Bommarito to Sponsor Kirkwood

Kyle Kirkwood will carry the main sponsor of the Bommarito 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway next weekend in the final oval race of the Indycar season. Sexton properties has been Kirkwood’s main sponsor since Mid Ohio when Rokit was dropped from the team.

The release from A. J. Foyt Racing:

ST. LOUIS (August 10, 2022) — The Bommarito Automotive Group continues to expand its footprint in motorsports. Missouri’s #1 automotive group has signed as the primary marketing partner of AJ Foyt Racing’s No. 14 Chevrolet for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway August 19-20. Associate sponsor and friends over at Rebel Bourbon are also proud to be a part of the 6th Annual Bommarito 500 NTT INDYCAR Series race.

A.J. Foyt, the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, started his race team over 50 years ago.

He won three of his seven INDYCAR championships and claimed the final two of his Indy 500 victories while driving for his own team. Since his retirement from driving in 1993, his team has continued to win, claiming two more national titles and the 1999 Indy 500 with Kenny Brack. At WWT Raceway, the team has five top-10 finishes, three of which were in the top-five, including a fifth place last year with Sebastien Bourdais and a third place in 2019 with Tony Kanaan.

The No. 14 Bommarito Chevrolet will be driven by rookie Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 Indy Lights Champion who won a pole and finished second in both Indy Lights races last year at the 1.25-mile oval track at WWT Raceway. The 23-year-old Floridian’s meteoric ascent to the NTT INDYCAR Series is marked by consecutive championships in the three-tier Road to Indy ladder series.

Bommarito Automotive Group is Missouri’s largest automotive group that began with a single Oldsmobile dealership managed by Frank Bommarito over 50 years ago. In 1998, Frank Bommarito handed over the reins to his son John Bommarito who continued to build the network of dealerships to its present number of 20 locations employing over 900 team members in the St. Louis area.

“We are honored to be a part of bringing the NTT IndyCar Series to the St. Louis region. Thanks to the support of race fans across the country, we’ve demonstrated that when you win on the weekend it generates sales on Monday,” said John Bommarito, President of the Bommarito Automotive Group.

“As an iconic brand here in the St. Louis marketplace and selling vehicles nationwide, the Bommarito Automotive Group could not be more proud to adorn the iconic AJ Foyt Racing No. 14 Chevy, driven by Kyle Kirkwood, for the 6th Annual Bommarito Automotive Group 500 right here in our own hometown. Bommarito and A.J. “Super Tex” Foyt, together making history.”

“I’ve been a dedicated race fan for decades and to have the opportunity to partner with AJ Foyt Racing at the sixth annual Bommarito Automotive Group 500 is an honor,” said Chuck Wallis, Vice President and General Manager of the Bommarito Automotive Group. “To be able to be involved in the motorsports industry at the level Bommarito has dedicated to it is an absolute dream come true.”

Tickets for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 are on sale now at WWTRaceway.com. The race will be broadcast by the USA Network Aug. 20, Saturday night starting at 6 p.m. ET.

About Bommarito Automotive Group For over 50 years, Bommarito has been a staple in the St. Louis marketplace. The Bommarito Automotive Group currently operates 20 automotive locations throughout every St. Louis neighborhood, led by President John Bommarito and over 900 dedicated team members. Bommarito is recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal as Missouri’s No. 1 Automotive Group.

Bommarito Automotive Group continues to grow its brand while also growing its involvement in motorsports. Bommarito began its motorsports involvement in 2015 with Jordan Anderson Racing and since has evolved into Jordan Anderson Racing with Bommarito Autosport and are owners of the No. 31 NASCAR Xfinity team with driver Myatt Snyder and the No. 3 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Bommarito also holds the title sponsorship for the Bommarito 500 NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at WWTR since 2017. In addition, Bommarito now is involved with the sponsorship of the Vasser Sullivan IMSA team which recently has earned podium finishes in consecutive races. Recently they were the primary sponsor on the iconic #43 Richard Petty NASCAR CUP car at the inaugural Cup Race at WWT Raceway. And now they are proud to announce the partnership with AJ Foyt Racing for the 6th Annual Bommarito 500 with Kyle Kirkwood in the driver seat.

Visit online 24/7 at Bommarito.com and follow their social channels @BommaritoAuto and @BommaritoAutoSport

Rebel Bourbon

For more than 170 years, Rebel Bourbon has been bridging the gap between its proud heritage and modern tastes to honor the rebel spirit that lives in each of us. Featuring an award-winning recipe that dates back to 1849, Rebel Bourbon is made using only the purest Kentucky limestone-filtered water, a wheated mash bill and new, charred American white-oak barrels for aging. The result is a bourbon with a big, round body and full flavor that is defiantly smooth. A spirit of rebellion can be found in every bottle of Rebel Bourbon, making it a favorite among purists and trailblazers alike. Unapologetically original and brazenly bold, Rebel Bourbon invites anyone seeking a bit of defiance, freedom, attitude and a taste of the rebel spirit to “Be More Rebel.” Visit rebelbourbon.com to learn more.

