Tony Kanaan joined AJ Foyt Racing this season to drive the team’s flagship No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Kanaan began racing IndyCars in 1998 and has claimed 17 victories and 15 pole positions. The most experienced among drivers at age 43, Kanaan will make his 357th IndyCar start, and 297th consecutive start in the Verizon IndyCar Series at Pocono Raceway this weekend. We asked him a few questions…
Q: What are your thoughts on Pocono Raceway?
TK: “They don’t call it the “Tricky Triangle” for nothing. Pocono is a very unique oval with three corners instead of four and all of them are different from each other. I remember the first time I tested there when I looked down that wide front stretch going into Turn 1 I thought that was crazy. And it is, but it’s also a crazy fun track to drive. There is always a bit of compromise when setting up the car because the turns are so different, but when you get it right, it’s a blast. We tested there last week focusing on the 500 mile race and I believe we still have some work to do when we start running on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it, especially because the title sponsor is ABC Supply and we’ll have a ton of supporters there. I always ran upfront at Pocono but for some reason or other didn’t get the result I expected at the end... it’s time to change that.”
Q: What do you enjoy most about racing at Pocono?
TK: “The feeling of speed and the challenge of setting up the car for the different corners.”
Q: What does it take (car-wise) to be fast there?
TK: “You’ve got to compromise a bit in order to have a good car for all three corners. It's not easy to get comfortable during a long run knowing that the car will start getting worse at one corner sooner than the others. Balance is key.”
Q: Rodger Ward designed the track so that the three unique turns were fashioned after these tracks: Turn 1 – Trenton Speedway, Turn 2 – Indy, Turn 3 – Milwaukee. Do they remind you of those tracks? Which is the most difficult corner? Which is the most important turn and why?
TK: “Yes, for Indy and Milwaukee - I've never been to Trenton. [Note: A.J. Foyt confirmed Trenton]. The most difficult and important turn for me is Turn 3 because there is no banking. If you get it wrong you lose too much going into Turn 1.”
Q: Is qualifying well more important this year than last (due to aero kit and difficulty passing)?
TK: “Normally you don't really emphasize the starting position for 500 mile races, but with the new aero kit it's still an unknown.”
Q: Being that ABC Supply is the sponsor of the race, do you feel more pressure to do well?
TK: “Not really, I actually enjoy having more people around cheering for the No. 14 ABC Supply car.”
Q: The first time you went 8-wide into Turn 1 on a start what did you think?
TK: “The only thing I thought was that I wanted to be on the outside of that mess.”
Q: In helping to re-build the team, did you anticipate it being this difficult? What have you learned from the experience?
TK: “Yes, I never thought that it would be an easy task. There were a lot of changes on the engineering side and with the personnel, so it was expected for us to have some challenges. We evolved pretty quickly up through the 500 where I had an excellent car and everything was going to plan until we had a cut tire. I've learned that there is no secret formula that will make something change from one day to the other, but if we keep our heads down and keep working hard we will get where we want.”
MATHEUS LEIST on Pocono: “Very excited to be racing at Pocono Raceway this weekend. The test last week (Aug. 9) was very productive but we still have some areas to improve. Such a different and tricky track to drive, but I like it. It will be a great weekend and I’m looking forward to meeting all of the ABC Supply family over there. Hopefully we’re gonna have a great race and bring them a great result.”
Last Race: At Mid-Ohio, Kanaan started 19th and finished 18th, while Matheus Leist qualified 21st and finished 19th.
A.J. FOYT will miss the final four races of the IndyCar season. Foyt had back surgery in mid-July, and was recovering quickly until he came down with a staph infection at the end of the month. It required a second surgery and additional antibiotic treatment via a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) which will keep him close to home over the next six weeks.
Past Performance at Pocono Raceway: Tony Kanaan’s best start (4th) and finish (5th) came in 2017 with Chip Ganassi Racing. Matheus Leist is making his first start here in IndyCar. The Foyt team’s best start is 3rd (2016) and its best finish is 6th (2015) -- both with Takuma Sato. Sato qualified in the top 10 in all four starts here with Foyt. A.J. Foyt has the most IndyCar victories at the track with four: ’73, ’75, ’79, ’81.
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 nearly 1900 guests.
ABC Supply account HomeOwner Funding, based in Scranton, Pa., will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Tony Kanaan.
ABC Supply customer, R.L. Reppert, based in Emmaus, Pa., won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest. The company name will be on the engine cover of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment plus a Meet and Greet with Matheus “Matt” Leist.
The ABC Supply 500 will be televised live on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, Aug. 19, starting at 1:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be broadcast live on NBCSN Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET.
For more information on the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing program, please check our web site: ajfoytracing.com. 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.