This weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course certainly had A.J. Foyt’s team scratching their heads as they tried to unlock the secrets to this 2.258-mile road course to no avail.
The race started off hopefully enough. Starting 19th in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet, Tony Kanaan climbed to 14th by lap five, a combination of capitalizing on others’ misfortunes in the opening laps and the veteran’s experience here. Soon after, he started reporting understeer. When he pitted on lap 13, the team switched his alternate compound (red-rimmed) Firestone tires for primary compound tires. They put in a turn of front wing to help with the understeer.
He dropped behind his teammate Matheus Leist who pitted a lap later and they settled in at 17th and 18th which is where they ran until the next round of pit stops on laps 38 and 39. A bit of trouble on Leist’s stop dropped the 19-year-old to 20th while his teammate maintained 18th. With one final stop on lap 64, and taking on red tires, both drivers posted their fastest laps of the race in the closing laps but they couldn’t really improve their position. When the checkered flag flew, Kanaan finished 18th and Leist 19th in a race that ran caution-free for 90 laps.
“Tough weekend for the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet,” Kanaan said. “No matter what we changed we couldn’t get a good direction on our setup so it ended up being a survival race. We’re going to regroup this week and analyze what we’re missing in order to make it better. I’m looking forward to going to Pocono in a couple of weeks and putting on a good show for our sponsors.”
Leist was also frustrated with the weekend and acknowledged the team had their work cut out for them. “Today was a tough day,” he said. “We didn’t have the pace the entire race. We just tried to bring home the car, and I did the best that I could. We are still struggling to find the speed on road courses. We will focus on figuring this out for next year and for the rest of the season. We will keep working hard and figuring out how to be quick.”
Starting on pole, Alexander Rossi won the race and was the only driver who committed to a two-stop race, owing to the remarkable fuel mileage he was able to get from his Honda-powered car. Second through fifth were: Robert Wickens, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Scott Dixon, who continued to maintain his lead in the Verizon IndyCar point standings.
Team President Larry Foyt summed up saying, “It was a tough day for us as a team but we’ve got to keep working, keep our heads down and find a direction for the permanent road courses which have definitely been our Achilles heel this year. After the test here, we thought we had found a good direction but once we got to the track on race weekend, it certainly didn’t seem to be the right way to go. For the final two races of the season at Portland and Sonoma, we have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what this car wants on these road courses. For now, it is on to Pocono. We have high hopes and expectations of doing well there.”
The team will be heading to Pocono Raceway August 9th for a private test before the ABC Supply 500 at the 2.5-mile superspeedway on Sunday, Aug. 19th.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!