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IndyCar 2016 team preview: A.J. Foyt Enterprises

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NBC Sports takes a look through the teams competing in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series. While A.J. Foyt remains and will always be a legend of the sport, his team hasn’t had a legendary year in a while, and may find it tough again to stand out in a deep 2016 field.

Team: A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Engine/aero kits: Honda
Sponsors: ABC Supply Co. (Nos. 14, 41)

2015 STATS

Races: 16
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1 (Sato 1)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 2 (Sato 1, Hawksworth 1)
Points: 606 (Sato 323, Hawksworth 256, Tagliani 27)
Laps Led: 64 (Sato 46, Hawksworth 16, Tagliani 2)
Championship Position: 14th (Sato), 17th (Hawksworth), 37th (Tagliani)

2016 LINEUP (Engineers in parentheses)

14 Takuma Sato (Raul Prados)
41 Jack Hawksworth (Dan Hobbs)

2015 RECAP (Sato, Hawksworth driver recaps)

It was a tough and largely anonymous year for both drivers, as Foyt went back to a two-car team for the first time in more than a decade. Sato bagged a podium in the rain at Detroit race two and was consistent, plus error-free, as he improved from 18th in points in 2014 to 14th last year. Hawksworth didn’t have much to hang his hat on, although there were a couple events where he overachieved thanks to some good strategy calls and recovery drives.

2016 OUTLOOK

Big changes are in store here for the Larry Foyt-led team following a largely anonymous 2015 season. George Klotz, formerly of Andretti Autosport, is installed as team director, and both drivers have new engineers. Raul Prados moves from Hawksworth’s entry to Sato’s, while Dan Hobbs joins Hawksworth’s No. 41 entry from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

We more or less know what Sato is after six full-time seasons, but Hawksworth is a less proven quantity at the IndyCar level after his first two years and must find a way to improve. This is his third engineer in as many seasons, and the hope for 2016 must be that he recaptures his 2014-at-Bryan Herta Autosport with Todd Malloy engineering form rather than his output from last year. It’s hard to see this team scoring more than a handful of podiums and/or cracking the top-10 in points with either driver – not for lack of talent, but just owing to the depth of the overall field.

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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