Race Report: Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS May 29, 2016--The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 100 lived up to its tremendous hype. The temperature was hot and so was the action on the track. The overflow crowd saw close racing, 54 lead changes among 13 drivers including Alex Tagliani in the No. 35 Alfe Heat Treating Honda, and Alexander Rossi, a 24-year-old rookie from California, win the Indy 500.

The race began with A.J. Foyt standing on track, giving the signal to the 33-car field to roll out, and receiving a “thumbs up” from honorary pace car driver Roger Penske. Foyt saluted the drivers as they drove past.

Takuma Sato, who started 12thin the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, spent the first half of the race dialing in his car. He dropped to 20th by lap 12 and by lap 80 he found himself battling with his teammates Tagliani and Jack Hawksworth, who started 31st in his ABC Supply Honda.

After the fourth pit stop, Sato began to move to the front as the car was balanced to his liking. He moved into 16th by lap 114. After the fifth stop and a gain of two spots due to his team’s quick service, he moved his way up to sixth by making passes on track. An untimely caution on lap 150 came a lap too early for Sato who was due to pit that lap. When he did pit, he dropped to 10th because others in the field pitted the lap before. On the restart, he lost four more spots and then he brushed the wall coming out of Turn 4. The hit was hard enough to damage his suspension and he was done for the day.

“Tough race,” a dejected Sato said afterwards. “In the beginning we needed to work on the car quite a lot because it was getting very difficult in traffic. We added downforce and then tried to compensate on the balance but it didn’t work. So I just wanted to go to the opposite and it picked up some pace in the end finally so that was good. The ABC Supply boys did a great job in the pits—very fast pit stops and we made up a couple places. At the one stage we looked really strong but unfortunately the yellow caught us and then I got behind in the shuffling around. Then there was a big washout and I ran wide in turn 4. Very tough one.  I’m very thankful to be given the opportunity to run the 100th Indy 500, it was a very special one. It’s just a shame we couldn’t produce a good result. I’m sorry.”

Meanwhile, his teammate Tagliani had made it to the top spot through pit strategy, which after starting 33rd, was significant. He took the lead under caution on lap 117 and kept it under green, leading for 11 laps as he battled eventual winner Rossi before pitting on lap 135.

He made it back to the top 10 again just past the three-quarter mark but he had to pit for fuel with 12 laps to go. He went from eighth to 17th which is where he finished.

“After Carb Day, our car was quite good. I had a really solid car that my A.J. Foyt Racing team gave me today,” Tagliani said. “Thanks to all of the guys for their hard work the whole month. I think it was a really fun car to drive today, and we got some awesome restarts. Somehow, we ran out of luck in some places; we really needed track position when we trimmed. We went back to P20 when we trimmed and that was a bit difficult, but nevertheless I was really happy I had a car I could fight with for the whole race. There were a few things we missed on pit stops when changing wing that weren’t correct, but with the group of guys we had for the short time we worked together, we had a solid race. We just never had track position with a bit of luck on fuel that we could’ve showcased. When we were up front, we needed to save fuel so we could push, and when we were in the back, we were pushing but we were too trim. Again, I’m still really happy with the car. Thanks to Alfe. I’m really honored to represent the Ft. Wayne company here [in Indianapolis]. Given the right circumstances, we could’ve fought for a win today.”

Hawksworth was in the same situation as Sato had been; Hawksworth had to adjust his car throughout the 200-lap race. He made his way into the top half of the field by lap 135. He continued to pass cars and by lap 160, he was 11th at the time his teammate hit the wall.

Then a slight miscue on a pit stop—Hawksworth slid past his marks—cost him seven spots. He slipped to 18th but he did manage to climb back up to 14th. Unfortunately, a vibration in his right rear tire forced him to slow down. He crossed the finish line in 16th for his best finish in the 500 in three tries.

“I thought the no. 41 ABC Supply Honda was pretty good considering that we missed a lot of practice early on in the month,” Hawksworth said. “Throughout the race we kept making it better, chipping away, chipping away after starting at the back. I had a moment coming into the pits in the last stop--so sorry to the guys for that. It cost us some track position. In the end the left rear tire was delaminating (degrading). It was down to the cords so I was hanging on and the car was sliding all over. Not a bad day overall considering the circumstances. Hopefully we can come back in the future and prepare to not have the same issues. Being able to start up front and staying up there is key.”

Rossi became to the 10th rookie to win the 500. Stretching his final fuel stint to 36 laps and running on fumes, he crossed the yard of bricks over 4 seconds ahead of his teammate Carlos Munoz, who to pit for fuel with three laps to go. Rounding out the top five were: Josef Newgarden, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball.

The teams head to Detroit next week for a doubleheader, racing on both Saturday and Sunday. Both races will be broadcast by ABC-TV starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on both days.

 

A.J. Foyt to salute the field of the 100th Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS, May 28, 2016 - As the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil has approached, the history of the race has been celebrated by countless numbers of fans and media.

That history cannot be told without a salute to A.J. Foyt.

On Race Day, the first four-time winner of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will offer a salute of his own to the 33 drivers who will compete in the 100th Running. Foyt will be stationed at the front of the grid and instruct the Pace Car and Row 1 to pull away for the Parade Laps, and as those drivers pull away followed by 30 more, Foyt will salute each one.

"A.J. Foyt has always been my favorite driver and I know so many of our fans hold him in the same regard," Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said. "The 100th Running is all about honoring our history and A.J. is such a significant part of that, we couldn't have this race without him being part of it for our fans and for each of our drivers! We're excited to have him salute the men and woman who will write our next chapter."

