Notes & Quotes: INDYCAR Classic March 19, 2019 Team President LARRY FOYT opines on spending summers on Lake Travis, the challenges facing his team this season and racing at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). We asked him a few questions… Q: The first race at COTA—what are you looking forward to? LF: “It’s going to…
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March 10, 2019 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—“Tough day.” So summed up Tony Kanaan as he sat on the pit wall after finishing 15th in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the season opener for the NTT IndyCar Series. For teammate Matheus Leist and his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet, it was a case of wrong…
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—There’s only one way to go for A.J. Foyt’s ABC Supply Racing team tomorrow – forward.
Unusual circumstances in the qualifying session today resulted in the team cars starting side by side in the 11th row of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Kanaan never posted an official lap time due to ill timing and two red flags that stopped track action in the critical last six minutes of the 10-minute session. First Marco Andretti brought out a red flag when he spun and came to rest in pit lane. The track went green and Kanaan was set to lay down a lap only to have another red flag wave–this time for Santino Ferrucci’s slide into the tire barrier which effectively shut down the track for the balance of the session.
Of the four cars that did not post an official lap time in the first group of 12 qualifiers, relative practice speeds were used, so Kanaan will start 21st.
“I can’t call this qualifying, we got two red flags so nobody ever put a fast lap in our group,” a disappointed Kanaan said. “The fastest lap was an out lap at a 1:03 and we were running .59s. It’s a shame but it was out of our control. We didn’t cause the red flags, but we just didn’t get a lap in.”
Matheus Leist, who did get a lap in during his group session, pitted for a second set of new tires, hoping to take advantage of the track which was getting faster with each passing minute as cars laid down more rubber. Leist had to lift as he was getting up to speed on his final set of red tires because Scott Dixon spun and then rejoined the field directly in front of Leist. Because Leist was not on his flying lap, Dixon was not penalized for impeding another driver.
Leist was philosophical about the situation preferring to focus on the race tomorrow where he will start alongside his teammate in the 22nd slot.
“It’s not the result we wanted in qualifying, we will be starting from the back tomorrow so we have a lot of work to do. Even so I’m looking forward to the race because it is a place that I like and I usually drive pretty good. So we’ll try to move to the front and have a good result tomorrow.”
Will Power won his eighth pole in 10 attempts here with a lap time of 1 minute, 0.4594 of a second (107.179 mph). Teammate Joseph Newgarden was second followed by rookie Felix Rosenqvist, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi.
The 110-lap race around the 1.8 mile, 14-turn street course will be broadcast live tomorrow on NBC Sports Network starting at 12:30pm ET.
[TSO NOTE: The following press release from Foyt Racing is the winner of the preview contest so far – and sorry to all my PR rep friends who didn’t know there was a contest – I just made that up when I saw this! Anne wins this contest simply on the fact she has a…
WALLER, Texas-Motorsports executive Scott Harner has joined AJ Foyt Racing as vice-president of operations. He will be based in the team’s Speedway, Indiana race shop.
“I’m thrilled to have Scott joining AJ Foyt Racing,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “He brings a great deal of experience and skills that will complement the team we have in place. Having a managerial presence in the Indianapolis shop was much needed, and when Scott became available we knew he was the right person for the job.”
Harner, whose career in motorsports began in 1985 as a mechanic, said, “I want to thank A.J. and Larry for the opportunity to join AJ Foyt Racing. I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
In addition to managing the day-to-day operation of the Indy-based team, Harner will work closely with Team Director George Klotz, who oversees the Texas-based operation. Harner will serve as race strategist for Tony Kanaan and Klotz will become the race strategist for Matheus Leist, who is in his second year driving the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet.
Harner comes to Foyt’s team from Chip Ganassi Racing where he worked for over 25 years in a variety of roles, including a mechanic, transporter driver, fabricator, and spotter. Since 2000, he worked as a team manager and for the last 15 years was a co-team manager of the IndyCar team alongside Barry Wanser. Prior to that stint, Harner spent five years as a mechanic and fabricator on Menard’s team.
In other team personnel news, Danielle Cucchiaroni is the race engineer for Leist, a role the Italian native has held in the past on the team. Mark Sampson, who joined the team last year, has become the crew chief for Kanaan’s crew. Technical Director Eric Cowdin remains as Kanaan’s race engineer.
