Tagliani confirmed for Alfe Foyt return at Indy 500, plus Indy GP

Photo: Alfe Racing/A.J. Foyt Enterprises
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Add another car to this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil: Alex Tagliani will return for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, in a newly renumbered No. 35 Honda with Alfe Heat Treating the sponsor. Tagliani finished 17th in last year’s race in the No. 48 car.

Meanwhile, both driver and team will get a tune-up with confirmation they’ll also race the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14.

The release is below:

Alfe Heat Treating will sponsor the No. 35 Honda Dallara to be driven by Alex Tagliani in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, a.k.a. the Indy Double.

The number 35 was chosen to honor A.J. Foyt’s record 35 straight starts in the Indianapolis 500—from 1958 through 1992. The car’s livery will evoke memories of the black No. 14 Copenhagen cars that Foyt drove in the latter part of his legendary career.

“We chose the number 35 because it is the number of consecutive starts A.J. had at the Brickyard as well as being A.J.’s birth year, a lucky number,” said Kurt Westman, Founder and CEO of Alfe Heat Treating, Inc.

Tagliani, who competed in the Indy 500 last year in an Alfe Heat Treating-sponsored car and will again this year, will drive in the May 14th Angie’s List Grand Prix for the first time in his career which spans 203 IndyCar races over 16 seasons.

“We are happy to have Alex back as he did a great job for us last year, and we are hopeful for an even better performance this year!” Westman said.

“I feel very privileged and honored to be driving the Alfe Heat Treating Honda,” said Tagliani, who won the pole for the 2011 Indy 500. “Alfe is a great company and I met a lot of good people last year with their headquarters being so close to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’m very excited to be driving for the AJ Foyt Racing organization again. To be driving for them at the Speedway during the month of May is very special. The 100th Running of the Indy 500 will make it even more unique.

Tagliani last raced an IndyCar on the road and street circuits in 2013, when eight of the 14 events he drove in the Verizon IndyCar Series were either in the streets or on a road course.

“I’m looking forward to driving the Indy road course in an IndyCar—I’ve heard a lot of amazing things on the performance of the car,” Tagliani said. “It will be difficult because I haven’t driven an IndyCar on a road course in several years. Jumping in the car on a road course in something that is very new will be tough, but the positive is that I will be in the car for the month of May. Getting used to the guys and working with the team is very important if you want to maximize the performance of the driver, the team and the car. Hopefully we can do a good job for the whole Alfe team and everyone who has been so supportive of me like Sexton Properties and everyone I’ve been involved with at the Speedway over the last two years.”

This year will be the third straight year that Alfe Heat Treating has focused on a design that has meaning beyond the traditional sponsor-centric livery. In the 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the No. 41 car featured the retro-livery in “Foyt Poppy Red” in honor of Foyt’s record-setting Indy 500 victory in 1977. Last year, Dan Gurney’s No. 48 All American Eagle was selected as the design, dark-hued and complete with white racing stripes. Alex Tagliani drove it to a 17th place finish in the 500.

Additionally, Alfe Heat Treating returns for the sixth straight season as an associate sponsor of the team which fields the No. 14 and No. 41 ABC Supply Honda-Dallaras driven by Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth.

“We are very happy to be back with AJ Foyt Racing and we’re looking forward to a competitive 2016 racing season as an associate sponsor to the ABC Supply 14 and 41 cars,” Westman added. “We are glad to have Jack and Takuma back with the team. The Foyt team has been wonderful representatives for the Alfe brand, and we couldn’t be more proud of them!”

“Alfe’s been a great associate sponsor for us,” said Foyt. “We couldn’t work with nicer people and they are always 100 percent behind the team, so I can’t ask for much more than that. It’s great that they want to recognize my 35 starts at Indy by choosing the number 35, and when I see that car looking like some of my old race cars, well that will be pretty special too. I hope the fans get a kick out of it.

“I’m glad to have Alex back in the car– he did a great job last year—he even led the race,” Foyt added. “It was just for a couple laps, but still he led the race. We know he can run fast. Plus I think the crew will be a little more tuned up this year by doing two races instead of one.”

“It is good to have A.J. feeling better and back at the track along with ABC Supply and Alfe Heat Treating—to me, that sounds like a winning combination for AJ Foyt Racing,” concluded Westman.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.