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A.J. Foyt Racing confirms Tony Kanaan for 2018

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Tony Kanaan’s immediate future in the Verizon IndyCar Series, which has been in a state of flux most of the summer, was settled earlier today with A.J. Foyt Racing confirming that the 42-year-old Kanaan will be joining the team as a driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Chevrolet.

The official confirmation came at an event at the Foyt Wine Vault in downtown Speedway, Ind. Kanaan tweeted the picture, along with longtime engineer Eric Cowdin who is also making the move, below. Cowdin will be both Kanaan’s race engineer and the team technical director.

Additionally, long-time partner ABC Supply Co. has extended its contract in a new multi-year deal. And for the first time since 1966, the No. 14 car will be operated out of a location other than Texas as it will move to Foyt’s Indianapolis race shop. The No. 4 car will now be based in the Waller, Texas race shop. There has been no decision made on the driver of the No. 4 car.

“We’ve talked to Tony for the last couple of years and I’m just glad we were able to put something together because I know he wants to win as bad as we do,” A.J. Foyt said. “I think he still has two or three good years in him. He’s always been a hard charger and I like somebody who wants to charge hard.”

Kanaan added, “I just thought it was a great opportunity for me to build something where we can make history, and for me that’s what racing’s all about,” said Kanaan, who signed a multi-year contract to drive for Foyt. “Yes it is about the wins, but it’s also about the people, the people that you’re associated with. We’re going to make some history.”

Kanaan contested the previous four years with Chip Ganassi Racing in its No. 10 entry, but rumors of an uncertain future persisted throughout the 2017 IndyCar season, with he and the team even appearing to be at odds after he was parked during the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline at Gateway Motorsports Park in August.

A.J. Foyt Racing, too, struggled in 2017, as they adapted the Chevrolet engines and aero kits after being a Honda team since 2012.

However, stronger results beckoned in the second half of the season, with Conor scoring three top tens in the final five races (including a fifth-place finish at Gateway, the team’s best of the year) with teammate Carlos Munoz scoring three consecutive top tens at Pocono, Gateway, and Watkins Glen in the second half of the year.

Kanaan will pilot the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet in 2018. Photo: IndyCar. Photo: IndyCar

Tony DiZinno contributed to this report 

GAINSCO partners with JDC-Miller for Simpson, Goikhberg

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The bright yellow No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, nicknamed the “JDC Banana Boat,” will morph into the latest incarnation of the bright red “Red Dragon” for 2018.

The now GAINSCO Auto Insurance-backed No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson will run the full 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and the new livery will be revealed at the Roar before the Rolex 24.

GAINSCO revealed last month it wouldn’t run its own team, having partnered with Bob Stallings Racing for more than a decade with great success in GRAND-AM Rolex Series competition. But it was still going to partner with a team and received multiple proposals from other teams. The initial deal with JDC-Miller Motorsports is one year for 2018 with an option for 2019, but both parties envision this growing into a multi-year deal.

The last few years the team has run only on-and-off, with a one-off appearance in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona as Alex Gurney scored pole, but a devastating accident for Memo Gidley having left him seriously injured. Gidley has made significant strides in his recovery.

Since that point, GAINSCO/BSR moved into Pirelli World Challenge, running first a Hyundai Genesis, then a McLaren 650S GT3, and then a Porsche 911 GT3 R with Gurney’s longtime co-driver Jon Fogarty. The same level of success was hard to find and while the team scored several podium finishes, wins eluded them over two years.

Alas, this provides John Church’s quality operation a major supporter both from visibility and agent standpoints, as GAINSCO is one of the biggest at-track activators in the sport. Primary drivers Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg continue for the full season with Chris Miller the third driver for Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds.

A fourth driver will be named later (likely within the next week to 10 days), but won’t be Jon Fogarty, as Bob Stallings offered him the opportunity but Fogarty declined owing to other business commitments.

“We offered Jon Fogarty the opportunity, took a couple days (to think), he couldn’t feature anyone else driving but him… he has successful business ventures and that takes priority at this time,” Stallings said.

Church and Stallings. Photo courtesy of GAINSCO Racing

Stallings, Executive Chairman of GAINSCO, as well as the founder of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Race team, recently decided not to run his own race team, but is committed to continuing the legacy of the Red Dragon by partnering with an organization capable of a long-term winning program.

“We had many opportunities to continue our quest for championships and JDC-Miller MotorSports was an easy pick,” said Stallings of the Minnesota-based team. “John Church and John Miller have established themselves as a team to be reckoned with, even against the formidable competition in IMSA.”

“We are very honored to gain the support of GAINSCO Auto Insurance and to carry on the livery of the No. 99 Red Dragon,” Church added. “It was immediately evident that the GAINSCO folks are as committed as we are.  This is a tremendous opportunity for JDC-Miller MotorSports and we look forward to the season ahead.”

Andy Jordan, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Business Development led the search for the GAINSCO’s 2018 racing partnership.

“We were amazed and flattered by the amount of interest we received from teams who felt their racing programs would be elevated by an opportunity to partner with us and run the famous “Red Dragon” livery.  There were several important considerations for GAINSCO; the team had to compete at the highest level, and it had to feel like the kind of family we could be a part of and believe in.

“JDC-Miller Motorsports was the team we kept coming back to.  They race prototypes, they are great people, they are committed to win and the parallels between JDC-Miller Motorsports today and GAINCSO/Bob Stallings Racing in 2006/2007 were abundant.  I couldn’t be prouder and more excited to join John and his team for the 2018 season and hopefully beyond.”

JDC-Miller is adding a second car this season, with Simon Trummer its first confirmed driver and Robert Alon having tested with the team at Daytona earlier this month. This car will maintain the “banana boat” livery and will announce the rest of its program later.

Church said there “hasn’t been a discussion” in terms of adding Bob Stallings Racing personnel to JDC-Miller’s lineup as it sits, but it could be integrated.

The JDC-Miller Oreca 07. Photo courtesy of IMSA