The team will be testing at Sebring International Raceway this Monday, the second of four pre-season tests on its schedule. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg opens the season on the weekend of March 8-10.
Source: A.J. Foyt Racing PR
HOUSTON (Feb. 6) — Houston rolled out the blue carpet for the Houston Sports Awards Dinner Wednesday evening as the city celebrated its athletes, both homegrown and imported. Motorsports icon A.J. Foyt was among the stars honored for their achievements in sport, along with golf’s Jackie Burke, Olympic Gold Medalist and Heavyweight Champion George Foreman, and…
WALLER, Texas — Barn finds. Usually they are old cars, motorcycles or airplanes, covered in dust echoing an era long gone. Auto racing fan David (Rusty) Schilder presented A.J. Foyt a barn find a bit more unusual—a unique painting by renowned Texas artist Charles (Bob) Wygant.
The painting depicts Foyt leading the pack into Turn 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He is being hotly pursued by Eddie Sachs (12), fellow Texan Lloyd Ruby (5). The barn find was originally a gift to Schilder’s father, commercial artist Laurence (Hank) Schilder. Wygant worked with Schilder in a Houston art studio for many years. Wygant is famed for his Western landscapes. Wygant and the elder Schilder passed away (2008 and 2015 respectively) before the painting was discovered so the details of the artwork aren’t documented.
Rusty Schilder remembers the story as Wygant doing it for fun since his commissioned paintings were focused on Western art. He presented the painting to Schilder’s father as a gift but the 4 foot by 8 foot painting was too large for Schilder’s office or home.
Rusty recalls, “I was cleaning out my dad’s barn recently when I came across the painting sandwiched between a mattress and Tyvek foam wallboard. I recognized the lead car as belonging to Mr. Foyt and I knew he was still living so I thought he might like to have it.
“I contacted the race team through their website and Becky (Baranouski, team coordinator) arranged for me to present the painting to Mr. Foyt and his son Larry at their race shop outside of Houston.”
The painting appears to be from the 1961 Indianapolis 500, the race that launched one of the most iconic careers in motorsports and secured Foyt’s place in history.
“I thought it was real special for Rusty to give me the painting considering it belonged to his father,” the first four-time winner of the Indy 500 said. “I remember that race very well and it’s great to have such a unique reminder of a terrific day.”
Foyt has not decided where the painting will be permanently displayed but for now it resides in the team’s headquarters in Waller.
SONOMA, Calif.—The Verizon IndyCar Series wrapped up its final race of the season with its final appearance at Sonoma Raceway with the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma. Scott Dixon finished second in the race to Ryan Hunter-Reay but Dixon won the championship title, the fifth of his career.
Tony Kanaan made his record 300th consecutive IndyCar start and drove with passion and precision in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet making the most of his start from 18th—where he gained five positions on the first lap—and the restarts by passing cars in improbable places. But in a season marked by pitfalls, his top-10 finish turned into a 12th place finish in the final stint due to a miscue on the final pit stop.
“I’m happy with my performance,” the 43-year-old veteran said quietly. “We tried a couple different things this weekend and finally I think we found a direction to work on over the winter to make the cars better. It was a great start [to the race], I had a lot of fun.”
“It was a fun weekend celebrating my 300th consecutive start,” he continued. “I was really amazed by how many people came by to congratulate me–even a lot of the drivers I raced against. Coming into the weekend, to be honest, I didn’t really think much about it, I didn’t think it was that much of a big deal but as the weekend progressed I was realizing more and more what it is. It’s one of those things I don’t think I’m going to really realize it until 10 years down the road and you look back with all the names that I mixed with and people that won’t maybe beat that record and it will probably be even more enjoyable.”
“You know it was difficult year for us at AJ Foyt Racing but we’re coming back,” he concluded. “We have the whole winter to think about what we did right and what we did wrong, fix it and come back stronger.”
Matheus “Matt” Leist started 23rd in his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet but he was never comfortable with the car throughout the race. He finished 19th.
