Can Kirkwood Raise the Bar at Foyt?

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Kyle Kirkwood is used to making teams more competitive. He sees the same potential at A. J. Foyt Racing. His ride for next year, the 14 car, had two top 10s and two top fives in 2021 and finished 16th in the final standings. One top 10 and one top five came in the first two races of the year. Kirkwood believes he can improve he team’s results.

“I’ve worked in positions before where I’ve started with a
lower level team, if I look back at Indy Pro 2000, and I was
racing for RP Motorsports, I think they finished fifth or sixth
in the championship, they missed a couple races, but I saw
what the team wanted to do, and I believed in them, and
we ended up winning nine of the 16 races with the
championship,” Kirkwood said yesterday in a press availability.

He gets more satisfaction out of moving up during a race than he does out of winning from the pole.

“I get more satisfaction
from progressing than I do just from winning. We go out
front, and like quite honestly, if I have a race where — like
for instance, Laguna this past year. I started from the pole
and just led the entire race, but there’s no progression
throughout the weekend because we just had a car that
was good and we just kept — which those ones aren’t the
ones that are super enjoyable for me. The ones like
Portland where we’re qualifying fourth or fifth and being
able to go right to the front again based off of what I’m able
to do and what we’re able to do with the car and progress
through the weekend I think pays way more satisfaction to
me than anything else.


If we can take a car that, hey, maybe we don’t qualify that
well but we put together a really good race car and we’re
able to make up a bunch of positions, that’s way more
satisfactory to me than just being out front and sailing off
into the distance. Yeah, so at the end of the day I think
progression creates a lot more satisfaction for me,” Kirkwood explained.

Kirkwood’s path to Indycar began when A. J. Allmendinger selected him out of a karting program. He has progressed wirth the help of scholarships earned by winnuing at every level. Kirkwood doesn’t think he would be where is today without the start from Allmendinger.

“Pretty much my entire
career has been based off of scholarships and people
bringing me along, so I’m very thankful. Really that starts
all the way back from AJ Allmendinger back in 2012 where
he sponsored me in a karting scholarship. From there I
had a Skip Barber scholarship, a Team USA scholarship,
and then F4 I had the scholarship to F3, and then from
USF2000 I had the scholarship Indy Pro, scholarship into
Indy Lights. Without any of that, I definitely wouldn’t be in
this position right now because as everyone knows, it costs
a lot of money to do racing, and in those lower levels you
can’t really bring sponsorship along because there’s not
much return on investment for sponsors. Without the
scholarships I would not be at this point,” he said.

“At the time I was racing —
what was I, 13 years old racing Minimax, I believe, and we
did a national race together.
He (Allmendinger) had the scholarship program come out, and I had a
fantastic season and he decided to pick me. That’s how
the relationship came about, and yeah, I don’t think — I
probably wouldn’t have been able to compete in a lot of the
races that I raced in in 2012 and 2013, I believe, if it wasn’t
for him.”

While some fans may be disappointed that A. J. Foyt Racing is where he will start his Indycar career, Kirkwood is happy to be with the team.

“Oh, man, I’m absolutely over the
moon right now to be driving for AJ Foyt Racing in the No.
14, filling in some really big shoes with Bourdais leaving
like Larry mentioned and doing some sports car stuff. I’m
at a loss for words because I’m ecstatic.”

Kirkwood has one year deal with Foyt. Is next season just a stepping stone as he waits for a seat at Andretti to open? Several drivers have tried to make the 14 car competitive and have fallen short. I think Kirkwood gives them the best chance move up in the standings, but it depends on the team Larry Foyt assembles behind him.


Kirkwood Signs with Foyt

Photo from A J Foyt Racing Twitter

2021 Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood signed with A. J. Foyt Racing for the 2022 Indycar season. I will have some thoughts on this tomorrow.