Kirkwood Leads First Detroit Practice

Note: I did not feel well yesterday and left the track before practic began. I took a rapid COVID test bwhich was positive, then I arranged a PCR test. I should get those results today. I am heading home this morning to isolate if necessary.

Kyle Kirkwood put up the fastest time in yesterday’s first practice session for the Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit. The A. J. Foyt Racing driver turned a lap of 1:16.1345 edged Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi. All three drivers have announced new deals for 2023. O’Ward extended his contract with Arrow McLaren SP, Rossi joins O’Ward as a teammate next year, Kirkwood moves into Rossi’s current ride at Andretti Autosport.

Felix Rosenqvist slid in turn 1 and hit the barrier. The car suffered moderate damage.

Kirkwood also was fastest in practice in the IMSA GTD class.

The Day at Belle Isle

The Friday crowd was vary large for the final race on the island.

It was nice to see activity nin the infield again. In 2021 all vendors were outside the track.

Instead of a food court the food trucks lined up on na drive just before the paddock. The event provided many more tables this year.

I will report remotely the rest of the weelend, and we will see what happens as afr as Road America goes.

Kirkwood Comfortable on IMS Oval

Kyle Kirkwood is excited to be in his first 500. I spoke with the A. J. Foyt Racing driver yesterday after practice.

“It’s a really cool thing,” Kirkwood said of driving in the 500 for the first time.

He was happy with his morning run when the number 14 car finished 11th.

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

“We did the most laps out of everyone. So we’re getting the critical things that we’ve got to take everything apart, put our car back together and we seem to be better than we started off for some reason. So we’re happy with everything works around.”

Kirkwood felt his car picked up where they stopped at the end of the open test last month.

“You know, it’s just starting off. Everyone’s kind of starting off slow because it’s such a long, such a long two weeks of testing and everything so it’s really just making sure we got all the big things sorted out and we’ll start fine tuning the car as days go on,” Kirkwood said.

“We feel good. I think the conditions are quite a bit different than they were at the at the open test. I think everyone out there seemed to struggle a little bit more in traffic, for whatever that reason,” he continued. “We’ve had some rain over the past couple weeks and the track might have been a bit dirty. Possible. . But we feel we feel okay at the moment.”

The team’s plan for yesterday afternoon was “We’ve got a big list of items that we need to get through this next week and we’re just hitting all this off gathering as much data together and then we’ll reconvene or go back over it at some point, either at the end of this week or next week and figure out exactly what we have and we’re looking forward to get through these types of items and hopefully ended up with a really good car at the end.”

At St. Pete Kirkwood mentioned that he didn’t have much oval experience. Racing at Texas seems to have helped his confidence on ovals.

“Yeah, I’m very comfortable. It’s a bit different than Texas is given how flat the track is. But I feel very comfortable in the number 14 Rokit Chevrolet. “

Kirkwood ended up 21st in the afternoon session. It’s not unusual to see cars slide backwards in the second practice session as the team tries different setups.

Kellett Stays at Foyt; Grid Update

Dalton Kellett moves from part to full time at A. J. Foyt Racing for 2021. He will drive the number 4 car alongside teammate Sebastien Bourdais in the 14. K-Line continues as his sponsor. The release from A. J. Foyt Racing:

WALLER, Texas (Dec. 15, 2020)—Canadian Dalton Kellett will drive A.J. Foyt’s No. 4 Chevrolet full-time in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series. K-Line Insulators USA returns as the primary sponsor, moving from the No. 14 to the No. 4 for the upcoming season.

The 27-year-old rookie drove for Foyt in eight races this year as driving duties behind the wheel of the No. 14 Chevrolet were shared throughout the 14-race season by three drivers: Kellett, Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais returns to drive the No. 14 Chevrolet full-time as announced earlier this year. 

“I couldn’t be more excited to be back with AJ Foyt Racing for the 2021 season,” said Kellett, who lives in Indianapolis. “Securing a full-time ride is a big boost heading into my sophomore year in INDYCAR. Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 in 2020, A.J., Larry, and the Foyt team continued to develop their car and elevate the program, while standing by their employees and partners. That’s the kind of team I’m proud to both race for and be a part of. Being paired with Sebastian will be a great opportunity to continue to learn from one of the most experienced veterans in the field. I can’t wait to get back on the track for off-season testing and back behind the wheel in 2021.”

Next year the NTT INDYCAR Series schedule features 17 races, including a doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway in early May and a new street course in Nashville, Tenn. in August.