“I think this race basically sums up our season,” the 20-year-old said afterwards. “It was a pretty tough season for everyone, not just the 4 car but for the 14 car too. Everyone worked very hard and we tried very hard but sometimes we just couldn’t put everything together, we just didn’t have the pace. It’s a shame because all the engineers, the mechanics and the drivers deserve better results. As we’re going to stay together as a team for 2019, we have to concentrate and try to do a better job, try to do a better off-season and figure out what is going to be better for us next year.”
“It was a tough race for me,” he continued. “Unfortunately I had a drive-through penalty due to the contact [with Carlos Munoz] on the restart. I think the penalty was not fair – if the leaders go and then they back off, everyone knows what happens when you are running in the back [accordion effect] but I just couldn’t do anything to avoid the crash and I hit Carlos and he spun unfortunately. But we just didn’t have the pace again and we struggled a lot with the old tires.”
“We’ll keep working hard and better days will come for sure. Big thanks to my team, my sponsors, ABC Supply, Alfe, Sherwin Williams and also INDYCAR for the great season and I’m looking for a good season in 2019.”
The team had its best performances on the ovals where Kanaan led the Indianapolis 500 for 19 laps before getting a tire puncture and then climbing back to ninth before crashing with less than 10 laps to go. Leist posted one of his best finishes of the season—13th–in the 500. The street courses also showed strength in performance as Leist qualified third in his first IndyCar race in St. Petersburg and Kanaan posted his best finish of the season—seventh– at Detroit.
“It was a long year,” said Team President Larry Foyt, who shouldered the final half of the season without his father A.J. Foyt trackside. Foyt, 83, contracted a staph infection from a back surgery in July and spent the rest of the season recovering in Houston. He expects to be back in action for the 2019 season.
Assessing this season, Larry put it into perspective saying, “We put a lot of focus on the Indy 500 this year and it showed, we ran well there so that was definitely a high. We had a real chance to win the Indy 500 and that was good. We know we have some weaknesses that we have to work on in the off season, our road course package has been an Achilles heel this year and it’s made this last quarter of the season really frustrating because there were a lot of those types of tracks.
“I think we have a good idea of what our weak areas are and what we need to do to fix them. I’m really happy we will be carrying on with Tony and Matheus and that a lot of our key people are in place and we’ll just work on strengthening some of the weaknesses and looking for a couple more key people to add to the team and strengthen the whole program.”
The ABC Supply team will take this week off but when they return, they will be starting on the winter project list as they focus on turning it around for 2019.
SONOMA, Calif.—Under sunny skies and with temperatures in the low 70s, Tony Kanaan qualified the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet for a record-setting 300th consecutive IndyCar race in what will be the final appearance for the Verizon IndyCar Series at the beautiful Sonoma Raceway.
Kanaan will start 18th after posting a time of one minute, 18.5966 seconds (109.241mph). Kanaan drove the car on the edge and despite starting in the second half of the 25-car field, he took personal pride in his qualifying run.
Kanaan with Crew Chief Dave Higuera (L) and Technical Director Eric Cowdin (R).
“It was the lap of my life,” Kanaan revealed. “It’s a shame you do such a good lap with what you’ve got and you start where we are. I’m not saying I’m happy where we’re starting but I’m happy that we found something that we can work on for tomorrow and during the off season to make this car better. But I’m also happy that I really put a good lap together, that is satisfying for me [personally]. It’s nice when I can make the difference. That’s why we’re a team, if the car’s not there, I can make the car go there. It was my best lap of the weekend and one of my best qualifying [laps] ever. Not of the result but putting a perfect lap together. That’s a shame because sometimes it doesn’t mean that the perfect lap that you put together will be the fastest lap on the race track but it’s the fastest lap of your limits and what you had in your hands. We’ll keep fighting. I don’t give up, that’s not in my vocabulary. I’m not giving up.”
Matheus “Matt” Leist was not quite as happy with his car and admitted the past two days have been tough on the team as they struggled to find the right balance in the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet.