The team’s announcement:

WALLER, Texas (Nov. 10, 2021) — There is a buzz around the No. 14 Chevrolet fielded by A.J. Foyt — and it is not killer bees. AJ Foyt Racing has hired 2021 Indy Lights Champion Kyle Kirkwood to drive the No. 14 Chevrolet in the NTT INDYCAR Series next year.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kyle to the team,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “Obviously, he has been very successful on his climb through the Road to Indy Championships and his record speaks for itself. This deal came together rather quickly, but I’ve already been impressed with how Kyle thinks about racing and the maturity he seems to have for such a young driver. The NTT INDYCAR Series is as competitive as ever, and the challenges are great, but we feel Kyle will be a great asset as we take on those challenges and work to grow as a team.”

Kirkwood, 23, is the only driver to win championships in all three divisions of the Road to Indy (RTI) presented by Cooper Tires ladder system, and he did it in consecutive seasons: USF2000 in 2018, Indy Pro 2000 in 2019 and Indy Lights this year (the 2020 Indy Lights season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Kirkwood poses with his Indy Lights championship trophy at the Road to Indy Awards Dinner.

“I actually met Larry [Foyt] for the first time in 2018 at Road America when I was driving in USF2000 with Cape Motorsports,” revealed Kirkwood, who lives in Jupiter, Florida. “He was the first person in the INDYCAR paddock to show me around the car and explain the dynamics of what it takes to be an Indy car team and driver. From that moment, I felt very comfortable with the atmosphere of the team and now it has come to fruition that I will be driving the No. 14. It’s hard to explain in words the excitement I have to drive for such an experienced and legendary team. I know I will be filling some very big shoes, but I think it’s the perfect timing and group to be able to do so.

“Considering I have 19 years of experience driving, and it’s all led to this moment to becoming a full time Indy car driver — It’s truly a dream come true,” the Floridian continued. “It’s incredible seeing the completely unexpected path I took in previous years blossom into something I’ve always hoped for as a kid in karting.”

Kirkwood notched his 10th victory in the Indy Lights Series in the season finale doubleheader at Mid-Ohio. He won the first of two races.

This season’s Indy Lights championship battle came down to the final race weekend in October at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Driving for Andretti Autosport, Kirkwood clinched the title over runner-up David Malukas after winning the first race of the doubleheader and finishing fifth in the season finale. Kirkwood won 10 races (tying Greg Moore’s series record set in 1995) and seven poles in 20 races.

Kirkwood received his first kart at age four and began racing them a year later. He won numerous races and titles before moving into cars in 2016 when he competed in the inaugural F4 series. That same year he won a Team USA scholarship and competed at the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone. In 2017, Kirkwood dominated the F4 U.S. Championship with nine victories and six poles in 20 races.

The following year, he won the Cooper Tires USF2000 title with 12 wins in 14 races driving for Cape Motorsports. He won 15 of 17 races to claim the F3 Americas Championship powered by Honda. Driving for RP Motorsports in 2019, he won the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with nine victories and five poles in 16 races. His move to the Indy Lights division was delayed when the pandemic halted racing in the Road to Indy ladder series in 2020.

Kirkwood poses with his team after winning the Indy Pro 2000 title in 2019.

Kirkwood has tested an Indy car three times, most recently at the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

“What I’ve learned in my three Indy car tests is that the Indy Lights car and the Indy car are not massively different,” Kirkwood explained. “As we’ve seen with many drivers, it’s quite an easy transition. The best thing that you can take away from the RTI is the track experience. With minimal time during weekends, it’s crucial to maximize practice, having the track experience eliminates a period of time spent learning so you can solely focus on the car and driving.

“The biggest difference I’ve noticed in my tests is the tire. The Firestone tire creates a lot more grip. There are other differences, like steering weight, downforce and braking capabilities, but all of those are just a nice step forward from the Indy Lights car.”

When asked what he thinks his biggest challenge will be as a rookie driver entering the very competitive NTT INDYCAR Series, he responded, “I’m sure I will know more as I enter the season, but I know I will be against some drivers that have years and years of experience in the car and with the tracks. I know my lack of experience will hurt in some aspects, but hopefully my driving will be able to make up for most of it.”