Foyt, born in 1935 in Houston, Texas, started his professional racing career in USAC midget car competition before racing in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in 1958. In 1961, he won his first Indy 500 in the No. 1 Bowes Seal Fast/Bignotti Trevis/Offy. Three years later, in 1964, he was a champion again.

Three years after that, in 1967, Foyt won again and this time in a rear-engined car, becoming the first and only man to win at Indy in both front- and rear-engine race cars. A decade later, in 1977, he became the first four-time winner, in the iconic No. 14 Coyote that he owned.

During his driving career, "Super Tex" also won the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a resume claimed by no other driver. He was named co-driver of the 20th century by the Associated Press, one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers and he has been inducted into every major motorsports Hall of Fame.

Foyt also won the Indy 500 as a car owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack. This year, AJ Foyt Racing has three entries in the race, driven by Takuma Sato, Jack Hawksworth and Alex Tagliani.

The legend has always said that the Indianapolis 500 made A.J. Foyt, not the other way around. On Sunday, he'll salute the person who will become the next legend of the Indianapolis 500 - the winner of the 100th Running.

Carb Day Report

INDIANAPOLIS May 27, 2016-Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is when the 33-car starting field has the chance to sort out their cars in race trim. With temperatures closer to what they will be on race day it was a good opportunity for teams to check the cars’ balance and how they perform in traffic during the one hour session.

Alex Tagliani was the happiest in the AJ Foyt Racing stable as it appeared he could put his No. 35 Alfe Heat Treating Honda anywhere he wanted on the track. Tagliani, who had a tough qualifying session, will start 33rd in the 500 but he is confident after today’s session.

“I’m super happy and super thankful for all of the guys, and their hard work,” said the ebullient Frenc-Canadian driver, who was 19th quick with a top speed of 223.133mph. “They kept pounding at it and we had a mission. We wanted to be in the Top 10, we felt we had a car to be there. No one threw in the towel and they built a really good, solid car for the race. The timing is perfect. Everybody is pumped; everybody saw how competitive we were. We were aggressive out there [in final practice], so it’s going to be good to sleep, but at the same time I’m really excited for the race. The car was solid, predictable, and on the safe side. For the way we ran, it’s really positive.”

Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth? Not so much. However both drivers liked their cars last Monday and will be looking at the differences to find the sweet spots that were missing in today’s practice.

“The conditions were a bit different, the wind direction was different and it was a warmer temperature which is good because we expect to have a warmer race on Sunday,” Sato said after turning a fast lap of 223.433mph. “We need to work on the car a little bit—it washes out and was a bit unstable in traffic – I’m a little nervous about that. We need to understand where that came from but I’m confident we can go back to where we were. I think that’s the way to go. We got some good data to confirm a few things but still we need to check with the other two cars.”

Hawksworth too was more comfortable in his No. 41 ABC Supply Honda on Monday but believes the team will be able to find the combination for race day. He was 24th quick with a speed of 222.444mph.

“It was an interesting session,” said the 25-year-old Brit who will starts 31st Sunday. “The car was not as strong as it was on Monday. I was very happy with it on Monday in terms of balance. I think we need to take a step back to look at why it changed and go back to that happy place. I wasn’t able to follow closely to cars as I was able to on Monday. We’ll need to go back and look at that and go onto Sunday.”

Tony Kanaan set the pace with a lap of 226.280 mph. Carlos Munoz (224.77), Scott Dixon (224.60), Will Power (224.38) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.32) rounded out the top five.

The next time the cars will fire up will be the start of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. The race will be broadcast live on ABC-TV with the hour-long pre-race show starting at 11 a.m.

 

Track Report: May 23

INDIANAPOLIS May 23, 2016 --The last practice prior to Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway proved eventful yet productive at times for the 14, 35, and 41 teams of A.J. Foyt Racing.

After a satisfactory qualification day for the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, Takuma Sato reported he was able to test out his car in traffic for the first time today, and feels confident looking ahead to this weekend’s race. He logged 85 laps and posted a speed of 224.6mph which was 16th fastest.

“I think it was a productive day,” said Sato. “I was able to learn about the car in traffic finally for the first time because we never had the opportunity to run in traffic on practice days because we had so much going on. We tried a few test items, some worked pretty good, some didn’t so I think we found a good baseline for the race. We’ll go through the data over the next couple days because we still need to try a few things on Carb Day, but I think we are in a good position now.”

The No. 35 Alfe Heat Treating crew worked extremely hard to ready Alex Tagliani’s backup car for Sunday’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 after yesterday’s qualification accident, and was able to get the car back on track prior to the end of today’s practice. With Friday’s Carb Day, Tagliani hopes to really test the car and make necessary adjustments in preparation for this weekend’s race.

“We made a few runs today, with big thanks to the crew for working hard to put the car back on track,” Tagliani said. “I’m sure it was a lot of work for them. I guess our Carb Day will become very important to us, and hopefully we have a good race.”

Unfortunately for Jack Hawksworth, driver of the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda, his woes for this year’s race continued during practice, losing the engine to failure late in today’s session. He logged 39 laps and posted a top speed of 223.1mph.

“We’ve had our fair share of setbacks these past two weeks,” said Hawksworth. “This is the cherry on top of the cake. We’ll obviously have to change the engine. I was pretty happy with the car today. Now we need to get miles on the new engine on Carb Day. That’s important to break it in before Sunday. Then we reset and go to the Indy 500.”

The cars of A.J. Foyt Racing return to the Brickyard Friday, May 27 for Carb Day, with final IndyCar practice from 11:00am to 12:00pm ET. Additionally, the teams will participate in the Tag Heuer Pit Stop Competition beginning at 1:30pm ET. Action from the track can be seen on NBCSN from 11:00am to 3:30pm ET.