“It was a tough qualifying for the ABC Supply car 4,” Leist said after posting a time of one minute, 18.9665 seconds (108.730mph). “We just missed the pace today, the whole weekend to be honest. We were trying a different setup for qualifying but it didn’t work very well for us. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We’re going to debrief with the team, see what Tony tested, see what he likes, what he doesn’t and focus on tomorrow’s race. We might have a shot to have a great race tomorrow. It’s the last one of the year so we’ll try to finish on a high note.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Verizon P1 Award with his pole-winning run of 1 minute, 17.6277 seconds (110.605mph). Rounding out the Firestone Fast 6 were Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi.
Kanaan spoke to the media yesterday about reaching his personal ‘Ironman’ milestone of 300 straight starts in a sport where injury is a possibility every day of every race weekend. His streak began over 17 years ago at Portland, Ore. on June 24, 2001.
“Oh, as a driver, you don’t think about stats and that kind of stuff,” Kanaan shared. “I don’t have this habit of looking at stuff. But obviously, I’ve been around for a long time. I feel very fortunate that I’m still able to do what I love and be around. I love IndyCar. I was made — my name was made in IndyCar, and it feels great to be — it’s funny to watch Colton Herta and Pato walking out [of the media center], but I was Colton’s first sponsor in his go-kart when Bryan [Herta] was my teammate. So I don’t know if I feel humbled or I feel old that I can tell Bryan today that I raced with him and his son. But it’s an awesome feeling. Obviously I still enjoy it.”
And as one who never gives up, he maintains an optimism about his chances in the race tomorrow.
“You know, we’re having a challenging year,” the 43-year-old said. “We knew that was going to be difficult for us. Right now I think this race is wide open with the nature of the track, the weather, the wind changing between morning and the afternoon. I think it’s going to be an interesting race. I mean, tire deg [degradation] has been a big issue. Everybody is complaining about grip. Not the tire’s fault, but I think it’s a combination of our downforce, the tires and the type of track. I think it’s wide open for anybody. Last year we saw Pagenaud winning with the strategy of four stops instead of three. Some people are going to try to save fuel. I mean, it’s wide open. And it’s a double-points race, so there are four guys going for the championship, but all the other 20 are going for a win, so it will be interesting.”
September 12, 2018
TONY KANAAN will make his 300th consecutive IndyCar start this weekend in Sonoma. It will also mark his 360th IndyCar race (total) since he started competing in 1998 at the age of 23 and went on to win the Rookie of the Year title. His victory at Sonoma in 2005 was his first and only–so far–victory on a permanent road course as the six previous wins came on ovals. Kanaan’s wife Lauren gave birth to their first daughter on Friday, Aug. 31 while he was in Portland. He flew home the night of the race to meet Nina who weighed in at 7 lbs. 11 oz and was 20.5 in long. We asked him a few questions…
Q: 300 consecutive starts is quite significant. Did keeping this streak going enter your mind when you might have been hurt or not feeling great?
TK: “I’d say I never thought of breaking a record or anything like that. I just took one race at a time, and when I noticed I was breaking [Jimmy] Vasser’s record in 2011, it actually took me by surprise the 212 races. It’s something you don’t think about. Now, all of a sudden, it’s already 300!”
Q: Was there ever a race where you had to drive through the pain? What were the circumstances?
TK: “In 2003 when I crashed at [Twin Ring] Motegi, Japan, I broke my wrist and the
suspension went inside my leg. That was right before the 500. I raced with a carbon fiber cast at the 500 and I finished third. [Dr.] Trammel operated on me the Tuesday after Japan and I had two weeks before opening day. I missed opening day and the first two days. Then I raced with this special cast. I couldn’t twist my arm because I had a bunch of pins. It was not the most comfortable thing to do, but I kept going.”
Q: Did you ever “hide” an injury to stay in the cockpit?
TK: “No, not really. By doing that you’re putting yourself and others at risk and I’m not like that. Maybe as a kid you might think it’s worth hiding an injury, but at this level it’s not something you can even consider.”
Q: What is the closest you came to quitting IndyCars? What brought you back?
TK: “At the end of 2010 when I was released by my contract with Andretti it crossed my
mind. By that time I had many victories, a championship and an established career. It was the end of the season, all good seats were taken at the other teams and I was left with no option. But I took it the same way I took the beginning of my career when my dad passed… No option was not an option. I had to reinvent myself and go after sponsorship and a team, something that I didn’t have to do since I got to Indy Lights in 1996. It was extremely challenging time and what kept me going was that I didn’t think I was done. Two years after that I won the 500, so I guess it was a good thing I kept going.”
