IndyCar 2017 team preview: A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Two new drivers, new engine and new crew at Foyt. Photo: IndyCar
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MotorSportsTalk looks through the teams competing in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. It’s almost an entirely new A.J. Foyt Enterprises set to compete in 2017.

Drivers (Engineer, Strategist)

4-Conor Daly (Daniele Cucchiarroni, George Klotz)
14-Carlos Munoz (Will Phillips, Larry Foyt)

Manufacturer/aero kit: Chevrolet

Sponsors: ABC Supply Co. (Nos. 4, 14)

What went right in 2016: Not much at all. There were no podiums and only two top-five finishes, while Jack Hawksworth didn’t even crack the top-10 once.

What went wrong in 2016: Quite a bit, and a couple additional chances for big results that Takuma Sato could have pulled off (Indianapolis, Mid-Ohio) went begging.

What’s changed for 2017: Nearly everything but the kitchen sink. Perhaps that, too. With a new engine and aero kits, two new drivers, a new technical director/engineer and the arrival of George Klotz on the strategist box, there’s a little bit of everything that’s different for the team that’s split between Waller, Texas and Speedway, Ind.

What they’ll look to accomplish in 2017: Steady progression and understanding with its new equipment, a couple early top-10 finishes to build momentum, and contending for top-fives and podiums as the year goes on.

MST PREDICTIONS

Tony DiZinno: Foyt’s team wins the “all the individual parts are good but how are they going to mesh as a new unit?” preseason award by a mile. As such, if they can succeed early, it will have spoken to an incredible effort following Larry Foyt’s day-to-day leadership. This is a nice way of saying I don’t expect much at the start, but as they start dialing in setups, I think results will start to come.

Kyle Lavigne: A.J. Foyt Racing has been one of the more perplexing teams in recent history. ABC Supply represents a solid and long-standing partnership that dates back to 2005. They’ve sported some solid driving talent in Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth. Larry Foyt presents himself as a solid team manager.

Yet, they’ve always underachieved, necessitating a complete reset ahead of 2017. Because of that, it may take a while before they get their legs underneath them. A dream season would see one of their drivers get on the podium once, but challenging to finish the top ten in the championship would be more realistic and signify tremendous gains.

Luke Smith: All change for Foyt in 2017. Two new drivers in the form of Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly, a switch back to Chevy power, plus an array of personnel alterations behind the scene is seen as the remedy to a couple of disappointing years.

Daly was my personal rookie of the year in 2017 and a regular spoke in the works for the front-runners with off-piste strategies, and could nab a podium or two. Munoz is of a similar ilk, and has plenty of experience of working with Honda from Andretti. Victory lane remains out of reach, but a marked improvement on 2016 should be the target this year.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III