Despite the challenges of Kellett’s rookie season taking place during a pandemic which sharply curtailed the normal track activity, he displayed a keen ability to stay focused and adapt, which factored into Foyt’s decision to retain Kellett for 2021.

“We are very happy to have Dalton back with the team and more importantly that he will be driving full-time,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “With the limited track time in 2020, it was a tough year to be a rookie, but he jumped in with a great attitude and adjusted to the Indy car quite well. He was getting quicker with each event and had a great test at Barber [Motorsports Park] recently. I think Dalton will truly benefit from having four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais there full-time.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how our team progresses in 2021.” 

The first scheduled team test will be in January at Sebring International Raceway in central Florida. The 2021 INDYCAR season gets underway on Sunday, March 7th in St. Petersburg, Fla.

(Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

This story will be updated with comments later this afternoon.

The 2021 Grid- Confirmed Teams

This list includes only full time car/driver combinations that have been confirmed.

Team Penske (4)

Josef Newgarden

Will Power

Simon Pagenaud

Scott McLaughlin (R)

Chip Ganassi Racing (4)

Scott Dixon

Marcus Ericsson

Alex Palou

Jimmie Johnson (R) road/street only/ Tony Kanaan ovals

Andretti Autosport (2)

Alexander Rossi

Colton Herta

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2)

Takuma Sato

Graham Rahal

A. J. Foyt Racing (2)

Sebastien Bourdais

Dalton Kellett

Ed Carpenter Racing (2)

Rinus VeeKay

Ed Carpenter- ovals only

Arrow McLaren SP (2)

Pato O’Ward

Felix Rosenqvist

Meyer Shank Racing (1)

Jack Harvey

A Busy Day at Sebring

It was a busy day at Sebring today as several teams wound up their preseason test. With less than two weeks to go before the St. Pete opening race, 15 cars were on track in the ‘thours I was at the track. I didn’t see either of the Arrow McLaren SP cars or any of the Penske drivers. Their transporters were there. They may have gone out after I left at 2:30.

Teams that I saw were Andretti, Ganassi,  Coyne, Foyt, Meyer Shank Racing, Carlin, and Dragonspeed. I believe Felipe Nasr was in the Carlin car. I did not see Max Chilton  on track.

Here are a few photos from the day. More will we posted on The Pit Window”s Facebook page tomorrow.

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Indycar Season Preview, Part I: Coyne, Foyt, Carlin Look to Improve

Photo by Kyle McInnes

It’s time for my annual projection of how I think each team will perform in the NTT Indycar Series in 2020. This is the first of three parts on a team by team breakdown.

Carlin

Driver stability looks to be an issue once again for this team. Carlin placed only one car in the Indianapolis 500. Max Chilton chose to not run ovals. Charlie Kimball ran just seven races.  Conor Daly did a decent job running the ovals, but he is no longer available.

With Chilton returning for the road courses in car 59. the team still has to find a driver for the ovals for that car and a full time driver for the 31. While it looks as if Felipe Nasr may drive most of the races in the second car, nothing is confirmed. Nasr would be a great addition to an already talented grid. He was quick at the COTA test.

Carlin will struggle, especially the first half of the year. If they can get affirm driver lineup before St. Pete, we could see some progress after the Indianapolis 500.

Foyt

Optimism abounds at A. J. Foyt Racing. A new driver lineup, which I think is a bit of improvement, makes the outlook brighter. Charlie Kimball has the full time ride in car 4. His engineering background should help the team improve. Three drivers will share car 14. I think the first driver in it holds the key to their season.

Sebastien Bourdais will be in the 14 for the first three races of 2020. I believe that is how long Foyt has to get everything in place for the rest of the year. Between Kimball’s engineering and Bourdais’s experience, the team has a great opportunity to set up for a successful season. The unknown factor is how rookie Dalton Kellett does in his eight road/street events.

Tony Kanaan will drive the 14 in the oval races as he phases out his career as a regular in the series. Ovals have been the strong suit for Foyt. Kanaan has qualified well at Indianapolis and finished third at Gateway last season.

I think the team will be better than last year. I can see a couple more top tens and possibly a few second round entries in road and street course qualifying.

Coyne

2019 wasn’t a terrible season for cars under the Coyne umbrella, but they were expecting a bit more. I think one car will improve while the second car may surprise some people but have a few hiccups along the way. Santino Ferrucci moves to the 18 car for his second Indycar season. Rookie Alex Palou, who looked decent at Spring Training, is in the 19.

The team lost engineer Craig Hampson, who went to Arrow McLaren SP, and had some other personnel changes as well. This may change the dynamic a bit at Coyne, but they are such a close knit group that the effects should be minimal.

