As has been speculated since late last year, AJ Foyt Racing announced today that it will compete with Chevrolet engines and aero kits for its two ABC Supply entries in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series.
It is a reunion for team owner A.J. Foyt, whose last race as an Indy car driver came with Chevy power at the 1992 Indianapolis 500 (shown at left) and whose Verizon IndyCar Series team ran Chevrolet engines as recently as 2005 with grandson A.J. Foyt IV at the wheel.
"I am looking forward to what will be a new chapter for us that involves returning to an old friend in Chevrolet,” said Larry Foyt, the team president and A.J. Foyt’s son. “There are a lot of changes happening within our team this offseason and I won’t minimize the challenges, but I see a lot of potential with our plan.”
The team’s switch from Honda had been anticipated since Chip Ganassi Racing changed suppliers from Chevrolet to Honda in October. New Foyt drivers Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz – who both drove Hondas in 2016 – will get their first chance to try out the Chevy equipment during a private team test at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway later this month.
“We are pleased to welcome AJ Foyt Racing to the Chevrolet Indy car program,” said Mark Kent, director of Chevrolet motorsports competition. “Chevrolet and Foyt both have long histories in Indy car racing, including prior opportunities to work together. We look forward to renewing the partnership and a strong start to the 2017 season.”
A.J. Foyt, whose 67 Indy car wins are the most of any driver, competed in Chevrolet-powered cars throughout his illustrious career, whether it was in Indy cars, stock cars, sports cars or sprint cars. In his final Indy car race as a driver, Foyt drove the Chevy-powered No. 14 to a ninth-place Indianapolis 500 finish at age 57. He also qualified second at Indy in 1991 in his Chevy-powered car, completing a legends front row that included pole winner Rick Mears and Foyt’s longtime rival, Mario Andretti.
The last time that A.J. Foyt drove a Chevrolet-powered car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the Chevrolet Camaro he used to pace the field for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 in 2011.
“I’m glad to be back with Chevy,” said A.J. Foyt, the first four-time winner of the Indy 500. “I’ve had a lot of success with them in the past and I’m looking forward to more success in the future.”
Race Of Champions draw provides dramatic matchups
Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves assisted with Monday’s draw for the individual and nations competitions at this week’s Race Of Champions in Miami, and it made for some very intriguing matchups.
Drivers from multiple racing disciplines including INDYCAR, NASCAR, Formula One, rallycross and more will compete Saturday and Sunday in identically prepared cars on a temporary track set up inside Marlins Park, the home of baseball’s Miami Marlins. INDYCAR drivers scheduled to compete are Hunter-Reay, Castroneves, James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander Rossi and Gabby Chaves.
In Saturday’s individual competition, Hinchcliffe and Kanaan are poised to square off in the opening round of Group C. Castroneves is in Group A and will battle the winner of a playoff race between 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Rossi and another Andretti Autosport driver, Global Rallycross champ Scott Speed.
“It’s unbelievable to be back in South Florida racing cars again,” Hunter-Reay said. “I did the Miami Grand Prix back in the day (in CART), but to see a racetrack taking shape here in Marlins Park, where I bring my family for games, is incredible. And I also think it’s the best layout yet. I’m a hometown guy so hopefully the crowd will be cheering me on against two former ROC champions in my group.”
Montoya faces the challenge of two-time FIA World Rallycross champ Peter Solberg in the opening round of Group B, while Hunter-Reay is squared off with ex-Formula One standout and two-time ROC champion David Coulthard in Group D.
The Nations Cup competition on Sunday finds Team USA INDYCAR (Hunter-Reay and Rossi) in the same group as Team USA NASCAR (brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch), Team USA Rally X (Speed and Travis Pastrana) and Team ROC Factor Canada (Hinchcliffe and Stefan Rzadzinski).
Nations Cup Group C is loaded with INDYCAR talent. Montoya and Chaves make up Team Colombia, Kanaan and F1’s Felipe Massa are Team Brazil and Castroneves holds up the Team ROC Factor Latin America banner with Gabriel Glusman.
“This is all about having a good time,” Castroneves said. “As for my group? I’m not worried! No, I respect all of the drivers and every one of them competing has some amazing qualities, plus switching cars throughout the event means the advantage will constantly be shifting. That’s why this is such a great event.”
In addition to the Nations Cup competition Sunday, the event will conclude with an America vs. the World competition that puts the six U.S. drivers against a team of six international drivers in a Ryder Cup-style competition.
For Race Of Champions schedule and ticket information, visit raceofchampions.com.
Team INDYCAR places two drivers in Chili Bowl Nationals feature
Team INDYCAR had a successful showing in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at Tulsa Expo Raceway on Saturday night, placing two drivers among the top eight finishers.
Tyler Courtney of Clauson-Marshall Racing was the highest-placed finisher among Team INDYCAR’s 10 sponsored drivers, taking sixth in his first Chili Bowl Championship feature race. Courtney, who won his preliminary night race to qualify for the finale, earned $1,000 in contingency money from INDYCAR. Jerry Coons Jr. earned $500 after qualifying for his Chili Bowl-record 14th consecutive Championship feature and placed eighth. Native Oklahoman Christopher Bell won the 55-lap event celebrating its 31st running.
Four other Team INDYCAR drivers reached the B feature – essentially the semifinals, with the top six in each of two races advancing to the Championship feature – but World of Outlaws sprint car champion Donny Schatz came up one spot shy of advancing in the first B race and Dave Darland had a late-race run-in with five-time Chili Bowl winner Sammy Swindell in the second that knocked both veterans out of a chance to transfer to the main event. Chad Boat and David Gravel also reached the B feature but could not advance.