An abundance of energy and positivity is building within A.J. Foyt Racing. Both stem from an increase in speed and competitiveness that emerged late in the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series championship, and has remained as the team continues its pre-season testing program with Sebastien Bourdais and Dalton Kellett.
There’s no guarantee the four-time Indy 500 winner’s team will run up front throughout the 17 races on the 2021 calendar, but it’s hard to ignore the pace and promise that’s been on display in recent months.
“Well, it definitely feels that way,” team president Larry Foyt told RACER after Bourdais posted the second-fastest lap during Tuesday’s test in Alabama. “Obviously, it is only testing, and with the last race last year at St. Petersburg, we know Seb definitely knows how to get around there, but still, I think it showed the potential that’s there. That gave us some great momentum going to the off-season.”
Constant retooling of the Foyt team’s engineering group has played a big part in turning around the program.
“We’ve been working on a lot of engineering projects that just take a few years to get all of the results you’re looking for,” Foyt said. “I think with some of that stuff, we’re finally really getting a handle on all of it. This engineering group we have together is working really well. It’s just a good group that’s all pulling in the same direction. Sometimes you don’t have that as you put groups together, but the group we have right now, that’s really working in that way.
“I think Seb’s new engineer Justin Taylor has been a great addition, and it’s let Mike Colliver step back and just take universal look at the whole group. Mike Pawlowski has a ton of experience, and working with a young guy like Dalton, I think is a great spot for him. Even though we’re a small team, we have invested quite a bit in our engineering group. We have two race engineers, a technical director, then we’ve got two to three assistant engineers and two data engineers. We’re carrying, for us, a big engineering group, but it’s all working together right now. Again, it is only testing, but it’s still very real in the sense of we’re not out there doing qualifying runs and trying to set fast time for the sake of show.”
From St. Petersburg where Bourdais finished fourth to front-running test outings at Sebring and Barber, the team has also given its current and future sponsors plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about the upcoming season.
“Seb and I had joked at Barber, because it was late in the day, and I said, ‘Hey, why don’t you go ahead and use push to pass… that sidepod’s still blank. We could get out of here in P1!’” Foyt said. “Seb, he laughed. He said, ‘I thought you were flush, boss?’ We had a good laugh about it. Kidding aside, though, you don’t like seeing that blank sidepod, for sure. Obviously, everything hit at a terrible time with the pandemic as our ABC Supply deal was winding down. That didn’t do any good for anybody, but we’re certainly hopeful that we’re going to have some good runs, and hopefully get some attention.
“We’ve got some great associate sponsors and some friends that’ll be primary for a while to help us get through this, to help us keep Seb, and keep all these engineers. We’ll have some announcements about that coming, but we are definitely trying to sell some more primary sponsorships. We’re certainly hopeful that good performance will help in that area.”