Michael Colliver is Matheus Leist’s race engineer. Colliver has been with the team on and off since 2008 when he worked full-time with Darren Manning. He returned to a full-time position last year and helped out in between with the team’s third car at Indy, among other projects. Following are his answers to questions about this weekend’s race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On the IMS road course: “Obviously, it's a natural terrain course but it's very flat, unlike most road courses that have elevation change. It has a few corners that are more like street circuits in that they are low grip, slow, no camber and 90 degrees. But, you still have some fast braking/turn high lateral load sections and a 190mph straight to boot, so....I'd say it's relatively unique.”
On engineer’s biggest challenge in the Grand Prix: “Following up on the previous question a bit. The biggest challenge is getting the mechanical grip and balance proper so that the car can rotate through the slow corners well, but still have enough support and stiffness to keep it from being lazy in the fast sections and not bottoming on the long, fast front straight. Which leads into the other major challenge, which will be choosing the proper downforce level with the 2018 universal aero kit (UAK).
“Ultimate lap-time for qualifying usually requires a much different downforce level than the race. In the race if you run too much downforce / drag then you can't pass or will be a sitting duck for other cars to pass you, so finding that difference and the proper gearing to go with it will be a challenge.”
On the progress of Matheus “Matt” Leist and working with this rookie: “Matheus has done a great job from day one. Given his age (19), he is very mature and methodical in how he approaches things and just in general a pleasant, respectful young man. He has continued to ask good questions and learns something every time we are on the track. He is really smart and retains information very well. While all of these are great qualities, the most enjoyable part of working with him is that he approaches everything as a true team effort. He looks inward as to "what can I do better?" to improve the car and team, regardless if we are really struggling or if we are running well. He is honest when he makes a mistake, takes his fair portion of the blame and that is really very refreshing.”
On having the veteran Tony Kanaan on the team with a rookie: “The really neat thing about having Tony around is that he can confirm things that Matheus is feeling in the car. It gives us the confidence to sometimes make certain changes to the car or maybe just let the track come to us. So, instead of maybe spending time trying to fix something that can't necessarily be fixed based on the current track condition etc. we can narrow our scope a bit. Also, if I see something in the data that Tony is doing differently in a certain part of the track, I can have Matt ask him why he's doing what he's doing and then Matt can put that to use going forward. If we didn't have Tony, Matt might never think to try that technique and we might spend a bunch of effort trying to get the car to do something that he could make it do with a simple trick that Tony has learned along the way.”
On practice and qualifying in one day at some tracks: “If the car is good off the trailer it's better because the other teams don't have as much time to catch up. If the car is bad to start, it's very tough for the same reason....without the overnight hours to really dig through the data, old notes, etc. it's hard to catch up. Even when the car is good it does make for a very hectic day as it is go, go, go, from the minute you arrive until the day is over. All in all (as A.J. might say) I like the two-days for practice and qualifying better.”
On eliminating the final warm-up at some tracks this year: “The best thing is you don't have to get up at 5 a.m. to be at the track for an 8:30 a.m. session. The couple extra hours of sleep really help during the events where we travel home after the race...by the time you get home and get to bed they can turn into 18-20 hour days.
“Again, if the car is good out of the trailer it's not a big deal not having a final practice. However, if you're struggling, it adds to the pressure as you have one less session to get things sorted out. Practice session 2 has become a hybrid session for doing race prep (ride heights, tire degradation evaluations, fuel savings, Push-2-Pass testing and gearing, etc.) in addition to keeping an eye on the qualifying setup. Before, you could mainly focus on pure speed through Qualifying knowing you still had an entire 30m session after qualifying to focus on those race specific items.”
Tony Kanaan (No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet): “There is always a big anticipation for the
Grand Prix because it is the race just before the 500. I love the road course and I’m excited to be back and expecting good things. You’re at the Speedway so it’s always a cool race. In the past we used to stay here the whole month, but then they shortened the month of May, and now by adding the Grand Prix, the month of May came back in my opinion. I’m really excited to be back.”
Matheus “Matt” Leist (No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet: “I’m excited for my first month of
May in IndyCar. It’s a pleasure to be here and I’m looking forward to the month. I’m happy with the performance of the car so far and I think we have great potential here at the Indy road course. We had a tough qualifying in Barber but the race was pretty good, so I think we had a decent pace there. We’ll try to carry the momentum to Indy and have a great month here. Personally, the Indy road course is a track I really like, last year I got my first podium in Indy Lights here [finished third] so I’m looking forward to the race.”
Last Race: At Barber, Tony Kanaan started 23rd and finished 18th and is 12th in the points. Matheus Leist started 21st and placed 12th. Leist is 18th in the points.
Past Performance at Indy Grand Prix: Tony Kanaan’s best start is fifth in 2016 while his best finish is 7th in 2015. This will be Matheus Leist’s inaugural start in the Indy Grand Prix. In last year’s Indy Lights Series, he started ninth in Race 1 and finished fifth; in Race 2, he started and finished third, his first podium in the series. AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is fourth in 2016 with Jack Hawksworth, the team’s best finish is ninth with Takuma Sato who finished ninth in 2014 and 2015.
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 160 guests.
ABC Supply roofing customer, Trim-A-Home Inc., located in Leo-Cedarville, Ind., 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 account Architectural Walls, based in Greenwood, Ind., 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 Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be televised live on ABC-TV Saturday, May 12, starting at 3:30 pm ET. The radio broadcast will be on Sirius XM radio on the following channels: Sirius 212, XM 209, SXM 970.