A.J. Foyt Enterprises has made one of its biggest lineup shifts in its recent history, confirming on Tuesday a youth-oriented lineup of Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly starting with the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Munoz and Daly only have a combined four full-time seasons complete between them. Munoz (2013) and Daly (2013, 2015) also had partial seasons before advancing into IndyCar full-time.
Both drivers switch to Foyt for 2017 from their previous teams. Munoz spent the last three full seasons with Andretti Autosport, winning IndyCar rookie-of-the-year honors in 2014 and having also finished second at the Indianapolis 500 in both 2013 and 2016. Daly finally made it into a full-time ride with Dale Coyne Racing last year after a roller coaster ride to get there, but with the team moving in a different direction to secure Sebastien Bourdais and ultimately Ed Jones in the second car, he had to look for another opportunity.
These two replace Takuma Sato, who’s been with Foyt the last four seasons and is bound for Andretti Autosport, and Jack Hawksworth, who leaves after two seasons for a new Lexus factory ride with the 3GT Racing team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Daly’s number, what would have been 41, switches to 4 while Munoz takes over the flagship No. 14 car. Daly’s car will be based in Speedway, Ind. with Munoz’s No. 14 car still in Texas.
Per the release, the move to Indianapolis of the No. 4 team marks the first time that AJ Foyt Racing will base a team there after Foyt purchased the property on Main Street in October, 2014.
Another first for the team is carrying the number 4 on a full-time entry in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The number 4 has significance for Foyt as he became the first four-time winner of the Indy 500, but it also holds significance for Daly, whose step-father (and Indianapolis Motor Speedway President) Doug Boles was a founding partner and co-owner of Panther Racing which fielded the No. 4 car. Boles served as chief operating officer from 1997 to 2006.
As the team’s engine contract is not yet finalized, Chevrolet was not named in the release, but the team is expected to switch from Honda to Chevrolet. No engineers were named either.
ABC Supply Co., however, has extended its contract with the team for another two years.
“It’s been a busy off season, which to me is a great thing,” team president Larry Foyt said in the release. “There are many moving parts as we grow and continue to strengthen our weaknesses as a team. It’s wonderful to continue our relationship with ABC Supply and adding two young and fast drivers is exciting for our program.
“I can’t remember a time when the Verizon IndyCar Series has been this competitive from top to bottom, so we know we have to work around the clock this winter to meet our goals before the season starts. We’ve had a great deal of changes in a short amount of time, but the team is committed and the group as a whole is moving in the same direction. I’m looking for this positive momentum to translate to on-track results.”