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.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.