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.

Drivers Branching Out- A Good Thing

Photo: James Davison at Indianpolis in 2018

What used to be routine is now causing a stir. Several drivers made  news last week when they announced deals to drive a few races in a series other than their main one. To me, this is not a big deal. Drivers used to be itinerant gypsies, driving several times a week in different kinds of cars.

It wasn’t unusual to see the winner of the Indianapolis 500 in a sprint or midget race three days after collecting his check at the Victory banquet, then heading to Milwaukee the next weekend for another Indycar race. I seem to recall a year when A. J. Foyt led the standings in Indycar, USAC sprints, and USAC midgets. Foyt also won the Daytona 500 and LeMans. Mario Andretti also won Daytona and the F1 world championship. Lloyd Ruby and Dan Gurney had success driving almost anything.

Those days are pretty much gone now, but it seems as if drivers are starting to look for rides in different series again. In the past 12 months, Alexander Rossi has driven in Indycar, the Baja 1,00, and the Bathurst 12 hour race. I like that racers are starting to fill gaps in their schedules with more races. Fans find a newseries they enjoy while their favorite competes inanoher form of racing.

Outside of Indycar, Fernando Alonso left his Formula 1 ride to drive in the World Endurance Championship full time. He also drove for the winning Wayne Taylor Racing entry in the 2019 Rolex 24. Alonso has one Indianapolis 500 start on his resume and will participate n the Dakar Rally.

The most fascinating announcement last week concerned James Davison, mainly because he will have the same sponsor in both the Daytona 500 and at Indy. I think we may be seeing the beginning of a sponsorship trend.

I would like to see more arrangements like this for these two races. It gives potential sponsors two races instead of one. Sponsors also get great exposure from the two largest U.S. events on the racing calendar.  We also get to see a driver run in both NASCAR and the NTT Indycar Series.

To recap last week’s announcements:

Indianapolis 500 veteran James Davison will attempt to qualify for the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. The effort is part of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing. Byrd’s, led by David Byrd, has paired with Davison the last two years at Indianapolis.  Oilfire Whiskey will be the primary sponsor at Daytona and an associate sponsor in May.

Davison has four start in NASCAR’s Xfinity series, all on road courses. The Daytona 500 will be his first drive in a Cup Series race. Davison has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He had a career best finish of 12th in 2019.

Dixon Gets a Ride Near Home

Scott Dixon will drive in the Bathurst 12 hour in Australia. In 2019, Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe teamed up in this race. Dixon will drive an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 car sponsored by Castrol. The race is just a week after the 2008 500 winner participates in the Rolex 24 with Wayne Taylor Racing.

After the Indycar opener in St. Pete in March, Dixon will have driven in three different series in seven weeks.

Bourdais, Leist Focus on IMSA

As of now, Sebastien Bourdais will drive full time in IMSA. He may get an Indycar drive or two.

Matheus Leist, who drove for A. J. Foyt Racing the last two seasons, will join JDC-Miller car 85 as the extra driver for IMSA’a four endurance races- the Rolex 24, 12 Hours of Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit LeMans. Leist will not drive for Foyt. I don’t see him getting any Indycar rides except possibly in May. In two Indianaolis 500s, Leist finished 13th in 2018 and 15th in 2019.

Thoughts for Bill Simpson

Safety innovator Bill Simpson suffered a major stroke this weekend. Please keep him in your thoughts.

 

Bourdais Leaves Coyne; Signs with IMSA Team

Editor’s note: I just arrived at Winter Headquarters and saw the news. Here are some brief thoughts. I will follow up in a day or two.

Photo: Kyle McInnes

The NTT Indycar  Series November of change added another shock today with the announcement of an amicable separation of Sebastien Bourdais and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan. The news follows the November 4 sale of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the series to Roger Penske and the release of Spencer Pigot from Ed Carpenter Racing. The 2020 grid will look very different from the 2019 grid. Bourdais will race for JDC -Miller in the number 5 Cadillac prototype with Jaoao Barbosa, who drove the same car last year fro Action Express.

The opening raises several questions. Is this where James Hinchcliffe will land? I’ve seen different answers from different sources. Since Honda pulled its support from Bourdais, is that money available for Hinchcliffe? Could Conor Daly take the seat? I’m not sure his Air Force money is enough for a full season. Will we see another driver from Europe driving for Coyne next year?

The 2020 grid is now missing three full time drivers from 2019- Hinchcliffe, Pigot, and Bourdais. I’m still not sure Tony Kanaan will be full time next season.

Meanwhile, the rookie battle for 2020 is set with Oliver Askew at AMSP and Rinus VeeKay at Ed Carpenter Racing. It could be close as both are on teams with fairly similar results in 2019. The outcome may depend on which team improves. AMSP with its new influx of resources or ECR, which is still looking for funding.

Goodbye to a Champion

Bourdais, who will 41 years old by the time the season begins, likely will not return to Indycar. His deal with JDC-Miller is for the next two seasons. Bourdais had a great career in Indycar. He is a four time season champion in ChampCar (2004,2005,2006,2007), has 37 wins, which ranks fourth all time, and  earned 34 poles.

In late 2016 he returned to race in the last couple if races in that season after his horrible crash in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. In 2017 Bourdais won the season opener at his hometown of St. Pete and repeated the victory the following year.

I was fortunate to see several of his wins. My favorite was at Milwaukee in 2015 when Bourdais took the lead halfway through the race and ran away from the rest of the field.