Spoken with the confidence of a champion.Post not marked as liked

Kimball in Third Foyt Car at Long Beach

Indycar photo

The third Foyt entry for Long Beach ensures at least 27 cars for the season finale. The announcement from Indycar:

Charlie Kimball will return to the cockpit of the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing on Sept. 24-26 at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the season finale of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.“I cannot wait to get back behind the wheel of an AJ Foyt Indy car mostly because I love racing,” Kimball said. “I am also excited to race on behalf of my longtime sponsor Novo Nordisk one more time this season at one of my favorite races. Working with the team at AJ Foyt Racing, both in and out of the cockpit, has been very rewarding, and I look forward to continuing that work in Long Beach.”Kimball last competed for AJ Foyt Racing in the GMR Grand Prix on May 15 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, finishing 22nd. An attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 was unsuccessful. In 2020, Kimball drove full time for the team, scoring a season-best finish of eighth in October at St. Petersburg, Florida.“We are very happy to have Charlie and Novo Nordisk back for the season finale,” said Larry Foyt, team president. “Long Beach is such a great race for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, and I’m glad we could put this event together for Charlie and Novo Nordisk because they have been great partners of our team. They have touched many lives and inspired many race fans through the motorsports platform, and I’m honored that our team was able to be a small part of that.”Kimball will join full-time drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Dalton Kellett in the Foyt lineup at Long Beach.Being able to wrap up the season in Long Beach holds special significance for Kimball, who grew up 75 miles from the Southern California city in Camarillo, California. He last raced on the picturesque street circuit in 2018 for Carlin Racing, finishing 10th.“Long Beach is my favorite event outside of the Indy 500,” Kimball said. “I spent my childhood coming to this race and dreaming about being on the other side of the fence. The chance to compete at this track, so close to my hometown, three and a half years since my last time behind the wheel there has been one of my biggest personal motivators.”Kimball has stayed busy this season as the color commentator for the Indy Lights telecasts.Live coverage of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach starts at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Sept. 26 on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Hildebrand to Drive Foyt 60th Anniversary Tribute Car

All photos from A.J. Foyt Racing

J. R. Hildebrand will attempt to qualify for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 in a fourth entry for A. J. Foyt Racing. 2021 is the first time in 20 years that Foyt will have four entries for the race.

ABC Supply returns as primary sponsor. The company was the full time sponsor for Foyt through the 2019 season. The car will carry the number 1 and have a tribute livery resembling the paint scheme on Foyt’s 1961 Indianapolis 500 winning car. The number 1, normally reserved for the NTT Indycar series champion, was loaned to the Foyt team by Chip Ganassi Racing. Ganassi has been reluctant to use the number 1 on his cars the year after one of his drivers has won the championship,

“Chip was very gracious about letting us use the number 1,” Larry Foyt said.

A. J. Foyt in 1961, the first of his four 500 victories.
Hildebrand’s car with similar livery.

Hildebrand will be looking to make his 11th consecutive 500. In 2011, he was leading heading into the fourth turn of lap 200 when he went wide hit the wall, Dan Wheldon passed him to win. Hildebrand slid down the track past the finish line and finished second. he had thre3e straight top 10 finishes-10th in 2014, 8th in 2015 and 6th in 2016. Hildebrand has completed all 200 laps eight times.

A. J. Foyt said he was happy to have ABC Supply returning fpor the 500. “They’re more like family than sponsorship,” he said.

I really like the look of this car. It definitely looks like the 1961 roadster. Now if they can just find a way to get a Bowes Seal Fast sticker on it somewhere.

ROKiT Sponsorship Gives Boost to Foyt and Bourdais

Images from A, J. Foyt Racing

A friendship that began seven years ago resulted in a major sponsorship for A. J. Foyt Racing. Larry Foyt met Joinathan Kendrick and they stayed in touch. Kendrick, a co-founder of ROKit, a new business incubator, has always been a race fan. He worked for Goodyear Tire’s racing Division as a teenager, and became aware of A. J. Foyt.

Foyt lost long time sponsor ABC Supply after the 2019 season and in 202 struggled to find sponsorship. This new deal brings stability to the team as they look to put together a better year in 2021. All the elements are in place for improvement.

