Bourdais, Kellett Complete Foyt Lineup for Car 14

Sebastien Bourdais at Barber last season.

Sebastien Bourdais is not done with Indycar yet. A. J. Foyt Racing announced that Bourdais will drive the number b14 entry at the St. Pete opener, Barber, Long Beach, and Portland. The four time series champion will drive a Chevrolet powered car for the first time since 2016. He will get to drive in his home race at St. Pete, where he won in 2017 and 2018.

Dalton Kellett will take the wheel at Circuit of the Americas, the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Detroit, Road America, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, and Laguna Seca. Kellet, a rookie in Indycar, drove in Indy Lights for the past four years. He will also make his Indianapolis 500 debut in the third Foyt entry for the 104th running of the race.

Last week Tony Kanaan announced he will be driving the number 14 on all the ovals in his Indycar farewell season. Charlie Kimball recently signed to drive the second Foyt full time entry, number 4 for the full season.

Thoughts

I’m glad Bourdais will have a bit of a presence in Indycar.  If his schedule permits, I hope he can drive a couple more races. I wouldn’t rule him completely out for the 500 yet.

It will be interesting to see how Kellett performs. In Lights, he was better on oval than road courses.

Filling the third car for the 500 leaves one less seat for a driver looking for a ride. Usually Foyt partners with a one off team.

The four drivers who will drive for Foyt have a variety of experience and background. Bourdais is probably the best at setting up a car. Perhaps he can get the team pointed in the right direction. His driving in the first three races is a good move for the team.

Bumped Before May; Honda Nixes Alonso Andretti Ride

Fernando Alonso watches as he is bumped from the Indianapolis 500 in 2019. Photo: Mike Silver

\Fernando Alonso will need to find needs to find a Chevy team to take him on if he wants another chance to win the Indianapolis 500. An expected announcement from Andretti Autosport putting Honda in the 29 Andretti ride never came. I thought that was because of the death of Michael’s cousin, John Andretti. But Honda headquarters in Japan vetoed the deal.

The bad blood between Alonso, and McLaren for that matter, stems from criticisms leveled at Honda in Formula 1 when they supplied engines to the McLaren which Alonso drove for. Granted, the engine performed poorly. Alonso called it a GP 2 engine during one race. The team was not happy with the engine the entire season.

Alonso now has limited options among the Chevy teams. Penske never was a possibility, Ed Carpenter racing will not run a fourth car. The best opportunities lie at Arrow McLaren SP, Coyne, or Carlin. Alonso failed to qualify last year in a Carlin supported entry. I’m not sure he wants to go that route again.

One off Chevy teams which may have availability are Juncos and Dreyer and Reinbold. Alonso needs a huge check to hook up with Juncos. I’m not sure where D&R stands with their second driver, thought to be J. R, Hildebrand.

Door Open for Hinchcliffe?

My first thought upon hearing this news is does Hinchcliffe have a shot at the now open Andretti ride? I don’t know which teams he has talked to already or how far negotiations have progressed. He wants to run races besides Indianapolis. Andretti would probably be the easiest team to accommodate that.  The team had considered running Alonso at one or two more races.

I’m sure Andretti is getting lots of calls from lots of drivers asking about the now empty seat. Some possibilities are Carlos Munoz, Stefan Wilson, and Oriol Servia. Sebastien Bourdais may be interested as well.

Implications

I really don’t see Alonso driving in the 500 this year. The Chevy possibilities themselves have limited room for another car.

Drivers and teams may now be even more leery of criticizing their engine supplier. Indycar seats and engine leases are hard enough to come by. This not a component of a team anyone wants to upset.

Honda’s veto of Alonso underscores the need for the NTT Indycar Series to secure a third OEM. If  one supplier has a say about who drives cars with their engines, the field narrows for the parties affected. Of course Honda has every right to make decisions they believe are in their interests, but  having just two engine choices is limiting.

