Bourdais Leads Final Practice; Wickens Shines in Return

UPDATE: Mark Wilkins took over for To dry Wickens and finished third in the TCR class. Wickens gets a podium in his first race back.

Sebastien Bourdais led a Cadillac parade in the 01 for Chip Ganassi Racing with the fastest lap in this morning’s final practice. The session was run under cool, cloudy conditions and there was a brief light rain shower. The Cadillacs were ahead of the Acuras, the reverse of how practice has gone to date.

In LMP2 Phil Hanson led the way in the number 22 United Autosport Oreca. Rasmus Lindh was fastest in LMP3 in the Andretti Autosport number 36.

Mirko Bortolotti kept the number 63 Lamborghini (bottom photo) at the top of GTD Pro, and the 79 Porsche (top) driven by Julien Andlauer had the fastest GT. time.

Wickens Competitive in Return Race

Robert Wickens drove in his first competition since his accident at Pocono in 2018 in the BMW M Challenge for the Michelin Pilot Series. Wickens started seventh in the Hyundai Elantra, and moved fourth place early in the first hour of the four hour event. He ran as high as third. Near the end of his stint he had a spirited battle with a Bryan Herta Autosport teammate. Wickens drove for just a bit more than two hours. He showed that the talent which made him a star in Indycar is still there. This will be a fun series tom watch this year.

Wickens heads to turn four during the Michelin Pilot Challenge Race.

Rahal, Bourdais Ready to Move on From Indy

TThe Indianapolis 500 didn’t end well for either Graham Rahal or Sébastien Bourdais, but both are ready to move on to focus on the remaining two-thirds of the Indycar season.

Rahal discussed how his race ended in general terms, concluding,

“Everybody accepted what went wrong. Now we’re moving forward. Now we’re focused on Detroit and making the restof this year as best we can.
I think it’s great to turn the page now, move forward to a race that I’ve loved so much.”

Bourdais, like Rahal a two time winner at Detroit, is also eager to return to a place where he has had success.

“There was that dismal weekend at Texas. None of our fault, but that definitely set the tone a little bit for a bit of a moreconservative 500. When you’ve pretty much already wipedout your crash budget in a matter of 24 hours, I think we allfelt very conservative, maybe a little bit too conservative, in quallie trim and everything…just looking forward to the next ones, keep our a relatively new group kind of all working together
and trying to make the best of our situation in a very, very competitive field right now.”

Rahal and Bourdais expressed apprecifationor Roger Penske and his team for torture of the Detroit Grand Prix, one of the races that was canceled due to the pandemic in 2020.

Bourdais : “…we can thank, like Graham was saying, Roger and the entire team on the INDYCAR SERIES side, the Detroit side for putting all the hard work, letting us do ourthing, doing it all together.
on the weekend ahead.”

Rahal: “I want to say thanks to Roger and Bud and the group for keeping their heads down and making Detroit happen thisyear. I know for a while it was looking pretty limited fan-wise and everything else. We’re certainly excited to be back. It’s become a staple on the INDYCAR circuit. We’re excited to get a chance to turn the page from Indy, move on, hopefully have a great weekend.”

Both drivers expressed concern about the physical nature of the bumpy Belle Isle track and the heat that the aeroscreen will generate in the cockpit.

Bourdais talked about the aeroscreen,
“The aeroscreen safety-wise, particularly for the ovals and the superspeedways, just a single biggest investment forsure is concerned as far as safety is concerned. For me for sure on the street courses I sometimes wish the screenwasn’t there because I feel like it’s making things extremely difficult and uncomfortable in the car. I think it’s just onevery tough compromise, right? You just add that big safetypiece on an existing car that really wasn’t designed for anything like this, how you manage the airflow andeverything around.For sure when it gets hot and humid, particularly on streetcourses, the body temperature inside the 120 degree cockpit gets pretty critical. Yeah, it’s never really a fun last10, 15 laps of those races. Doing it twice in a weekend, I think that dehydration level is going to be tough. “

Rahal added,

” I do think it’s going to be an exceptionally physical weekend. It looks hot, upper 80s and sunny. Detroit doesnot have any long straightaways really. I do think it’s goingto be a pretty physical weekend.Aside from everything else, everybody is pretty used to it now. We’re a year into this thing. The aeroscreen has been a great addition, a great addition to the sportsafety-wise. You look at the saves it’s already had in itstime. I think it’s been great.No, I think we’ll just go at it and try to make sure that youget rested up on Saturday night if you have a full day on Saturday because Sunday is going to be another bruiser.”

Testing Resumes Today; Better Forecast

Today’s schedule at IMS:

9-10 Rookie orientation and Refresher tests

10-11 Veterans

11-6 All cars

Broadcast on Peacock

Photo: Sebastien Bourdais

From Indycar, a summary of Thursday’s Open Test
Track Activity To Resume at 9 a.m. (ET) Friday
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, April 8, 2021) – Sebastien Bourdais of AJ Foyt Racing was the fastest among 32 drivers who turned laps Thursday at the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge Open Test, which included a rain delay of more than five hours at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Frenchman Bourdais was among a group of 11 drivers who took to the 2.5-mile oval in the final 70 minutes of track activity for veteran refresher tests and the Rookie Orientation Program, and he turned a top lap of 224.427 mph in the famous No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet fielded by legendary four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt.