Ferrucci had many flashes of brilliance last year and ended third in the Rookie of the Year standings. He was Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis. Ferrucci seems to have a natural knack for ovals. He was in contention for the win at Gateway. He is my dark horse candidate for a season top 10 finish.

Alex Palou could surprise some people. He won’t have Ferrucci’s  2019 advantage of an experienced teammate, but he is quick. How long it takes to channel that quickness to the nuances of an Indycar weekend will determine how his year goes. He joins a very talented rookie class, which I’ll discuss next week. The Indycar youth movement continues.

Coyne should have some slightly better results this season, especially from Ferrucci.

Tomorrow- Ed Carpenter Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Meyer Shank Racing, and Arrow McLaren SP.

 

Foyt Looking to Reset with Kimball

Photo from Charlie Kimball’s Twitter page

“Let’s hit the reset button,” Larry Foyt said, We want our effort to start showing results.”

Foyt explained one of the reasons the team signed Charlie Kimball for the full season ride in their car number 4 for 2020. He is impressed with the feedback Kimball provides. “I enjoyed the challenge of bringing my Indycar experience to Carlin,” Kimball said. He hopes to do the same thing at A. J. Foyt Racing.

Kimbal is looking forward to running a full season after a brief part time stint with Carlin in 2019.  “I would not have survived a,a,partial schedule again. It was really tough on me watching races from the sideline,” he said.

“Running a full schedule allows me to stay in rhythm,” Kimball added. He said he felt other drivers were ahead of him when he drove since they were driving every race.

Kimball thanked his sponsor Novo Nordisk, his sponsor for the last twelve years. The company which has been with Kimball since his Indy Lights days will be the primary sponsor for six races during the upcoming season.

Foyt said last year the team went the wrong direction on dampers. “Our setups showed well off the track, but they didn’t work when the track changed. Our setups weren’t working with the dampers.” He hopes Kimball’s mechanical feedback can help point the team in the correct direction.

Team goals for 2020 are second round qualifying on road and street courses and fighting for the top 10 in the championship. Kimball sees no reason the team can’t qualify in the top 12 at Indianapolis or perhaps be in the Fast 9.

Foyt said the number 14 car is a “work in progress.” An announcement may come in a couple of weeks. Asked about Tony Kanaan, Foyt answered, I’m sure he will be part of the team.”

Thoughts

Whatever some may think of Kimball’s driving ability, I have to tip my hat to any driver who runs a partial season after being a full time driver then bounces back with a full time ride the following season. That doesn’t happen very often.I’m not su

Kimball Has a decent record in the Indianapolis 500 with four top 10 finishes in nine races. He was third in 2015 and fifth in 2016. Foyt’s cars have run well at IMS. This could be an interesting combination in May.

I think Foyt’s team goals will be difficult to achieve. The top 10 is a tough club to break into. I could see some good results and some road/street qualifying success, but I’m not sure we’ll see the consistency he’s looking for this year. His goals are admirable and I hope the team gets a sniff of them.

Rumors are that the 14 car will be shared by Sebastien Bourdais, Dalton Kellett, and Tony Kanaan. Kanaan is slated for the ovals, I’m hearing. Kimball will need to provide strong feedback to the drivers, especially the rookie Kellett.

The Foyt cars may be hard to spot for a couple races without the familiar ABC Supply Co. logos. I’m glad they will return for the Indianapolis 500. Iwill misss them the rest of the season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pit Window Plays Santa

The big day approaches rapidly, and The Pit Window has gifts for Indycar. Before I pass them out, I want to thank everyone who has read the column this year. There has been a 300% increase in readership in 2018. I am humbled and appreciative. I hope everyone has a great holiday season no matter what or how you celebrate. On to the gifts.

For Indycar- An improved aero package for ovals. The street and road package is great. I hope you can find the answer to improve the oval racing. It seemed to improve as the year went on.

For IMS-

A tweak to the Indy 500 qualifying format to accomodate the larger entry list.

An IMSA race for 2020.

For A. J. Foyt Racing- Some top five finishes in 2019.

For Juncos Racing- A car on the grid for several races, including the 500.

For Zach Veach- Your first Indycar victory.

For Scott Dixon- Your first back to back championship.

For Will Power- Another Indy 500 win. The celebration was worth it.

For Robert Wickens- Continued progress toward full recovery. Watching you battle has been inspiring. You were a joy to watch on track, and you have shown that same spirit in therapy..

For McLaren- A successful Indy debut that leads to fuller participation in the series.

For NBC- Great coverage of all races and an outstanding Indy 500 broadcast.

For All Teams and Drivers- A safe, competitive 2019 season.

I will return mid week next week with a news roundup and a look at what you’ll see here in 2019.

Happy Holidays to all.