The historic weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on America’s most historic weekend of the year holds a few “first times” for the motorsports community and, in particular, AJ Foyt Racing.
First of First Times: The NTT INDYCAR Series and NASCAR Cup Series race at the same track on the same weekend. New track owner Roger Penske and his team worked with NASCAR officials to reschedule the GMR Grand Prix when it had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A.J. Foyt: “I think having INDYCAR and NASCAR run on the same weekend could be a benefit to both series. I think it might draw some INDYCAR fans to NASCAR and NASCAR fans to INDYCAR.”
Larry Foyt: “Great opportunity for race fans to have INDYCAR and NASCAR together. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, race fans can’t see them together up close, but it should still be a great weekend of racing on NBC-TV. Fantastic job by Roger Penske, INDYCAR and NASCAR to make this happen, and hopefully this is just the beginning of more crossover events for fans and our teams. We have had a great deal of history in NASCAR and I’m looking forward to sharing the track with them this weekend.”
Note: Larry and A.J. are two of 18 race drivers who have competed in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400. And they are the only two drivers who are related to have done so. A.J., the 1972 Daytona 500 winner, competed in the inaugural race at the Brickyard in 1994 after retiring at the Speedway from driving Indy cars in 1993.
First Time A.J. Foyt will miss the GMR Grand Prix at Indy:
Foyt chose to stay home this weekend and will watch the GP at home. Foyt plans to make the Indy 500 the first race he will attend this year.
First Time a race at Indy is held without fans: The races during the “Crossover” weekend will be limited to essential personnel only. However, the Indianapolis 500 is planned to run with a 50% attendance limit to maintain social distancing in the grandstands.
First time Charlie Kimball competes for Foyt Racing on a road course: Kimball, who ran a part-time schedule last year, and did not compete in the 2019 GP at Indy, returns to full-time status this year in the No. 4 Chevrolet which will carry the Tresiba livery this weekend.
Charlie Kimball: “While the GMR Grand Prix usually kicks off the Month of May, this year’s race is just as exciting as INDYCAR and NASCAR come together to celebrate the July 4th weekend with a historic doubleheader. I’ve had great results on the IMS road course in the past and can’t wait to get on track for my first road course in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing! The opportunity to race for A.J. is always special – it means even more when it’s at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!”
In five Indy GP starts, Kimball has finished fifth three times (2014 – 2016) and started on the front row (2nd) in 2016 for his best start in the race. Kimball’s career totals to date are 142 starts with one win (2013 Mid-Ohio); one pole (2017 Texas), six podiums, 14 top-5s and 57 top-10s. He has led 163 laps to date.
First Time Dalton Kellett will compete in an INDYCAR race: Kellett makes his NTT INDYCAR Series debut this weekend in the No. 14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet. He is one of four rookies competing in the race. Kellett’s initial test with A.J. Foyt Racing at the Circuit of the Americas was hampered by inclement weather resulting in just 20 laps on a day that was split with No. 14 teammate Sebastien Bourdais. Kellett did get one full day of testing at Sebring Raceway in early March. However, Kellett is familiar with the road course at IMS having run four doubleheaders there in his Indy Lights career where his best finish was sixth (2018).
Kellett gives feedback to race engineer Mike Colliver as co-race engineer Daniele Cucchiaroni looks on. Assistant engineer Alex Diaz (forefront) focuses on data.
Dalton Kellett: “I’m excited to get my season underway at the GMR Grand Prix. I couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to make my debut in the K-Line Insulators USA No. 14 Chevrolet! With the long delay to the start of my season, it will be important to maximize all available track time. Especially given the condensed schedule. As a rookie, I expect there to be obstacles to overcome and new challenges to face. I am confident in the team we have put together to take these on. The goal is to perform well and learn the most that I can in my rookie event.”
A.J. Foyt was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Rose Mattioli on June 29th at the age of 92. She and her husband Doc Mattioli built and owned Pocono Raceway where A.J. Foyt holds the record for most INDYCAR victories with four in 18 starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
A.J. Foyt: “I’m really sad to hear about Dr. Rose Mattioli. She and Doc [Mattioli] were great friends with Mother and Daddy and they were always great to me when I came up there. It’s been a couple years since I saw her at Pocono , but we had fun catching up. It’s hard to lose friends like that because you don’t have that many good friends in a lifetime.”
The GMR Grand Prix will be broadcast live on NBC on Saturday, July 4th starting at 12 noon ET. Qualifying will be broadcast on NBCSN Friday at 4:30 pm ET. The preceding 90-minute practice on Friday can be viewed on Indycar.com and the INDYCAR mobile app. The race will be broadcast on these radio affiliates: Sirius 211 and XM 205.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!