A.J. Foyt Waves Green at Rolex 24;
ABC Supply Team Tests Updated Honda Aero Kit at Sebring
A.J. Foyt returned to action this past weekend to wave the green flag at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Jan. 30. It was his first time back at a race track since Iowa Speedway in July. Foyt, 81, was the honorary starter for the sports car race which he won in 1983 and 1985.
“It was a lot of fun being back at Daytona and seeing some old friends,” said Foyt, who was visibly impressed with the first-of-its-kind motorsports stadium. “Joie [Chitwood president of DIS] and his staff have done an incredible job here. I think Mr. France and Bill, Jr. would be very proud of what Daytona has become.”
Foyt then traveled to Sebring International Raceway Monday morning to see his ABC Supply Racing Hondas take to the track for the first time equipped with the updated Honda aero kit package.
Veteran driver Takuma Sato was pleased with the drivability of the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda.
“It was nice to be back in the car after a long off-season,” said Sato. “There was a lot to cover at our first test and generally the day went well despite losing some track time due to an electrical issue. It was particularly interesting since it was our first time testing the new Honda aero kit. It shows very positive signs and I was very comfortable with it. Also I now work with Raul Prados as my race engineer; he was my assistant engineer in 2013 and 2014, and the day with him went really well. We have a lot to learn with the 2016 spec car but the team made good progress. They did great preparation over the winter so I feel very positive about the rest of the pre-season tests.”
Teammate Jack Hawksworth thought the test was productive on many levels.
"It felt great to be back in the car again after such a long break and the weather conditions were great which allowed us the opportunity to have a productive day,” said Hawksworth, who turns 25 on February 28th. “There has been a big restructuring in the team over the winter so it was also very useful to see how the new people and structure was going to work.
“We had a big list of test items to get through on the ABC Supply Hondas, and despite some early morning teething issues, we were able to try a lot of things on both cars, aerodynamically and mechanically,” he continued. “I think we made some decent progress and we now have a good foundation to build on heading into the next pre-season test. There's a lot of work to be done still across the board but it certainly feels like we are now heading in the right direction, and that is certainly exciting."
The test gave drivers the opportunity to work in a racing environment with Team Director George Klotz who joined the team last fall. The engineering staff was enlarged and personnel were moved around due to new hires. This year, Prados, who was chief engineer on Hawksworth’s car in 2015, moves to Sato’s car. Dan Hobbs, who worked most recently at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, joined the team in the off season and will be the chief engineer on Hawksworth’s car. Don Halliday returns for a fifth season but now in the role as Technical Director overseeing both engineers. Halliday was not at the test due to a family wedding.
"It was a good first test for the team,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “The engineers have worked very hard over the winter to come up with ideas to try to gain speed, and it was encouraging to see the results on track. Things are picking up quickly, and we will be almost non-stop right up to our first race in St. Petersburg. I'm excited to do more testing and see where we stack up compared to the competition."
In addition to two more private tests, and several shaker rig tests, the team will be at the Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway Feb. 26-27. The Verizon IndyCar Series kicks off their season with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 13.