What will it now take for a driver to get the seventh Andretti car for Indianapolis? Alonso was likely bringing significant sponsorship to the team. Will Andretti decide to forgo the extra car?  I was seeing one less car for qualifying this year as it was. I hope I’m wrong.

 

 

John Andretti- A Passion for Racing and Caring

Just a few words about John Andretti. He had success in every series in which he drove. He had one Indycar win at Surfer’s Paradise, two NASCAR Cup wins, a Rolex 24 win, and he did well driving a dragster. John was the first driver to do the Indianapolis 500 and Coca Cola 600 double in 1994. I really admired him for that at the time. He finished 10th in the 500, then John scurried to Charlotte.

In his first NASCAR win, he held off Dale Earnhardt in the 1997 Pepsi 400 at Daytona. He nearly won the Brickyard 400 in 1995. A late pit stop cast him the victory.

Beyond racing, Andretti had compassion for others. His Race4Riley program has helped many kids at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. When he was diagnosed with colon cancer, he encouraged others to get colonoscopies at age fifty. He waited too long to have one, and didn’t want others to suffer the same fate. It was inspiring following the ups and downs of his battle with cancer over the last two and a half years.

I hope at St. Pete all cars will carry a decal honoring him. I would hope they keep it on all year.

I think I will remember John’s  caring more than his racing career. In his memory gifts can be made to the following:

Window World Cares

118 Shaver Street

North Wilkesboro, NC 28659

http//www.windowworldcares.com

 

Riley Children’s Foundation

30 S. meridian St., Suite 200

Indianapolis, IN 46204

https//www.rileykids.org

 

Indycar Spring Training Tests Aeroscreen, Rookies

Weather update:  High of 48, steady rain beginning around 10 pm CDT
Today’s Schedule: (All Times Eastern)

11:00-1:00  Indycar Series Open Testing

2:30-6:30 Indycar Series Open Testing

Weather forecast from Indycar Weatherman at 8:19 Austin time Monday night:

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The rain should be intermittent, but the temperatures may prevent the cars getting on track. That call may come from Firestone. I don’t know if there is a temperature delta for the rain tires.

While the test is for the teams to prepare for the upcoming season, it will also be the first full field test for the aeroscreen.  Most drivers didn’t think it will affect the racing. Some were concerned about vision after a few laps in less than optimal conditions. Today is also a good day to test the heating/cooling system of aeroscreen.

Updated entry list:

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Seven rookies will participate today. Three of them, Oliver Askew, Dalton Kellett, and Rinus VeeKay, drove in Indy Lights last year. The Road to Indy continues to do a great job training drivers for the NTT Indycar Series.

I will have up dates throughout the day. 

It’s Been a Great Ride for Tony Kanaan; Five Oval Races Will Close Indycar Career

Photo: Tony Kanaan at Texas Motor Speedway in 2019. Courtesy Indycar, Chris Owens

It happens to every driver in time. It’s Tony Kanaan’s turn to retire. Kanaan announced today he will run the five ovals on the NTT Indycar Series schedule to end his Indycar career.  It’s always a little sad to see champion and Indianapolis 500 winner hang it up, but I like when a driver can leave on his or her own terms.

His final race will be at World Wide Technology Raceway August 22. He finished third there in 2019.

“I have no regrets,” Kanaan told a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning.  “This place (IMS) made me.”

Kanaan has driven in 18 Indianapolis 500s, winning in 2013. He won the pole in 2005 and led in each of his first seven races. He has eight top 5s and qualified in the top 6 from 2002 through 2009 with three front row starts.

Kanaan completed every lap in the 2004 Indycar series and win the series championship. He is the first driver to complete every lap in a season. He has 17 wins and 15 poles in his career.  His best years were with Andretti Green Racing in the early 2000s. He won the 500 driving for KV Racing.

He has always been a fan favorite. He plans to be “a lot more engaged with the fans” at the races he isn’t running in 2020. Look for Kanaan at the autograph sessions at the road  and street course events as well as the ovals.

