While A.J. Foyt shows poise and age, his driver line-up is full of youth and promise.
“Both of our drivers are very young, and they’ve got their whole future ahead of them,” team owner A.J. Foyt. “I’m looking forward to being a part of that future.”
A.J. Foyt Racing announced on Tuesday that Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly would drive for the organization in 2017.
“It’s been a busy offseason, which to me is a great thing,” Team President Larry Foyt said. “There are many moving parts as we grow and continue to strengthen our weaknesses as a team. It’s wonderful to continue our relationship with ABC Supply and adding two young, and fast drivers is exciting for our program. I can’t remember a time when the Verizon IndyCar Series has been this competitive from top to bottom, so we know we have to work around the clock this winter to meet our goals before the season starts. We’ve had a great deal of changes in a short amount of time, but the team is committed, and the group as a whole is moving in the same direction. I’m looking for this positive momentum to translate to on-track results.”
Munoz will replace Takuma Sato, who has been rumored to join Andretti Autosport, in the No. 41 entry. The 24-year-old is coming off a 10th place finish in the year-end points standings last year with Andretti Autosport in his fourth full season of competition, following a runner-up in the Indianapolis 500. In 53 IndyCar starts, the Key Biscayne, Fla. resident has scored one victory (Detroit), one pole (Texas), and 23 top-10s.
For Munoz, this season will mark the first year he has driven for a team other than Andretti Autosport, which is a change he calls a big step forward in his career.
“I’m glad to join this team,” he said. “It’s been for a long time in IndyCar, and also A.J. is Indy 500 champion. I really honored to be a part of his team. I think it’s a new challenge to my career. It’s also nice to be teammates with Conor Daly. It’s good to have two young, really fast drivers in the team. We want to drive really good; we want to win races. We’re going to work really well together.”
Part of the reason for a change in Munoz was the fact he was tired of bringing money to the table like he did at Andretti in contributing funds from his family, but rather get paid his dues behind the wheel. He said the confidence he could make it work came from the success he was able to put together to date.
“I say, ‘Enough is enough. That was my personal choice,'” Munoz said. “We can do really good stuff. We put all the package together really good. I think we can show results, right? We have a really good example with Ed Carpenter. Five years ago no one was saying anything about this team. Now everyone wants to go to that team, right, because they did a really good job with Josef (Newgarden), with the engineers and everything. I think we have a good example.
“So, you know, finally I see the light in the tunnel. Like I said, I have improved. It’s not like I’m done, completely done. I still have to push a lot to stay in the light of the tunnel. I have to push. I still pushing really hard, to show the teams that I really deserve the position I am right now.”
Daly will replace Jack Hawksworth behind the wheel of the second entry, which will have a noticeable number change, with the No. 41 switched to No. 4 for Daly next season. The number change pays homage to Daly’s step-father Doug Boles, who was a founding partner and co-owner of Panther Racing which previously fielded the No. 4 car. Boles is now president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Notably, the team will be based in Indianapolis while No. 14 team remains in Texas.
“I mean, it’s really cool when Larry told me that we were going to be based in Indianapolis. Obviously, that helps me quite a lot because that’s my hometown. Pretty excited about that,” Daly said. “Then I actually didn’t know we’d be the No. 4 until probably like just a few days ago. That was even cooler just because of the history that we have there with my stepdad Doug, when he was running with Panther Racing, involved there. I grew up watching those guys, Scott Goodyear, Sam Hornish, Tomas Scheckter, as well, then Dan Wheldon.
“It was just a cool number that meant a lot to my family. It was cool to carry on. I have plenty of Pennzoil hats with No. 4 on them from when I was a kid. It’s just going to be cool. It’s just a great relationship, a great opportunity, and then I just can’t wait to get started.”
While it’s odd to have two teams and base them out of two different shops, Daly notes he isn’t worried about a breakdown of conversation due to the level of technology out there to allow for communication, such as a live video conference.
Daly previously drove for Foyt in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 in his IndyCar debut. The 24-year-old is coming off his first full season of IndyCar competition with Dale Coyne Racing, which featured some strong runs highlighted by a second in Detroit. In 22 starts, he has six Top-10 finishes and has led 68 laps.
Daly now looks to take what he learned, and continue to improve as a driver behind the wheel. He notes he’s ready to apply what he learned and do some things differently.
“Last year, the tracks that I had been to before, like Detroit and Toronto, you know, we had two of our best — well, Toronto qualifying and Detroit would have been good qualifying had we not got a penalty. We obviously had a great race weekend in Detroit,” he said. “I want to use that experience at every track that we go to. So just trying to build on it, build on it, and continue to get better. More podiums is obviously the goal.”
The organization also announced long-time sponsor ABC Supply had renewed their contract, marking the 13th consecutive season they’ve sponsored Foyt.
“As we celebrate our 35th anniversary at ABC Supply, we are very happy to be continuing our relationship with AJ Foyt Racing,” said Keith Rozolis, ABC Supply Co. Inc. president and chief executive officer. “They’ve been part of the ABC team since 2005, and our associates and customers look forward to watching Carlos and Conor compete and win in 2017.”
Daly noted he was excited to have the brand onboard with their signature colors, and the fact they have a passion for racing.
“There needs to be more companies like that in the world,” he said. “I’m excited about it. The car is red, white and blue. I bleed red, white and blue. I try to be the most American dude around. I’m excited to kind of use that and just strengthen the relationship. It’s going to be awesome.”
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