Verizon IndyCar Series team AJ Foyt Racing announced on Thursday that they have signed Indy Lights driver, Brazilian Matheus Leist to drive the No.4 ABC Supply Chevrolet alongside his fellow Brazilian and Verizon IndyCar Series veteran Tony Kanaan who will drive the No.14 ABC Supply Chevrolet.
Speaking about the announce, AJ Foyt commented by saying:
I wanted a fresh start for 2018. I think the combination of an experienced driver like Tony and a hungry young driver like Matt [Foyt’s nickname for Leist] will work. I watched him in the Indy Lights this year and he won at Indy [the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race]. I know he’s got a lot to learn but I think he’s going to learn very quick and I think he’ll be very good in the Indy cars.
Leist, who, at 19 is the youngest full-time driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series commented on the news by saying:
This is a special moment in my career and I’m so grateful for the things that are happening. “Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that I’ll be driving for the legend A.J. Foyt. Having Tony Kanaan as my teammate is incredible because he’s been an idol for me since I was a child. Tony and I are from different generations but I can’t wait to be with him at the track and learn as much as I can from him. It will be a pleasure.
Leist is being paired with Tony Kanaan, who is heading into his 21st full-time season competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series so he will have plenty of experience to draw on with Kanaan by his side however with the new aero kit being introduced next season they will both be starting fresh.
Speaking about the arrival of Leist to the team, Kanaan, who himself recently joined Foyt from Chip Ganassi Racing commented by saying:
I’m happy to welcome Matheus as a teammate to Foyt and the ABC Racing family. “Matheus is an extremely talented driver with a bright future ahead of him. I’m looking forward to working together and help get AJ Foyt Racing to the next level.
Leist went on to say:
I’ve been racing for eleven years so far, and since I started in 2006, my brother and I always dreamed about getting into a top category. “I’m so thankful for the opportunities that I had so far and for the big moments that I lived. Every day I keep telling myself that I couldn’t have made a better decision than to come to the USA at the end of 2016. America is where things happen and where the good drivers have a proper place. The IndyCar Series is one of the best categories in the world and has the most important race in the world. The championship is amazing with its combination of road courses, street courses and ovals. It’s a series where all the teams are capable of doing a great job. I’ve dreamed about racing in this series and I can’t wait for this dream to come true.
AJ Foyt Racing team president, Larry Foyt commented by saying:
We had to make some tough decisions but we made them with a focus on strengthening the overall program. We are positioning ourselves to be contenders next season. The added testing and development we are undergoing, combined with the new aero kit for all of the competition should help our overall competitiveness and consistency. We think Matheus is going to be a really good fit with Tony Kanaan because Matheus has a lot of talent and he is going to learn a lot from Tony.
Kanaan will conduct a manufacturer test of the new aero kit next month at Sebring International Raceway while Leist will get his first run in the new car in January.