IndyCar: Foyt expands to 2 cars, adds Hawksworth alongside Sato

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A.J. Foyt Enterprises confirmed Wednesday its long-rumored expansion to two full-time cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series, which marks the first time for the team to do so since 2000.

Jack Hawksworth will shift over from one Honda-powered team to the other, and take the reins of the No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda, while Takuma Sato will return to the team for his third season, and sixth overall in IndyCar, in 2015. As he has the last two seasons, he’ll continue in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda.

Additionally, ABC Supply Co. has extended its current contract with the Foyt camp through the 2016 season.

“Running two cars is nothing new for me but it’s been a while,” said the four-time Indianapolis 500 champion in a statement. “I always said we wouldn’t do it again unless we had the proper people and support to do it right.

“We’ve got two drivers who love winning – almost as much as I do – and our sponsor ABC Supply, whose support is only outdone by their loyalty. I’m looking forward to next year being the best one yet.”

Hawksworth was a bit of a revelation in his rookie season at Bryan Herta Autosport in 2014, with several Firestone Fast Six appearances and his first career podium at Houston race two (third).

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Hawksworth said. “Ultimately, I want to win races and I feel that this is the place I can do that. We’ve got everything in place, a great sponsor in ABC, and good people who build quick cars, so we have the potential to build something really special.

“That’s what excites me. It’s a growing project and I want to grow with it, be a part of it and be a part of its success.”

Sato scored two pole positions and a best finish of fourth (Sonoma) in the 2014 season, and finished 18th in points, just one spot behind Hawksworth. It was a season where bad luck frequently got the better of him and prevented him from producing more standout results.

The former F1 pilot acknowledged that “we need more improvement” but feels the expansion to two cars will help in that regard.

“That is just the nature of racing,” he said. “So as a two-car team, it should boost these things massively. The track time is very limited nowadays but there are always tons of things to try. That will be especially true with the new bodywork that’s coming.

“To have quality testing and maximized running time to evaluate the car is essential. I am very much looking forward to starting winter testing right away.”

As for team director Larry Foyt, he touched on the team’s expansion and addition of Hawksworth. The team recently added a new shop in Indianapolis to go along with its long standing one in Houston.

“It’s hard to express in words how thrilling it is to be expanding our operation,” said Foyt. “It has been a goal of mine for years, and to finally see it become reality … All I can say is that it has already been a special and busy offseason. I can’t give enough gratitude to ABC Supply for their continued support of the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing program.

“How quickly 10 years goes by. There have been many ups and downs, but they have stuck with us and helped us grow into a team that will be a force to be reckoned with next year.”

With the partnership between Sato and engineer Don Halliday providing continuity, plus Hawksworth’s commitment to the team (which includes his own move to the Foyt team’s home base in Texas), Larry is naturally optimistic about the team’s chances next IndyCar season.

Soon, it will be time to try and put it all together. The boss won’t stand for anything less.

“Now we have to put the finishing pieces in place and produce because you know with A.J., only one thing matters – winning,” Larry said in closing.

Watch: Top 5 heartbreaks in Indy 500 history (video)

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As we near the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, NBC Sports will be counting down some of the top moments in the race’s illustrious history, right up until May 26.

Today’s countdown features the top five heartbreaks, from J.R. Hildebrand crashing on the final turn in 2011 to hand the win to Dan Wheldon, to Robby Gordon running out of fuel in 1999 and leading to Kenny Brack’s victory.

For more Indy 500 coverage, check out NBC Sports Gold for exclusive coverage, and don’t miss the race on NBC on May 26.