cars that crashed in front of him and managed through several crazy restarts. He ran 13th for the first half of the race but then on lap 121 he moved into the top-10.

Leist stayed in the top-10 through several restarts after cautions until the one on lap 162, when he got chopped badly by a fellow competitor. As Leist gathered it up, the cars behind him pounced including his teammate Kanaan. Leist went from seventh to 14th and Kanaan went from 13th to 9th.

Kanaan was a man on a mission as he tried to gain ground on the leaders. With 11 laps left in the race, he lost the rear and spun in Turn 2. He incurred damage to his right side suspension and the nose assembly, but overall the damage was fairly light.

“Man, the Speedway, right?” Kanaan asked from the infield medical center where he was checked and released.

“We had a great day going and then we had a puncture that put us behind all day long, so I was playing catch up,” Kanaan continued. “It was not for lack of trying, we came back from all the way from the back of the pack to the inside of the top 10. Great restarts and…oh my God. So, it wasn’t our day. I mean we have a great thing going, this team is very promising so we will leave here with our heads up. We had great pit stops, and I mean it wasn’t our day and to finish ninth or last for me it doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to make an excuse, I made a mistake trying and that for me, in my book, it’s totally fine. I’m looking forward to the future on this team.”

Foyt agreed with his driver who stopped to apologize for the single car accident. Foyt told him, “You don’t have to apologize for that. I understand it when you’re trying to get to the front. If you didn’t get that flat [tire] you wouldn’t have been in that situation. It’s racing but you gave them a show. They knew we were here.”

Leist soldiered on to finish 13th in the most grueling race of the season with temperatures in the low 90s. He stayed on the lead lap the entire race. During one caution period when Leist was in ninth, Kanaan radioed in, “The rookie is doing pretty good!”

Once the race concluded, Leist was greeted by his crew, family and friends; he looked none the worse for wear after the three-hour long race.

“First Indy 500 done,” Leist said with his megawatt smile. “I’m pretty happy with the performance – managed to complete the whole race and it was probably the most difficult race I’ve ever done, you know, pretty difficult, pretty tricky and the car was changing a lot from one stint to the other so it was a long day. I’m happy for the team, I think we deserved it, and I’m looking forward to the next race now.”

Larry Foyt, Leist’s race strategist and team president, weighed in, saying, “Matheus did a really nice job for his first time here. He really was top rookie most of the day and got caught out on a restart towards the end there and Wickens got him otherwise I think he would have been top rookie. He really drove a smart race and learned a lot I know. The crew did a great job in the pits and it looked like we had a solid top 10 but we’re just outside of it. I’m really happy for him, I know he learned a lot and this is a tough race. Everything he learned today is going to pay him dividends. He’s showing he’s the real deal and I’m real excited what the future holds for him and the team.”

James Davison, who ran the No. 33 Foyt/Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi Chevrolet, was running 20th in the first stint but then handling problems surfaced after the first stop.  On lap 48, as Davison was dealing with the problems, he was tagged in Turn 3 by defending Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato who apologized afterwards.

“James had a problem with speed and there was too much closing speed between us and I couldn’t avoid him,” Sato relayed. “Once I realized, I backed off and even hit the brakes, but just once you get into an air pocket like that, you just get sucked in.  It’s’ really an unfortunate situation for both of us and I feel really sorry for the team, the fans and supporters.  Robert (Wickens) and I were catching the front of the train, the pack we were in.  Once he got it, I could see two cars side by side. At the time, maybe James was too much in trouble and he had to back off and get in the grey. The speed differential was way too great between us. I tried to avoid it but unfortunately I couldn’t.”

Davison explained his situation saying, “We had an anti-roll bar jam on the car, so I just couldn’t change the balance. I had to do the best with the adversity I faced, if I tried any harder I was going to swap ends. I was getting plenty of warning signs there, if I was anywhere close to another car I was getting huge wiggles and snap oversteer. I just really feel for Takuma getting caught up in that, that’s not at all the situation that you want to drag someone else in to. That’s the Indy 500 though isn’t it, I’m still very proud of this Foyt/Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi team for the adversity we overcame and at least showing some kind of competiveness there in the first stint.”

Driving the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, Will Power won his first Indianapolis 500 in 11 starts while giving his team owner Roger Penske his 17th trip to victory lane here at the Brickyard. Carpenter finished second in his Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. Third through fifth were Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The teams will be prepping their cars for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ only doubleheader, the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix next weekend. The races will be broadcast live on ABC-TV at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3.

