RACER's 2023 IndyCar season preview: A.J. Foyt Racing

Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

RACER's 2023 IndyCar season preview: A.J. Foyt Racing

Insights & Analysis

RACER's 2023 IndyCar season preview: A.J. Foyt Racing


RACER takes a look at each full-time NTT IndyCar Series team ahead of the new season’s launch this weekend at St. Petersburg, starting with A.J. Foyt Racing.


2022 Entrants’ Championship Positions (1-25):

24th, No. 14 Chevy with Kyle Kirkwood

25th, No. 4 Chevy with Dalton Kellett

2023 Lineup:

No. 14 Chevy with Santino Ferrucci

No. 55 Chevy with Benjamin Pedersen (R)

It’s another complete reboot for the A.J. Foyt racing team.

Kyle Kirkwood returned to Andretti Autosport. Dalton Kellett transitioned away from racing. VP of Operations Scott Harner, who joined Foyt from Chip Ganassi Racing, moved on after the 2022 season concluded, as did former CGR veteran Grant Weaver, who served as Foyt’s team manager. Veteran race engineer Mike Colliver, who looked after the No. 14 in recent years and worked as Foyt’s technical director, has also stepped away.

That’s five key figures — two drivers, two team leaders, and the head of engineering—gone in one offseason, which is significant for any organization to weather. And because of the big ration of changes, the Foyt team is staring at a season of transition rather than building upon the base it established last year.

It feels like a lifetime has passed since we had the two familiar red, white, and blue ABC Supply entries for Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist, but that was as recent as 2019. And for the first time since 2019, it feels like the Foyt team could have a multi-year foundation to build upon with Santino Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen.

Freed from the asshatery brought by former primary sponsor ROKiT which promised big and delivered small, the team isn’t exactly overflowing with cash, but thanks to a strong infusion from Pedersen’s side, the Foyts went into the offseason with the ability to reimagine the team in a number of ways, starting with the hiring of Craig Brooks as its new team manager. Long on racing experience but short on IndyCar managerial miles, Brooks arrives with plenty of encouragement from the Foyts, but he’ll spend the year learning on the job.

Under the tent, it’s a case of two distinct camps with Ferrucci’s No. 14 and Pedersen’s No. 55, but that’s not said in a critical way.

Continuity on the No. 14 entry with chief mechanic Didier Francesia and most of the crew that ran Kirkwood is a really important factor for the team; the Indy 500-winning wrench is a classic ‘glue guy’ who brings the entire team together, and specifically, Ferrucci’s crew is primed and ready to go.

We can’t yet say the same about the No. 55 because so much of the crew is new to the team and they’re learning how to work together on a daily basis. They’ll figure it out, as all new groups do in time, but placing expectations on nailing pit stops and all the other items required to be competitive right out of the gate for the No. 55 entry would be unfair.

If Brooks was a quiet hire, it’s the arrival of Michael Cannon as technical director and race engineer who’s aligned with his former Dale Coyne Racing driver that made big waves. Cannon’s positives are well-known: super-talented veteran race engineer, works well with young drivers, and has the credentials to prove it, not the least with the last two Indy 500 poles and the 2020 championship taken with Scott Dixon.

The downside, and it can’t be ignored, is that Cannon started at the beginning of January, not the beginning of October. With a full offseason to apply his engineering influence to the team — starting with a forensic look through all of the engineering decisions made over the last 12 months before making critical calls on its damper and R&D programs — we would see Cannon’s mark on both entries.

Ferrucci and Pedersen head into 2023 with cause for optimism – and a need for patience. Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

But without those extra three months to move the team in the direction he believes it needs, we’re looking at a work in progress. The team struggled at Spring Training, and that was to be expected. Ferrucci, who never gets enough credit for his dogged performances on road and street courses, can be counted on to flog the No. 14 at all times; whatever it’s got for speed, he’ll show it. And we know he’s damn good on ovals.

And yet, with so little time to develop the car to his liking, Cannon and Ferrucci are tasked with making everything work to the Connecticut native’s preferences as they go through the early races. Daniele Cucchiaroni is assigned as Ferrucci’s race engineer with Cannon overseeing both entries. Together, they’ll need some time to find a groove, so patience will be required.

For Pedersen, who arrives in IndyCar with one Indy Lights win, it’s going to be nothing but learning across 17 races as the rookie gets to know the car, the series, his mostly new crew, and new race engineer Roberto Garcia, who will benefit massively from having a willing mentor in Cannon. The more Garcia can learn from Cannon’s decades of experience, the better.


Time and space. In its fourth straight reboot, the Foyt team needs to show it can make positive steps forward. It’s as basic as that: demonstrate progress as an organization.

With Cannon arriving not so much as a magical engineering unicorn but as someone who wants to spend the final years of his career shaping a smaller team into a bigger and better version of itself, the Foyts have gotten the perfect guy at the perfect time. From a depth standpoint, the team’s engineering bones are thin, but people love working with Cannon, so in time, I’d imagine a few of his former colleagues might want to join and fill out the department.

Ferrucci is the king of out-kicking his coverage, so be on the lookout for him to do well on the ovals—no surprise—but also to unexpectedly shine on a few road and street courses. Provided he and Cucchiaroni and Cannon find a rhythm and the Foyt cars aren’t too far behind on development to the rest, there’s the potential for some big results on occasion. But I couldn’t tell you if Ferrucci will finish 14th or 24th in the championship. There are just too many caveats and variables to make a prediction. More than anything, I look forward to what the Ferrucci entry will be able to do in 2024 when they’ve had sufficient time to arrive at the opening race with no limitations.

Pedersen, whose parents are all-in on their son’s growth and development, could be in for one of the tougher rookie seasons in recent memory. Dropped into the No. 14, I’d have the complete opposite view of what lies ahead for the Danish-American talent, but the No. 55 program isn’t as turnkey as the sister car. The kid’s tough, though. He’ll survive.

I’m excited for the Foyt team and all of the possibilities that are in front of them. It’s too early, however, to say whether their rise from the bottom of the Entrants’ championship will start in three months, six months, or a year from now. Patience is the word I’ll be reminding myself of as they go through this rebuilding process.