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Jason Anderson rolls into 2020 with an agenda

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When Jason Anderson won the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross championship it may have come as a bit of a surprise to some. Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villapoto had won the previous eight titles and no one knew who would replace them.

Anderson’s best of three seasons in the 450 class was third in 2016. In 2017 he finished a distant fourth – 86 points behind Dungey and 81 behind Eli Tomac. Anderson may have been the only person entering the 2018 season who believed he could win and that is precisely what he did in Week 2 in Houston. Anderson followed that up with three more wins at Oakland, San Diego and Atlanta. All of these were early in the season.

After finishing seventh at Daytona in Week 10, Anderson would not win another overall race, but four podiums and a fifth in the final events was the consistency he needed to win.

Given the streaks put together by champions in the previous eight years, all eyes were on Anderson in 2019. Barely three weeks into the season, Anderson was injured in a practice crash and missed the remainder of the schedule.

“If you get hurt and miss one weekend, your season is pretty much over,” Anderson said at this year’s Supercross Media Sessions. “You can’t get hurt and you have to make it through all healthy. Ready to battle every weekend.”

With Anderson out of the way, another dark horse took his place in 2019 as Cooper Webb won his first 450 race early in the season and held the advantage until the end.

Now, no one knows who will win in 2020.

“You don’t really know who is going to win this year, so it’s going to be interesting,” Anderson said. “There are a lot of good guys that can win and that’s the biggest thing going into this year. It just shows how close everyone is. It’s going to be that way for a little bit because everyone is really hungry to win.”

After missing 14 Supercross races last year and failing to win in the outdoor Motocross season, Anderson will be as hungry as anyone entering Anaheim 1. This is Anderson’s chance to prove that his 2018 championship was not a fluke and that he can take his place alongside Dungey and Villopoto – a chance that was denied him last year.

“I’m just going out there and trying to do my best every weekend and that’s all you can really ask of yourself,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to make it as simple as possible while trying to perform at the top level. … Just go racing, enjoy myself and have a good time”

To give himself the best opportunity to win, Anderson has to stay loose.

“You can try to strategize (about the season) but it never goes to plan,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to take the curve balls as they come and try to make sure you’re ready every time the gate drops, every Saturday night. … I’m a decade into my career so I’m honestly just doing things similar to what I’ve done in the past. Trying to fine tune some things, but nothing too crazy. I just kind of go with the flow and see how it rolls.”

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Charlie Kimball joins A.J. Foyt Racing; Tony Kanaan expected back

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A.J. Foyt has hired Charlie Kimball to drive its No. 4 Chevrolet in the 2020 NTT IndyCar season.

Kimball will return to a full-time schedule after seven races last season with Carlin Racing. This will mark his 10th consecutive season of driving in IndyCar. In 141 starts, he has one victory (in 2013 at Mid-Ohio).

“I wouldn’t have survived another partial schedule, and I’m not sure my marriage would have survived,” Kimball said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. “It was really tough watching in races when I wasn’t in the car. The consistency allows me to stay in the rhythm.”

A.J. Foyt Racing fielded cars last year for Matheus Leist in the No. 4 and Tony Kanaan in the No. 14. Team president Larry Foyt told reporters that the No. 14 car’s 2020 schedule was “a work in progress and hopefully have some news on that in the next few weeks.”

Asked if Kanaan, who has driven for Foyt since 2018, still will be with the team, Foyt said, “I’m sure he will. We’ve been working together and getting everything buttoned up.”

Here’s the full release from A.J. Foyt Racing:

Veteran IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball joins AJ Foyt Racing as the full-time driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet with backing from his long-time sponsor Novo Nordisk. The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season marks Kimball’s 10th consecutive season in IndyCar and his 12th season of partnership with the global healthcare company.

Kimball, who ran a partial season of seven races in 2019, returns as a full-time driver in the 17-race NTT IndyCar Series this year. The No. 4 car will carry a Novo Nordisk branded livery in the following races: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, GMR Grand Prix (Indianapolis), Texas Indy 600 (Ft. Worth), Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway (Madison, Ill.) and the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Novo Nordisk will be an associate marketing partner in the remaining 11 races.

“I’m excited and honored to join AJ Foyt Racing and be a part of a team that has such deep roots in history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar,” said Kimball, who lives in Indianapolis. “Continuing the partnership with Novo Nordisk is also special since they have been an integral part of my career since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I’m more motivated than ever to work with the team to succeed at every IndyCar race in 2020. Thank you to AJ Foyt Racing, Novo Nordisk and our other partners for this opportunity.”

Team President Larry Foyt expects the partnership with Novo Nordisk and the addition of Charlie Kimball, an IndyCar Series race winner at Mid-Ohio (2013) and a pole winner at Texas Motor Speedway (2017), to invigorate his No. 4 Texas-based team this season.

“Charlie brings a great deal of experience and skill to the team,” Foyt said. “He is motivated to show what he can do behind the wheel, and his recent experience of helping develop cars will be beneficial as we work to get the 4 car moving up the grid. Novo Nordisk has been a long-time supporter of Charlie and IndyCar. We want to welcome them to AJ Foyt Racing and we look forward to joining them in their effort to increase the awareness of diabetes.”

Kimball has posted six podium (top-3) finishes, and an additional eight top-5s. He has finished in the top-10 (6th through 10th) 41 times and has led 163 laps in 141 races.

“We are proud to continue our long-term partnership with Charlie Kimball and look forward to an exciting 2020 IndyCar season with the legendary AJ Foyt Racing,” said Brian Hilberdink, Senior Vice President, Commercial Diabetes at Novo Nordisk. “For more than a decade, we’ve utilized our involvement in IndyCar to share Charlie’s inspiring journey living with diabetes through the Race with Insulin initiative. Charlie is one of the most active ambassadors in the diabetes community and his passion and commitment to making a difference in the lives of those who are living with diabetes is unwavering. We look forward to continuing this tradition with AJ Foyt Racing, Charlie and the diabetes community throughout the IndyCar season.”

Foyt expects to make further announcements regarding new primary sponsors for the team in the near future.