Indianapolis 500: Carb Day Report

May 25, 2018 INDIANAPOLIS – Carb Day is the final chance for race teams to fine-tune their cars for the Indianapolis 500. After the one hour practice was checkered, it was Tony Kanaan atop the scoring pylon with a lap speed of 227.791 mph in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. “It was a good day…

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Pole Day Report: Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan and rookie Matheus “Matt” Leist claimed their own “front row” spots when they qualified 10th and 11th for the Indianapolis 500. James Davison exceeded his expectations when he qualified 19th in the No. 33 Jonathan Byrd’s 502 East Chevrolet.

The ABC Supply Chevrolets were the fastest of the 24 cars that set the grid from positions 10 through 33. The first three rows or Fast 9 were set in a separate qualifying segment with Ed Carpenter earning his third Verizon IndyCar Series P-1 award here with a speed of 229.618 mph. Simon Pagenaud and Will Power complete the front row.

Leist, who was 12th fastest Saturday in the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet, qualified at 4:20 p.m. Sunday. His four laps ranged from 227.680mph to 227.305mph, and his four-lap average speed of 227.517mph set fast time of the session with two cars left.

Unfortunately for Leist, one of them was his teammate who had been fast all month.

Kanaan posted a faster first lap (227.745mph) and a faster last lap (227.680) than Leist to put Kanaan’s 227.644mph average at the top of the speed chart. The two ABC Supply Chevrolets will start on the inside and middle of the fourth row.

“It was a great day for us, a great team effort,” said the Brazilian veteran, who will be making his 17th Indy 500 start and 349th IndyCar start on Memorial Day weekend. “We missed the Fast 9 by just a little Saturday but that’s the way it is. Having A.J. tell me all the examples he’s been through made me calm down last night. Awesome effort–that’s what we had to do. Tenth and eleventh was the best we could do and that’s what we did.

“I have to thank A.J. and Larry because they bought two brand new cars for me and Matheus. Matheus is fastest rookie. His success is obviously really rewarding to me, I’m working really close with him. Like I’ve said before, I better step up my game because he is coming fast. The more he learns, the more he is going to beat me so I’ve got to keep an eye on him.”

Leist seemed unphased to be outrun by his teammate and mentor Kanaan.

“Since our first day here, the ABC car has been quick,” said Leist, who is the fastest rookie in qualifying. “We knew that we could have a fast car today. I’m so happy for the team and for Tony. Both crews did an awesome job preparing us for qualifying. We were just fast. I think that if qualifying was yesterday and we had this car, we would probably be in the Fast 9. I’m just so happy for this team. Everyone deserves it. I’m looking forward to the race now.”

Davison was the first to qualify because the grid from Saturday’s times was inverted to determine Sunday’s qualification order; being the 33rd quickest meant Davison took to the track first.

His first lap was over 227 mph, and it was the fastest that he ran at the Speedway this month. His speed on subsequent laps dropped slightly, and he averaged 226.255mph over the four-lap run. He will start on the inside of the seventh row.

“It’s been an incredible weekend for the team after our mishap on Friday,” said Davison who spun coming out of Turn 2 and crashed in practice on Fast Friday. “We had to endure a very long night, obviously it’s always depressing when you have a crashed car around here. We punched above our weight on Bump Day, and got ourselves in the race but didn’t show our hand. We really laid it down on Pole Day to move from 33rd to 19th. It’s basically two days in a row the team has been rewarded for their hard work, making the show and moving up 14 positions on the grid. Unexpected results are always really nice in motorsports and we got that today with our improvement, substantially. Just very proud of the entire team and want to keep the momentum going next week.”

Perhaps no one was as thrilled with the outcome as Larry Foyt, president of A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

“I couldn’t be happier with our team today,” Foyt said. “This year has been an unbelievable amount of work for our mechanics and engineers, and it’s nice to see the effort is paying dividends. We qualified the best we could, and put ourselves in decent starting spots. Now we focus on our race setups. We have a couple practice days left to prepare and we are excited to see what we can do for this 500.”

A.J. Foyt, who qualified 12th as the fastest rookie here sixty years ago, said, “I was really proud of both ABC cars qualifying as high as they could and the other car moved up 14 spots from 33rd yesterday. So I was real happy for all three drivers and I think we’ll have a great race come race day if nobody gets in trouble because we’ve got some fast race cars.”

“We did a lot of testing, really worked hard, and went to the shaker rig and every test we could go to this past winter,” Foyt explained. “We ran pretty fast in the test here and I’m just glad it paid off for the crew because they were working night and day for this race. Let’s just hope we have a good day on race day.”

Race day is Sunday May 27th. The pre-race coverage on ABC-TV begins at 11 a.m. ET with the 200 lapper around the 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway starting slightly after 12 p.m. ET.

