Kanaan Signs With A. J. Foyt Racing For 2018

Tony Kanaan and AJ Foyt arrive at the driver announcement on AJ's golf cart. [Chris Owens Photo]

Tony Kanaan and AJ Foyt arrive at the driver announcement on AJ’s golf cart. [Chris Owens Photo]

by Joe Jennings

Tony Kanaan has signed on with A. J. Foyt racing for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. The 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner will drive the famed No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. The No. 14 was made famous by team owner A. J. Foyt, who carried the number to four Indianapolis 500 victories. The 2018 season also marks the 14th year of sponsorship by ABC Supply.

“I think Tony can put it up there where the 14 is used to running, that’s first, so I think he can do that — I don’t say it will be easy, but I know he can do it,” A. J. Foyt said. “We’ve talked with Tony for the last couple of years, and I’m just glad we were able to put something together because I know he wants to win as bad as we want to. He’s always been a hard charger, and I like somebody who wants to charge hard.”

At 42, Kanaan believes he has many good years left as does Foyt.
Said Kanaan, “I am very excited. Obviously we know we have a lot of work to do to build the team to where we want it to be. I mean, I’m coming off of a very difficult season, so I think it was a time for us to get together here with — I’m bringing my engineer, Eric Cowdin, which was part of the win with the 500 Chevy, and we’re excited. It’s a great time for me. I think driving for a legend like AJ and all the stories and what I can learn from him still, it will be something that I’m going to take it for the rest of my life. So I’m really excited about it. Hopefully we’ll put that 14 car where AJ wants me to put it, which is going to be in first place.”

Regarding the significance of the number, Kanaan added, “I think out of all the numbers that I’ve driven through my career that is definitely the one that puts a lot more pressure on me, so I’m going to have to make sure that I keep up the tradition of that number and hopefully we will do that. I can’t wait for opening day at the 500 and put the 14 car on the track to do a lap like that, especially with me driving. Having garage (No.) 1 for me, it’s like — it’s kind of cool.”

For the upcoming season, the No. 14 team will re-locate from Waller, Texas, to Indianapolis, switching shops with the team’s No. 4 operation. No driver has been announced for the latter car, the same one driven by Conor Daly in 2017.

Overseeing the Foyt operation is Larry Foyt, who uttered his pleasure with the signing of Kanaan, saying, “We both knew each other and had talked and had said if the time ever came available that we could do something together that we would look at it seriously. So that’s really what happened, and I think everybody was just ready for a new challenge. We know it’s going to be a challenge, but we felt like together we could really put something together and start winning again, so that’s what brought it together.”

With the transition to the new car for 2018, everyone knows about the challenges ahead and they are preparing for it. Kanaan commented, “The cars are changing, so how the team is going to respond to that is basically what we’re going to build. Bringing my engineer in, I think it’s a big help because he knows the way I like to drive. He knows the way I like to set up the car. So I would say for me, it’s a big step. We can come in and try to introduce my driving style. Obviously we don’t know how the new car is going to perform. We’ve still got to go test and see how it is going to behave, so everyone is pretty much starting from scratch.”

Although the Foyt team hasn’t won in a while, it feels that Kanaan brings renewed energy to the acclaimed team, and they can’t wait for the new season to begin. Larry Foyt said Kanaan assured him he would give it 110 percent, which is all they needed to know. “When we looked each other in the eye, we both knew that this was what we wanted to do and our goals were aligned, and that’s why we think it’s going to work.”

And work they will do between now and March when the new season starts.

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