A.J. Foyt is looking for a new full-time sponsor and isn’t sure about a driver line-up yet, but the IndyCar legend says his team will definitely will be back for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series.
Speaking to RACER.com from his ranch in Texas on Sunday morning, Foyt confirmed that ABC Supply is leaving as his primary backer after 15 years but will continue to be involved in the Indianapolis 500, and the decision will not affect his team’s participation in the sport he’s been involved in for seven decades.
“ABC is pulling back but they will still be with me at Indianapolis,” said Foyt, whose longevity with sponsors includes 12 years with U.S. Tobacco and 15 years with Gilmore Broadcasting. “They’ve spent a ton of money taking customers to races, and I don’t think there’s been a better partner for IndyCar. They’re great people, and they’ve been great to me.”
Mike Jost, the chief operating officer of ABC Supply, gave RACER the following statement: “A.J. Foyt Racing has been part of the ABC Supply family for 15 years, and although we have decided that it’s time to scale back our racing program, A.J. and Larry Foyt and Anne Fornoro and the rest of the team will forever be part of ABC Supply. We wish them all the luck in the world next season, and we look forward to cheering for the ABC Supply Racing car in the 2020 Indy 500.”
Indy’s first four-time winner has campaigned two ABC cars for the past several years, and says it will be business as usual next year as new sponsorships are sought.
“I think we’ve got three or four potential sponsors lined up and we’re probably going to keep running two cars,” he said. “I’m going to keep our shops in Indianapolis and Houston. I just want people to know we’re not leaving.”
But the current lineup of veteran Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist figures to change.
“I don’t know about our drivers, it’s up in the air,” he responded when asked the obvious question. “I think Larry and I will sit down after the last race and make some decisions.”
Until Kanaan’s third place last week at Gateway, it had been a tough season for Foyt. The 2013 Indy winner finished eighth at Pocono and ninth at Indy, while Leist’s best showing is a fourth place at the Indy Grand Prix in May. They currently rank 15th and 19th respectively in the point standings.
Kanaan is keen to have a farewell season, but would appear to have limited options.
ABC Supply began its partnership with the legendary Foyt team in 2005, and quickly made its presence felt through staunch support of the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and his IndyCar effort.
Although victories have been fleeting during the 15-year relationship, the 2013 Long Beach win by Takuma Sato proved to be among the most popular of the season, and podiums by the Japanese driver, Mike Conway, Darren Manning, Vitor Meira, and last weekend in Gateway by Kanaan complemented the company’s ongoing faith in the team.
The irascible 84-year-old hasn’t been to the last few races because he’s battling a back problem, but he was pretty unhappy with his team’s performance this year. Asked if he considered just shutting things down, he growled: “I’ve been doing this my whole life, why would I quit now? What in the hell else would I do? And this is Larry’s team, too.
“We’ll be back next year, I guarantee it. We’re not going away.”