Bump Day Report: Indianapolis 500

“Bump Day” is back and so is the major stress associated with four laps of qualifying around Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

For A.J. Foyt, the stress factor was limited to just one of his three entries because the ABC Supply Chevrolets driven by Tony Kanaan and rookie Matheus Leist were safely in the field of 33 cars. For James Davison, it came down to the final minute of qualifying as he and the Foyt/Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi crew breathed a huge sigh of relief when the gun went off signaling the end of qualifying. They were 33rd quickest, on the bubble and as of 5:50 p.m. ET, they were officially in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan and Leist barely missed qualifying for the Fast 9 as they ended up 11th and 12th respectively overall.

Leist posted a thrilling qualifying run (at least to team owner A.J. Foyt) when he went rather low in Turns 1 and 2 and touched the grass and then barely missed brushing the wall in Turns 3 and 4. But the cool-headed Brazilian took it in stride. He posted a four-lap average speed of 227.441mph and his four laps were within a tenth of a second—the fastest was 39.51 seconds (227.779mph) and the slowest was 39.61 seconds (227.209mph).

“Qualifying was pretty good I think, I was pretty comfortable in the car and I’m happy with the performance and happy with the effort of all the ABC crew, I think they did a great job today,” the 19-year-old rookie said. “It was a tough run because the conditions changed so much from yesterday. Yesterday I had one car and today I had a different car but the good thing is that we were still fast. We had a little bit of understeer in turn 1 and 2 and we were a little bit edgy in 3 and 4 but I had my tools so I could control the car. I think I and the team did a great job together.”

Qualifying was halted for rain at 11:52 a.m. and restarted at 2:12 p.m. Rain halted activity a second time at 3:14 pm and it resumed at 4:06 p.m. Kanaan, who was scheduled to go out late (31st of 35 qualifiers) made his qualifying run at 4:35 p.m. under hot, sunny skies. His four laps were run in less than a tenth of a second apart—0.839 seconds.

“It was a good day,” Kanaan said afterwards. “The luck of the draw definitely hurt us a bit. It is what it is. As a team, it’s nice to see A.J. so happy. I wish I could’ve locked in the Fast 9 for him. But it doesn’t matter. Today, the most important thing was to be in the show. We have two cars that are very strong in the show. Tomorrow we will fight for the pole which is for tenth [smiles] then we’ll go win the race. The year that we won here, I started 12th. I believe that we can do it.”

Davison’s team worked through the night to repair his car which crashed in practice yesterday afternoon. In this morning’s practice, he still felt it was a struggle for speed. He was one of the early ones to go out (13th) and he posted an average speed of 224.798mph in the Jonathan Byrd’s 502 East Chevrolet.

“This has been some of the most dramatic 24 hours of my life,” said the 31-year-old Australian who makes his home in Florida. “In 24 hours, I began with doing the Fast Friday/Bump Day qualifying simulations while everyone else was running qualifying simulations. We were 33rd to 35th quickest. We had to try some things to go quicker. We did that and ended up in the wall very hard. I had the biggest accident of my career. A lot of work had to be done by this crew. The only way to repay them and make them feel like this effort was worth it was to make this field.”

Davison qualified at 2:17 p.m. and then had to wait it out until the end of the day as drivers took shots (nine in all) to bump their way into the field. With the way the re-qualifying lines sized up, Davison was not in a position to better his time without withdrawing his car and losing his recorded speed.

“I believe that I could’ve gone quicker,” Davison continued. “We couldn’t withdraw our time until we had actually been bumped from the field. That time never came, but I was surprised when it came to 5:40pm and us being on the bubble. We were at a point of no return, and it was in other people’s hands. We could’ve taken it into our own hands, but it would’ve been a huge risk.

“Sometimes, the racing gods just have to be on your side. At the end of the day, we’re in the race,” Davison said.

Helio Castroneves made a dramatic return to the Speedway by setting fast time in qualifying today with his average speed of 228.919mph. He outpaced his three Team Penske teammates despite making his first IndyCar start this year just last week in the INDYCAR Grand Prix.

One of the Series most popular drivers and a former Indy 500 pole winner James Hinchcliffe failed to qualify for this year’s event. The shocking turn of events happened in the final hour when Hinch was bumped from the field and then went out to bump his way back in. A vibration during his run caused him to abort his run and he simply ran out of time to requalify.

Tomorrow the 33 drivers will qualify again—this time for their actual starting position in the race. There will be separate practice sessions for Group 1 (cars in positions 10-33 today) and the Fast 9, starting at noon. Those outside of the Fast 9 will have one qualifying run to determine their starting position. That session begins at 2:45 p.m. and runs till 4:45 p.m. The Fast 9, which also get just one turn, will qualify from 5:00 until 5:45 p.m. ABC-TV will broadcast qualifying from 4-6 p.m. ET.

And so the stress continues.

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