WALLER, Texas – It has been Larry Foyt’s longtime goal to expand A.J. Foyt Racing’s Verizon IndyCar Series presence to two full-time entries, and with impeccable timing primary sponsor ABC Supply Co. Inc. has stepped up to make it a reality.
The team director was joined by his father, team owner and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, and ABC Supply Co. vice president of operations Mike Jost at the team’s headquarters for multiple major announcements:
** Jack Hawksworth, the 2014 Tony Renna Rising Star Award winner, will drive the team’s No. 41 car in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
** ABC Supply has extended its commitment to A.J. Foyt Racing through the 2016 season, which includes the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. 2015 marks 10 years of ABC Supply support of the team.
** Takuma Sato, a two-time Verizon P1 Award winner this past season and race winner for the team, will return for a third year in the No 14 car with Don Halliday as his chief engineer.
** Raul Prados, who has studied under Halliday the past three years and debuted as chief engineer for the No. 41 car driven by Martin Plowman in two races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, will be Hawksworth’s engineer.
** Both entries will continue to utilize Honda engines and incorporate the Honda aerodynamic body kits that will debut at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in late March.
Click it: Watch announcement highlights || Jack Hawksworth the "right driver for job"
Consistency will mingle with freshness at the outset, which stokes the competitive fires of both Foyts. It will be the first time since 2002 that the team has two full-season entries.
"We really felt that two cars was the next step for us as a race team to be competitive week in and week out. We just presented that to ABC Supply, they agreed with us, saw our vision, wanted to be a part of it,” said Larry Foyt, a former Indy car driver who’s management role has expanded exponentially the past few years. It's hard to express in words how thrilling it is to be expanding our operation. I can't give enough gratitude to ABC Supply for their continued support of the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing program. How quickly 10 years goes by. There have been many ups and downs, but they have stuck with us and helped us grow into a team that will be a force to be reckoned with next year.
“It’s great having the continuity of Takuma Sato and Don Halliday working together for another year. We know Takuma can win on any given weekend in the 14 car. I'm looking forward to putting what we've learned together the last couple of years to good use. As well, having who I feel is a future superstar -- Jack Hawksworth -- join the team gives me twice the reasons to be excited.
“And I can't end without giving a Texas-sized thank you to my dad. At nearly 80 years old, he certainly doesn't need the stress and concerns of a multi-car race team, but he has been supportive and behind me 100 percent. Now we have to put the finishing pieces in place and produce because you know with A.J. only one thing matters -- winning.”
Foyt, who turns 80 in January, shows no signs of slowing down. He eagerly led tours of the facility that is equal parts working race shop and Foyt museum.
“I always said we wouldn’t (run two cars) again unless we had the proper people and support to do it right. We’ve got two drivers who love winning --almost as much as I do--and our sponsor ABC Supply, whose support is only outdone by their loyalty,” he said.
Hawksworth, 23, of Bradford, England, qualified in the top six in three of his first six races in the Honda-powered No. 98 BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian car and posted his best finish of the year –third-- in Houston2.
Click it: Jack Hawkworth's postseason profile
“Ultimately, I want to win races and I feel that this is the place I can do that,” said Hawksworth, who will move to the Houston area. “We’ve got everything in place -- a great sponsor in ABC and good people who build quick cars -- so we have the potential to build something really special. That’s what excites me. It’s a growing project and I want to grow with it, be a part of it and be a part of its success.”
Sato, a former Formula One driver who has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the past five years, welcomed his new teammate and the opportunities of data collection/sharing that a multiple-car team affords.
"The continuity of working with my engineer, Don Halliday, and the same crew gives us a strong momentum in learning and more confidence overall,” he said. “We had some very successful race weekends but we need more improvement. That is just the nature of racing. So as a two-car team, it should boost these things massively. The track time is very limited nowadays but there are always tons of things to try. That will be especially true with the new bodywork that’s coming. To have quality testing and maximized running time to evaluate the car is essential. I am very much looking forward to starting winter testing right away.”
Visit the gallery from Wednesday's press conference below.
October 29th - Jack Hawksworth joins A.J. Foyt Enterprises for 2015