Louis Foster was a force during the 2022 USF Pro 2000 Championship, scoring seven wins, 12 podiums and five poles in 18 starts en route to claiming the title. With that success comes straightforward expectations entering his first year in INDY NXT by Firestone.
“I would say coming off the back of a championship gives me confidence, but at the same time I am a rookie again; that's how I view it,” said Foster, 19. “I don't come in with the expectation to be winning instantly. That's the aim. I want to be winning races and putting on it pole as soon as possible. That's the purpose. That's why we're here.
“My aim is to win the championship in the first year and then move on to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”
Reaching those goals will undoubtedly be a challenging task as 19 drivers take center stage this weekend in the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg; the largest field to start a season since 2009.
However, the scenario is pretty simple, according to Foster, driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Dallara.
“I think it's the same as most championships in the way that you win the championships not on good days, but on your bad days,” he said.
“Minimizing the bad days, that's why you win championships. Of course, there are more cars in the field, which is amazing for INDY NXT. I'm looking forward to having a full grid. I think it'll be great for the series. My point of view, it's just more people to beat. I don't know how else to say it, but it doesn't matter if there's 20 cars or 100 cars, the aim still is to be first.”
The British driver, who lives in Los Angeles, has spent the offseason preparing for this moment. From the second the checkered flag fell on his season last year at Portland International Raceway, Foster immediately began to work with Andretti Autosport for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
In November, Foster also was selected as a finalist for the second consecutive year to the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Driver of the Year Award. The four finalists spent two days driving cars of all varieties: Formula 2, GT3 and LMP3. Although Foster narrowly missed out on the prize of £200,000 and a Formula One test, he was recently recognized as part by the BRDC SuperStars, a program created by 1996 F1 champion Damon Hill that focuses on the next generation of British talent.
“It's great to be recognized outside of teams and stuff,” Foster said. “It's an organization that is scouting young drivers who are British, and they're just trying to really put the best foot forward of British drivers in world motorsport. You know, you've got kids in F2 in that program, some drivers in World Endurance (Championship), some drivers in Supercup Porsches, every aspect of motorsport. So, yeah, it is a real honor to be considered as one of the top British drivers in the world.”
Now, that mindset of being one of the best to represent his country also translates to confidence in his abilities, specifically, street circuits. Despite no experience on those circuits before 2022, Foster adapted quickly with two podiums (one runner-up) at the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg circuit. He elevated those standards later in the season by sweeping the weekend doubleheader on the streets of Toronto.
“I like street circuits because it's little room for error, and I think that that makes better drivers stand out and I think it makes worse drivers worse because they get scared of the walls,” Foster said. “They're not confident with their abilities. They're worried about hitting walls.
“For me, the wall is like a white line. I still push up to it. I just enjoy it because I think there's a big mental game there, as well, with drivers, and I think I can take advantage of that.”