The news release:

WALLER, Texas (March 23, 2021)–AJ Foyt Racing and Sebastien Bourdais will be rockin’ with ROKiT this year!

The global conglomerate ROKiT signed as the primary marketing partner of the No. 14 Chevrolet to be driven by Bourdais in the NTT INDYCAR Series this season. The striking livery design embodies ROKiT’s disruptive approach to challenging conventional business. In addition to branding on the car, the agreement allows for a variety of activation opportunities.  

#14 Sebastien Bourdais, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

Entrepreneur Jonathan Kendrick, ROKiT’s co-founder along with partner John-Paul DeJoria, is utilizing the Foyt team’s iconic heritage to raise brand awareness globally and showcase the company’s broad range of services and products.

Commenting, Jonathan Kendrick said “When I was 17 years old and working for Goodyear Tires racing division, I was aware of AJ Foyt and what an incredibly talented driver he was, so I am hugely excited to have partnered with the legendary AJ Foyt Racing team for the 2021 INDYCAR Series. I’m looking forward to cheering-on the fabulous looking No.14 Chevrolet as it roars around the circuits this year. All our ROKiT companies will be actively involved in this partnership and we wish Larry, Sebastien and all the team at Foyt Racing the very best of luck.”

ROKiT is a new business incubator with a diverse portfolio of companies involved in innovative technology and services including mobile phones, WiFi deployment, beverages, pioneering 3D content production and distribution of movies and music.

The partnership is the evolution of a discussion which began seven years ago when the two companies started exploring opportunities to work together.

Larry Foyt anticipates the new partnership will give his team and the INDYCAR series additional exposure to a younger audience as the team mounts a competitive campaign to vie for victories with 4-time INDYCAR champion Bourdais.

“I met JK several years ago and we have stayed in touch,” said Larry Foyt, team president of AJ Foyt Racing. “He is a true racing enthusiast and it has been great to see him use many forms of motorsport in his growth strategy for ROKiT. We had expressed interest in working together when the time was right, and I must say it feels like everything came into alignment perfectly for this opportunity. I think this partnership will reward ROKiT’s partners and consumers with some exciting programs that take advantage of the great access our team can provide. I’m enthused about our promising testing results, and this is another shot of awesome momentum heading into the season.”

The NTT INDYCAR series opens its 17-race season April 18 at Barber Motorsports Park.

ROKiT on!

Image Courtesy Of A.J. Foyt Racing

Kimball Joins Foyt for May in Indy

Photo of Charlie Kimball by Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Charlie Kimball will return to A. J. Foyt Racing for two races in 2021, entering the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 15 and the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 May 30. Kimball brings his Tresiba sponsorship to car number 11 this season.

In a full time ride with Foyt in 2020, Kimball had best finish of eighth in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg finale. He ended 2020 18th in the final standings. The COVID-disrupted scheduled cost Kimball and the team valuable input from Sebastien Bourdais, who was cheduled to begin the year with Foyt and help get the cars set up. Bourdais is with the team full time for the new season.

Kimball will be attempting to qualify for his 11th 500 mile race. In 2020 he finished 18th after starting 29th. He finished third in 2015 and fifth in 2016 and has two other top 10 results in the 500.

Today’s announcement brings the confirmed entry list for the Indianapolis 500 to 28. Dale Coyne with Rick Ware Racing should announce their two drivers fo May, which raises the total to 30. Getting to 33 should not be an issue. I’ll discuss the field and possible entries more next week.

In a teleconference this afternoon, Larry Foyt said he was happy to get to work with Kimball again.

“Charlie was awesome to work with last year. We know Charlie and we trust Charlie.”

KImball hopes to build on how last season ended with Foyt.

“The results at St. Pete showed the progress we made as a team. We hope to be able to build on results of that last race.”

Kimball added, “I’m very comfortable heading back to Foyt. I feel I have unfinished business. We have built a solid foundation”

Kimball regrets that series races at long Beach and Toronto were cancelled last season.

Foyt said there are no plans to run a full time third car in 2021.

“We’d love to have Charlie full time, but going to 3 full time cars would have to be a really good situation. We are just focused on results this year.”