RESULTS: Veteran sessionRookie Orientation/Refreshers

Bourdais turned his top lap in the last few minutes of the final session, which resembled the “Happy Hour” of an Indy 500 practice day with cars running in aerodynamic packs. He was among the veterans who needed to complete the two-phase refresher test since he didn’t race in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 2020.
“Pretty good refresher for the A.J. Foyt No. 14,” Bourdais said. “That ROKiT car was pretty good. It always feels a little different when you start at low speeds and the car’s never really settled, but we got through both phases and are ready to go tomorrow and start working properly. It’s all good.”
Rain halted the opening veterans-only session at 12:30 p.m. (ET). A second heavy shower around 3:15 p.m. delayed track activity until the track reopened at 6:03 p.m. under blue skies and sunshine.
Track activity will take place from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) Friday, with live broadcast coverage on Peacock. Rookie Orientation and refresher tests will take place from 9-10 a.m., with veterans back on track from 10-11 a.m. The track will open for all drivers from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Conor Daly was the second-fastest driver overall and the fastest in the morning session of 90 minutes before heavy rain arrived in Indianapolis. Daly’s top lap was 222.714 in the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet fielded by Ed Carpenter Racing, also with the help of an aerodynamic tow. Sage Karam was third overall at 222.408, with his best lap in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet also coming during the final session after the rain left town. Three-time Indy 500 pole winner Ed Carpenter was fourth at 221.296 in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves rounded out the top five at 221.097 in the No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda.

2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay suffered a broken finger in a crash in Turn 1 just 11 minutes into track activity in his No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet fielded by ECR. He was cleared to drive. VeeKay’s car dipped low into the grass inside Turn 1 and did nearly a full clockwise spin before hitting the SAFER Barrier in Turn 1 with the right front and right side of the car. The car then spun twice and slid through the short chute before stopping at the entrance of Turn 2 with heavy damage. “I wanted to do as many laps as possible to be successful,” VeeKay said. “I’m very sorry. It was a weird moment.” The 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 30. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opens April 17-18 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix presented by AmFirst at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

Signs of Spring- St. Pete Track Build Begins

Photo: A wall section goes into place on Dan Wheldon Way. Photo from GPSTPETE Twitter page

A welcome sight in downtown St. Petersburg, although a month later than usual, today was the first day of the track build for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The race has been the traditional opening round of the NTT Indycar Series. Because of the pandemic in 2020, the race took place in August last year. In 2021, this will be the second race race of the year. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will open the year April 18, followed by St Pete the following weekend.

St. Petersburg has quite an extensive heritage of street racing dating back to the 1980s. I wrote a piece about the early racing last October.

You can find it here:

On hand for today’s ceremonies A. J. Foyt racing driver Sebastien Bourdais, a resident of St. Petersburg. Bourdais won this race in 2017 and 2018

The event has a 20,000 fans per day limit. Three day tickets are on sale now at

VeeKay Reveals 2021 Livery

Ed Carpenter racing driver Rinus VeeKay revealed the livery for car 21 on Twitter this morning. The car is basically the same as lat year’s. Sonax is the main sponsor with help fro Netherlands grocer Jumbo.

The 2020 Rookie of the Year won his first pole and earned his first podium finish at the Harvest Grand Prix last Octoberat Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think he will have a great season in 2021.

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

Thoughts on Sebring: Broken Wing Victory in a Race of Bumper Cars

I have a dream that one day in an IMSA race the entire DPi class will fall out and the overall winner will be an LMP2 or GTLM car. Last night my dream nearly came true. The DPi cars seem to have a way of making things difficult for themselves, whether it’s squeezing each other into barriers, penalties for excessive drive time, pit mistakes, or on track collisions, the top class always entertains.

The result was unlikely winner, the number 5 Mustang sampling DPi Cadillac driven by Sebastien BGourdais, Loic Duval, and Tristan Vautier. Bourdais drove the anchor leg and led the final hour and 10 minutes. The car finished the race with a broken rear wing to edge out the Mazda of Harry Tincknell.

It was an improbable win for a team that had struggled to find speed all weekend, but the car and the race came to them, with an assist from the rest of the class.


Porsche swept the GT categories with victories in GTLM and GTD. The GTLm win by the 79 resembled the follies of DPi, with a late collision of the BMW and Corvette allowing Matheiu Jaminet to grab the lead from what appeared to be a third place finish.

The GTLM winner Pfaff Motorsports benefitted from the expertise of Laurens Vanthoor, who piloted the Canadian team to the win.

