AJ Foyt Racing Team President Larry Foyt says that the outfit is really excited about their expansion to a four-car effort for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge which takes place on Sunday 30th May.
Foyt has added Charlie Kimball in the No.11 Tresiba Chevrolet and JR Hildebrand in the No.1 ABC Supply Chevrolet alongside full-time drivers Sebastien Bourdais in the No.14 ROKiT Chevrolet and Dalton Kellett in the No.4 K-Line Insulators Chevrolet.
Speaking to Paddock Eye during a conference call on Thursday, Foyt said that due to the limited running at the Speedway in the buildup to the 500 there is a benefit to having four cars in the field. Foyt said:
Yeah, no, it is important. I think it is good because even though it feels like we have a lot of time, run 12 to 6 every day there getting ready. But it always seems to go quickly. You just kind of know you’re going to lose a day or two probably because of weather where we get a little rain or it’s a windy day. I think we’ll be able to run through a lot of things. We’re really excited.
I think everyone knows JR is a pretty technical driver. That’s going to bring another good addition to the team. Obviously with Bourdais, he’s pretty technical. Dalton did a great job last year, but he’s coming into his second 500. Charlie has a lot of experience, we know he’s technical.
I think it’s going to be a really good group. As JR kind of alluded to, with everything so close right now, so competitive, this little bit of setup stuff from qualifying day is going to be super important. You’re really hoping you’re not a part of any of the drama on qualifying weekend unless it’s for that Fast Nine. That’s certainly the goal.
Everything is going to have to be perfect. You just got to hit everything right on the number because there are going to be some good cars going home. Pretty much everyone that’s entered is very, very good. It’s going to be tough. We know that. This is a great addition to bring some more technical information to the team.
JR Hildebrand has joined AJ Foyt Racing for the Indianapolis 500 and will be driving a retro livery to celebrate 60 years since AJ Foyt won his first of four Indianapolis 500’s. AJ took his first victory on May 30, 1961, and ironically the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge takes place on, yes, you guessed it, Sunday 30 May 2021.
Speaking to Paddock Eye about his excitement on joining AJ Foyt Racing for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, Hildebrand who finished the 2011 Indy 500 in second place as a rookie commented saying:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’m definitely looking to feed off a little bit of that energy from our livery. Being around A.J., I was out at the test day, the two-day test a couple weeks ago now, spent a little bit of time with super tech. That was fun.
The Speedway is one of those places that as much as it changes, as much as the car changes, it’s the type of thing for having guys around who have either been in or watched 50 of these things now, whatever, A.J. obviously it’s been 60 years, 60th anniversary of his first win, every little bit counts.
It’s funny, back when I was racing for Ed, my first couple years when I was just part-time racing for him, I had Tony George on my timing stand, he was the one on my radio over that period of time. It was kind of like weird little things that, despite the fact that might not normally have been his positioning, or he’s not around it in that capacity all the time, at the Speedway there’s little stuff that kind of rubs off on you over time.
Obviously, like Larry mentioned, these days it’s so much just about how much can you extract out of the car, where are you at in qualifying trim, how much grip can you build into it, can we go into race day confident that we have a car that you could have a bad pit stop and make up a few of those spots on track.
As a driver, that’s all you hope for because it gives you, I guess, just that confidence throughout the race, that kind of anything can happen, it can get put back in your hands and you can fire your way back up to the front. That’s what we’ll be working on and spending our time on once we get to the track.
So I guess to close the thought, just back to the idea that we’ve got a lot of high-caliber talent on the team is exciting to be a part of from that perspective. I feel like we can show up and maybe have the cars not be where we want them on the first day of practice, and work our way out of that towards the window that we want if we’re all smart about what we’re looking for, how we’re chasing that, how we communicate over the course of those first few days in particular.
Racing is kind of in a way, it’s about learning and problem solving. That to me has always been kind of a fun part of what we do at the track. Even if it’s hard when we first roll out, I’m certainly looking forward to that challenge, facing it head on once we get there.