Q: What is the next milestone number you have in mind? Or do you even think about them?
TK: “No, I don’t think about it.”
Q: In 13 starts at Sonoma, you qualified in the top-10 seven times and finished in the top-10 seven times, including winning your first time there in 2005. What do you like about the track?
TK: “It’s a fast, physical and challenging track. It’s a place that’s fun to drive, like a roller coaster.”
Q: It’s been a tough year helping to rebuild the No. 14 team, what would a top-5 finish at Sonoma mean to you?
TK: “We all knew coming in that 2018 would be a building season for the AJ Foyt ABC Supply Team. Like I said, Sonoma is a challenging place so getting a good result would be a huge morale booster for the team, a very good way to end the season and better than that, a good way to start our off-season focusing on 2019. I can’t believe that this is the last race of the year already.”
On the birth of his daughter Nina (quote given Sept. 1 in Portland, Ore.): “I know people
say, it’s your fourth. But it doesn’t matter how many there are, it’s still very sweet. I feel very lucky that we have healthy kids—all born very healthy with no problems. When you have a bad day on the race track you have to put life in perspective and believe there are much bigger issues than just having a bad race car and not starting well. Days like yesterday and then being up all night with Lauren on the phone and hearing the baby cry and it was a girl, which deep inside, when you have three boys, you kind of hope for a girl, it’s awesome.”
On racing at Sonoma: “Sonoma is such a cool place to drive. It’s fast, technical and full of elevation changes. When you put all that together it makes for a pretty challenging track. I’ve enjoyed racing in Sonoma since INDYCAR started there in 2005, you know it always has a great crowd, great fans and an awesome atmosphere overall. It’s a track that will surely be missed by the paddock.”
MATHEUS LEIST ON:
Racing at Sonoma: “Headed to Sonoma this weekend and just realized that the season flew by. I remember St. Petersburg and Indy as if it was yesterday, and now my first IndyCar series season is almost over. Has been a great year! Sonoma is a place that I’ve never raced before, but grew up playing video games there and thinking about racing in that place one day. It’s such a pretty city and a fun track to drive, it has lots of elevation changes which make things pretty interesting. After a great pace in Portland, the ABC Supply car No.4 is gonna give its all to finish the season on a high. I definitely can’t wait for it.”
On His Teammate Tony Kanaan and his 300th IndyCar Start: “Tony and I had a great time together this year. I grew up seeing him race, and today we’re teammates. The guy has achieved everything he always wanted in his career and he loves what he does. I’m on my way to my 17th IndyCar start and he’s on his way to his 300th straight start, over 20 years racing in the same series, that’s crazy. I’m just so grateful to have him around helping me all the time, he deserves the best. And you know what, the old man is still fast, he can keep going for a long, long time yet.”
Last Race: At Portland, Kanaan started 24th and finished 11th. Leist started 19th and finished 14th in his first race there.
Past Performance at Sonoma Raceway: In 13 races here, Tony Kanaan’s best start and finish came in his first year at the track 2005: he won after starting third. He has seven starts in the top-10 and seven finishes in the top-10 including his victory there. Matheus Leist is making his first start here in IndyCar, he did not compete here in Indy Lights. In 16 starts (counting double entries 2015-2017) here, the Foyt team’s best start is 13th with Takuma Sato (2013) and Conor Daly (2017). The team’s best finish is fourth with Sato in 2014 who also posted the team’s second best finish of eighth 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 nearly 600 guests.
ABC Supply national account Petersen Dean, based in Fremont, Calif., will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Tony Kanaan.
L&W account, North Counties Drywall Inc., based in Sonoma, Calif., won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest. The company name will be on the engine cover of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment plus a Meet and Greet with Matheus “Matt” Leist.
The INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma will be televised live on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, Sept. 16, starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. The first practice on Friday will be live-streamed on racecontrol.IndyCar.com and youtube.com/IndyCar at 2:00 p.m. ET. NBCSN will re-air it at 4 p.m. ET.