A good run by Simon Pagenaud in the 48 DPi topped a difficult day for the team. Jimmie Johnson spun and made contact with another car in the foirst hour of the race. The team climbed back into contention later in the day, Pagenaud stayed in the cat 50 seconds too long, disqualifying the car, which was third on the track at the end. I don’t understand why IMSA allows a car to keep running after it is known that car will be disqualified.

Katherine Legge had a great run in the 88 Hardpoint car. She was in line for a podium until a penalty for contact dropped her to 5th in class. The team, co-driven by Christina Neilsen and Bia Figuerado, still had a good run in just their second outing.

I understand IMSA’s desire to have as many cars in a race as possible, but when GTLM cars are faster than LMP3’s, it’s a bit concerning.

I hope but I doubt that NBC is over their Jimmie Johnson love fest. I admire him that after his success in NASCAR that he is trying a completely different motorsports discipline, but NBC’s coverage of him is overkill. The nice thing about Indycar is that he will be in the car the entire race and unavailable for interviews during the races.

The final results from the IMSA website:

1651Loic DuvalSebastien BourdaisTristan VautierMustang Sampling / JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi34901:46.679Running
24552Oliver JarvisHarry TincknellJonathan BomaritoMazda Motorsports Mazda DPi34901:46.841Running
35603Olivier PlaJuanPablo MontoyaDane CameronMeyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian Acura DPi34901:46.641Running
42104Alexander RossiRicky TaylorFilipe AlbuquerqueKonica Minolta Acura ARX-05 Acura DPi34901:46.654Running
53015Rengervander ZandeKevin MagnussenScott DixonCadillac DPi34701:46.151Running
69521Scott HuffakerBen KeatingMikkel JensenPR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 0734401:48.474Running
710182Ryan DalzielDwight MerrimanKyle TilleyEra Motorsport ORECA LMP2 0734401:48.944Running
824791Matt CampbellCooper MacNeilMathieu JaminetWeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR – 1933401:55.732Running
922252ConnorDe PhillippiPhilipp EngBruno SpenglerBMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE33301:55.727Running
1023243Augusto FarfusJohn EdwardsJesse KrohnBMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE33301:55.861Running
112034Antonio GarciaJordan TaylorNicky CatsburgCorvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R33301:55.642Running
122145Tommy MilnerNick TandyAlexander SimsCorvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R33001:57.236Running
1316541Colin BraunJonathan BennettGeorge KurtzCore Autosport Ligier JS P32032901:56.166Running
1417912Dylan MurryJeroen BleekemolenJim CoxRiley Motorsports Ligier JS P32032901:56.281Running
1515743Scott AndrewsGar RobinsonSpencer PigotRiley Motorsports Ligier JS P32032901:56.183Running
161474Oliver AskewAustin McCuskerStevan McAleerForty7 Motorsports Duqueine D0832801:56.589Running
1718335Joao BarbosaYann ClairayLance WillseySean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P32032801:56.340Running
183691Laurens VanthoorLars KernZacharie RobichonPfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R32002:00.835Running
1925162Patrick LongTrent HindmanJan HeylenWright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R32002:00.808Running
2032233Ross GunnIan JamesRomanDe AngelisHeart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT332002:01.402Running
2135444Spencer PumpellyJohn PotterAndy LallyAcura NSX GT332002:01.923Running
2233885Katherine LeggeBia FigueiredoChristina NielsenPorsche 911 GT3R32002:01.484Running
2328126Zach VeachRobert MegennisFrankie MontecalvoVasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT331902:01.450Running
2427147Jack HawksworthKyle KirkwoodAaron TelitzVasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT331302:01.000Running
2529968Bill AuberlenRobby FoleyAidan ReadTurner Motorsport BMW M6 GT331302:01.298Running
2631759Maro EngelMikael GrenierKenny HabulSunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT330402:01.125Running
271316Felipe NasrMike ConwayPipo DeraniWhelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi29201:46.151Running
287487Kamui KobayashiSimon PagenaudJimmie JohnsonCadillac DPi34901:46.424Running
29349910Earl BamberTrenton EstepRob FerriolPorsche 911 GT3R28002:01.325Running
301283Gabriel AubryTim BuretJohn FaranoORECA LMP2 0726601:49.084Running
31196Matthew BellRodrigo SalesNiklas KruettenWIN Autosport Duqueine D0826501:57.106Running
3230111Bryan SellersMadison SnowCorey LewisPaul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT325502:01.353Running
3313387Rasmus LindhDan GoldburgMateo LLarenaPerformance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P32017701:56.981Running
34262812Michaelde QuesadaBilly JohnsonDaniel MoradAlegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT39102:01.960Running
35371913Tim ZimmermannStephen SimpsonFranck PereraGRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT39102:01.501Running
368114Thomas MerrillSteven ThomasTristan NunezWIN Autosport ORECA LMP2 079001:49.619Running
3711225Guy SmithJames McGuireWayne BoydORECA LMP2 0733301:48.673Running

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.


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.