Eric Cowdin joined AJ Foyt Racing in October as the Technical Director and Tony Kanaan’s race engineer. Following are his thoughts on this weekend’s race on the Streets of Long Beach.
On the biggest challenge at Long Beach: “One of the biggest challenges is the track. It will change constantly through the weekend. There are different surface types all around the track that will gain grip at different rates.”
Effect of new aero kit on driving style: “The new aero kit has less drag so the drivers will be arriving at Turn 1 over 10 mph faster than last year. This will put a big emphasis on getting the braking points correct. There is also less grip from overall lower downforce so the drivers will have a lot more steering input to control the car.”
St. Petersburg race information’s application to Long Beach: “The new aero kit knowledge will apply directly from St. Pete because we will be running the same configuration at Long Beach. Mechanically it will take a reasonable amount of adjustment for Long Beach. The car needs a lot of straight line traction to get out of the hairpin.”
Potential for problems on pit lane: “There is always the potential for issues during pit stops. Everyone is pushing the limit to have the quickest stop possible. The pit lane at Long Beach is unique because it follows the curve of Shoreline Drive and is quite banked in the middle portion.”
On the importance of track walks: “As a team they are important because it gives us an opportunity to see if there are any changes to the track surfaces or curbing from last year. Remembering these are city streets the other 51 weeks of the year, there are always repaving or repairs that you wouldn’t notice in a street car but can have a big impact on an IndyCar. We make every effort to do the track walks, especially with a rookie driver.”
Satisfaction with team’s progress on new aero kit: “I’m happy with the progress we have made but we still have a lot of work ahead of us. By nature I’m never satisfied because we are always learning and always striving to go quicker.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet): “Long Beach is our most prestigious street course and one of the coolest races that we go to during the year. It’s a technical place with different types of pavement, long straightaways and some very tight turns that requires a lot from the setup of the car and also from the driver. It’s where I got my first pole-position in INDYCAR back in 1999 and also where AJ Foyt Racing got their last win, and we’ll be working hard to put the No. 14 ABC Supply where it deserves.”
MATHEUS ‘MATT’ LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet): “I’m really excited for the next round, the second street race of the year. The ABC Supply car was very fast in St. Pete. Hopefully we will have a great car in Long Beach as well. It’s a track and a place I’ve never been to before so I’m pretty excited. We’ll work hard to minimize the problems we had in Phoenix. I think we have a fast car, we just need to concentrate and do a great job in the races.”
Last Race: In Phoenix, Tony Kanaan started ninth and finished eighth to move into ninth place in the points. Matheus Leist started 16th and placed 19th after a pit lane incident which caused him to lose several laps. Leist is 21st in the points.
Past Performance at Long Beach: Tony Kanaan won the pole here in 1999 driving for Forsythe Racing and posted his best finish of third in 2009 with Andretti-Green Racing. This will be Matheus Leist’s inaugural start in the Grand Prix. In 2017, the Indy Lights Series did not compete at this track. AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is fourth in 2013 with Takuma Sato who went on to win that race.
ABC Supply is in its 14th season as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s IndyCar team, making it the longest running team sponsor in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The company was founded in 1982 by Ken and Diane Hendricks with just three stores. The company now has over 700 stores and topped $9 billion in sales in 2017. ABC Supply began sponsoring the AJ Foyt Racing team with the 2005 Indianapolis 500. The company has leveraged its involvement by entertaining over 92,000 associates and customers over the past 13 racing seasons. This weekend the company will entertain over 500 guests.
ABC Supply roofing customer, Letner Roofing, located in Orange, Calif., won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest. The company name will be on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment plus a Meet and Greet with Tony Kanaan.
L&W Supply, a subsidiary of ABC Supply, selected national account Martin Bros., based in Gardena, Calif., to be featured on the engine cover of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Matheus “Matt” Leist.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on NBC Sports Network Sunday, April 15, starting at 4:00 pm ET. The radio broadcast will be on Sirius XM radio on the following channels: Sirius 212, XM 209, SXM 970.
To follow us on Twitter: @AJFoytRacing, @TonyKanaan, @MatheusLeist, @LarryFoyt14. On Instagram, @AJFoytRacing, @tkanaan, @matheusleist, @larryfoyt14. On facebook, we have the AJ Foyt Racing fan page.