When the green flag waves at St. Pete, it will end Kanaan’s streak of 317 consecutive Indycar starts.  In a sport with such brief seasons, I find that an amazing statistic.IMG_7537

Kanaan at Laguna Seca last season. The season finale becomes his road race finale in the series. Photo: Mike Silver

Kanaan insists while he may be closing his Indycar career, but he’s not done racing.

“I don’t want anybody to think I’m retiring and I’m disappearing. First of all, I still can drive. We’ve been in talks. Five years or so in this room we started it; we’ve been in talks with IMSA and a bunch of other series. Even Formula-e, you talk about stock car in Brazil. People are like, so what are you doing, what are you doing next year, and I think this will open an opportunity for me to do — Tony Stewart is like, when are you coming back to Eldora. Now I think I can do all those things. ”

Indycar is approaching a point where several of the current big names will be closing out their careers in the next couple of seasons. We have five occasions to honor a driver who has reached the pinnacle of the sport. If you get to one of the ovals this year, make it a point to seek Kanaan out, and tell him how you appreciate what he’s done.

 

 

 

 

Rolex Race Recap and Photo Gallery

A new driver lineup didn’t affect Wayne Taylor Racing as the team kept its Rolex 24 title Sunday. Both of Taylor’s sons have moved to other teams, leaving only Renger Van der Zende as the sole holdover. Taylor signed Ryan Briscoe from Chip Ganassi’s defunct Ford GT program. Scott Dixon and Kamui Kobayashi joined the squad for the 24 hour race. The Cadillac took the lead for good in the early morning hours and ran away from the field. It was the third victory in four years for WTR.

The number 10 car completed a record 833 laps in a race that had less than two hours of caution periods. At one point the green flag stayed out for more than seven hours.  The long green flag stretches took a lot of dram out of the race as trailing cars had little chance to close up to the leaders.

As usual, the best racing through the night was in the GTLM class. The two Porsches had a great battle with the BMW from Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The BMW eventually prevailed, solidifying its lead after sunrise. Drivers in the winning car were Johm Edwards, Augusto Farfus, Chaz Mostert, and Jesse Krohn. Rahal’s other car won the Rolex 24 in 2019.

In LMP2, Dragonspeed retained its Rolex title.  Drivers Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman, Colin Braun, and Harrison Newey. Dragonspeed is planning a six race Indycar program in addition to its sportscar plans. The team took the lead when the pole sitting Mathiasen Motorsports had an issue.

A Lamborghini was expected to win in GTD and the marque didn’t disappoint. Paul Miller Racing’s car went to Victory Circle. Drivers Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers,  Corey Lewis, and Andrew Caldarelli took home the watches.

Notes

Sebastien Bourdais finished third in his full time sports car debut. The Mustang Sampling team had reconfigured itself in the JDC-Mille stable after leaving Action Express.

Scott Dixon added to his legacy as one racing’s all time greats with his third Rolex24 overall win, tying him for second on the all time roster.

Perseverance award– The crew of the number 4 Corvette spent most of the night hours attempting to find an engine issue. The engine was in pieces in the early morning hours, and the car returned to the track after sunrise. The team spent six hours to complete the repair.

Keating Loves to Drive- Ben Keating drove the number 52 LMP2 car to the pole, then started the race. He also drove the Riley Motorsports Mercedes in GTD. Just doing the math to figure out how he could split his time between the cars and stay within driver time limits was impressive. Keating also drove in Friday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge race.

GEAR has Misfortune- The all female team of Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen, Tatiana Calderon, and Rachel Frey had a difficult start to the season. The car slowed on the backstretch around 11:30 pm. It limped back to the pits. Early in the morning, the car caught fire with Nielsen behind the wheel. She was not injured, but their race was over.

The IMSA Weather Tech Championship Series next races at the 12 Hours of Sebring March 21. The WEC series will also be there for a 1,000 mile race on Friday.

Photo Gallery

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