 

 

 

Qualifying Day at Portland

Good morning from Portland International Raceway for Day two of the Grand Prix of Portland. Today’s NTT Indycar Series schedule:  All times Eastern

Practice 3–  2:00 pm-2:45   NBC Gold

Qualifying- 6:00 pm- 7:15    NBC Sports

In addition to the Indycar action, all three steps on the Road to Indy run their first of two races today. Rinus VeeKay has the pole for the Indy Lights race at 4:50 pm Eastern.

Sebastien Bourdais’s practice yesterday afternoon was similar to last year’s Saturday practice here. In bot sessions he set the fastest lap then ran off course in turn 11.  The difference is this year the nose of his car barely nudged the tires. Last year’s damage had Bourdais qualifying and racing a car made up of a mixture of parts.

I will try to find out about the 2020 schedule today and see if I confirm some other things I’m hearing. I’ll be back after practice 3.

Here are a couple of photos from Kyle McInnes. One is of Bourdais, the other is Simon Pagenaud preparing for next week’s BC39 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

wp-15672586640084219708042914784594.jpg

 

wp-15672586830869167976309233592203.jpg

Updated: Bourdais Nips Power in Practice 2

Sebastien Bourdais recorded the fastest lap in Practice 2, setting the quick time with about five minutes to go in the session. Will Power had set the fast time with about 20 minutes left in the practice. Bourdais’ lap was 57.923 seconds. He bettered Power quick time by 0.0289 seconds.

After Bourdais’s fast lap, he went off track in turn 11 and slid gently into the tire barrier. There just two minutes remaining in the session. The red flag ended the practice period.

Felix Rosenqvist led the majority of the afternoon. Colton Herta was fourth after leading morning practice.

wp-15672054811937822588216392732412.jpg
Colton Herta set the fastest time of the day in this morning’s practice. Photo: Kyle McInnes

Teams are preparing for the put stop practice session, a 30 minute period.

Notes

Another great Friday crowd is on hand at Portland. This event has been embraced by the fans here.

If as much dust is kicked up tomorrow during qualifying as has been put on the track today, it will be an interesting qualifying session.

Times were faster in session one. Most teams didn’t go to the red tires this afternoon until there were less than 10 minutes left.

I hope we see more of the Oberto livery on Marco Andretti’s car next year.  It’s the best livery that car uses.

In the warmup/pit stop practice session, Ryan Hunter-Reay had the best lap at 58.2729.

Indycar’s final practice is tomorrow at 2 pm Eastern and qualifying is at 6 pm Eastern.

Back later with a wrap up of the entire day.

Daly, Air Force Join Andretti for Indy 500

Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Conor Daly will drive a fifth car with sponsorship from the U. S. Air Force in the103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. The Air Force will also be an associate sponsor on the  Andretti cars of Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, and Zach Veach for the entire season. Daly will carry number 25.

Daly drove in the 2018 500 with Air Force sponsorship as part of Dale Coyne’s team. He started last and finished 21st, completing 199 laps. This will be Daly’s sixth 500. His rookie season was 2013. He returned to the 500 in 2015. His best starting spot was 22nd in 2015. Last year was his best finish and also the race in which he completed the most laps. This is the best car and team Daly will have had for the race.

“It’s my best shot at at the race ever. I can’t wait to get to work,” Daly said.

Michael Andretti said they are working on a few things to possibly get Daly in more races this year. He has no plans to add a sixth ca for this year’s 500 entry list.

Daly drove in just one race, Mid Ohio, for Harding. He was competitive, giving Harding its best starting spot to that point.  He ran well in the race but ran out fuel with two laps left and finished 20th. In2017 Daly drove full time for A. J. Foyt Racing.

Catching Up with Indycar News

Gateway18 041

Vasser Sullivan and Dale Coyne have signed a multi year agreement which has Sebastien Bourdais staying in car 18.  Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan became a partnership last year. Nice to see Coyne will have some driver stability and additional resources. Bourdais won the 2018 opening race in St. Pete. It was his second consecutive win in his hometown race.

More Boost at Iowa, Gateway

The NTT Indycar Series announced cars will receive increased boost at short ovals Iowa and Gateway in 2019. The higher boost will necessitate more braking in the turns, which should allow more passing. The boost will increase to 150 kPa, the same as on road and street courses. In 2018 cars were allowed 140 kPa on the short ovals. Superspeedway boost for races is 130Pa. Please do not ask me what kPa means.

Allen Miller of HPD says the goal of 90 horsepower for the new 2.4 liter engine is “very realistic.”

The series continues to seek more ways to improve the racing.  This measure sounds like a bridge to the higher horsepower in the 2021 formula.

Helio at Le Mans?

Three timne Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves is close to finalizing a deal to drive in the Le Mans 24 hour race this year. Castroneves, who now drives full time for Team Penske Acura in the IMSA Weather Tech Championship, will drive for the RLR group in the LMP2 class. The team uses an Oreca 07 chassis, which has been dominant in Europe.

Castroneves was one of the drivers in the third place car at last weekend’s Rolex 24.

Indianapolis 500 Ticket Unveiled

Last Indianapolis Motor Speedway revealed the design for the 2019 Indianapolis 500. I’m always excited to see the new ticket. This year’s design I find disappointing. The photo of Will Power that was used is okay, but a photo of him when he first go out of the car would have been better. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a driver express that much unbridled joy after winning.

wp-15487172842406092296585286815037.jpg

Rolex 24 Post Script

I’ll end today with four photos from last weekend’s Rolex 24

img_5003

img_5023
This pretty much sums up Sunday morning.

 

img_5018img_4953

Just Announced

Indianapolis Motor Speedway  just announced a press conference tomorrow  afternoon for a major announcement regarding the 500. I’m guessing a presenting sponsor will be named.