In the past few years, Foyt said the team has had ” too many changes, no consistency in drivers or engineers. I feel like its all headed in the right direction now. The Indycar field is really strong. Getting top 5s and top 10s is the goal.”

 

 

 

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

 


/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}


 

 

 

 

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

 


/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}


Indycar field is really strong. getting top 5s and top 10s is the goal.

.

Kellett and Foyt Hope Full Time Ride Leads to Success

Dalton Kellett and Larry Foyt both believe that a full time ride in 2021 will allow Kellett to develop his skills at a faster pace. because of the constantly changing schedule in 202, Foyt thinks that Kellett didn’t get the seat time he needed.

“2020 was even tougher for him than we expected it to be being a rookie with limited track time and having to deal with shorter race weekends,” Foyt said in this afternoon’s press conference.

Kellett added, ” (I) Learned a lot last year,and that was with limited track time, limited testing. So being full time in the 4 car is going to be a great opportunity.”

Having Sebastien Bourdais as a teammate should help Kellet develop. He was impressed with Bourdais at the Barber test.

“…having Seb on board is going to be a great asset to the program. I’m really looking forward to working with him. We had a great test earlier in the off-season at Barber Motorsports Park in October, and seeing how he works with the engineers and how exacting he is with his feedback and what he wants out of the car was pretty eye-opening.”

As for goals for 2021, Foyt set realistic expectations.

“Top-10s are the goal here at first and solid qualifying. I think we lacked some pace on some of the permanent road courses that we’d like to add.”

The team has added some mechanics to try to shore up weaknesses in the team.

Foyt added that a third full time car is not likely.

“I would say no in 2021; barring I win the lottery or something like that. It’s something on our radar for sure. I’m a big person who thinks growth is important to any business, but it has to be done the right way.”

He did say that a third car for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 is possible.

Foyt said that he had just a brief introductory conversation with former F1 driver Romain Grosjean.

This team has a lot to prove. having Sebastien Bourdais all season should help their development. I hope Bourdais can mentor Kellett and that he can improve his driving skills. We should know pretty quickly where A. J. Foyt Racing is headed in 2021.

Foyt Signs Bourdais for Rest of Season and 2021

Sebastien Bourdais was supposed to start the season with A. J. Foyt Racing, but now he will end the season with them and drive the No. 14 full time in 2021. Bourdais will drive for Foyt beginning with the harvest Classic doubleheader October 2 and 3 at IMS and in the scheduled season finale in his hometown of St. Petersburg October 25.

Bourdais, a four time Indycar champion with 37 wins and 34 poles, hopes to make the team more competitive. He spent this season in IMSA driving a Cadillac prototype. Bourdais is currently in France preparing to drive in this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

About the signing, Bourdais said, “This is exciting news for all of us. We waited with anticipation for most of 2020 to put together a deal for 2021. I’m really happy that I’m running the last three races of the year — it is great for us to get an early start on next year. 2020 has been a very strange year so far and I can’t wait to finally get behind the wheel of the AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet No. 14.”

Larry Foyt spoke of the reason for putting Bourdais in the car for the last three races.

“We thought it made great sense to get this started now. Not sure what the testing rules are going to look like for next year, so we wanted to get Seb in the car as early as we could. Good to get this done, announce it, looking forward to the end of this year and 2021”

Dalton Kellett, who had been in the 14 on the road courses, will move to the No. 41 car for the Harvest Classic. The twin races will be Kellett’s last drives this season.

Before the season schedule was altered by the pandemic, Bourdais was scheduled to open the season for Foyt at St. Pete, where he has won twice, in the 14 car. Kellett would take over on the road and street course and Tony Kanaan would drive the ovals. Bourdais also had two more races schedule in the 14. All three of Bourdais’ races were cancelled in the schedule shuffle.

Larry Foyt said a sponsor will be announced at a later date. No driver is set for the No. 4 car for 2021. The team is talking with its current drivers for that seat.

I’m happy that Bourdais will return to Indycar. He adds even more depth to an already deep field. He had success with Dale Coyne’s team. It will be interesting to see if he can help bring the Foyt team up to a more competitive level.

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.