AJ Foyt Racing’s Tatiana Calderon in the No.11 ROKiT Chevrolet gained valuable race experience as she completed her first NTT IndyCar Series race distance at the Firestone Grand Prix presented by RP Funding on Sunday.
The Colombian started the race from 25th and had a great fight with her team-mate Dalton Kellett and came home in 24th place.
Speaking following the action she said:
“It was the toughest race physically of my career. “Obviously, a hundred laps with only one caution was quite hard but I think we managed to get a feeling for both tire compounds. I did a few mistakes running out of road and a few things but sometimes you have to learn the hard way. But I was happy to cross the line to get a bit more information, a bit more fitness for what’s coming next. And to know where I need to improve as well and where I can maybe help with the balance of the cars, so I’m quite happy with all that information. Hopefully, we can come back to Long Beach and push harder.
Making his IndyCar debut, Kyle Kirkwood was extremely impressive as he too completed his first race distance coming home in 18th place.
“I’m super happy with the outcome of everything. “I think this weekend there’s a lot of new moving parts going on, along with myself, and everyone executed. Yeah, we were on the wrong strategy and we got hosed by a caution but that’s part of racing. We showed this entire weekend that we have pace and we showed pace in the race with the ROKiT Chevrolet. We ran right there with veteran drivers like Newgarden and Pagenaud. I was super happy with that. I was thrilled I kind of ran Newgarden down at one point so I couldn’t ask for anything better than that to be honest for my first ever race. It’s just unfortunate we were on the wrong strategy but we were on the right strategy until the caution came out.”
It was a disappointing race for Dalton Kellett who retired with a mechanical issue and speaking following the action he said:
Not the finish we were looking for. “We had really high hopes and expectations coming in from our best qualifying in INDYCAR so far, so I have to commend the No. 4 K-Line Insulators Chevy team for that performance. That was a great day on Saturday – really happy with how it went. Obviously, we were wanting more in the race but suffered a mechanical issue and will figure out what happened there, diagnose that, and make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s part of the process and learning how to do this better every weekend and that’s all we can ask for. Just got to keep grooving and take the positives from this weekend and go into Texas.”
Team President Larry Foyt said:
It was a tough race day after a really good weekend leading up to today. We were hoping for some better finishes. On the 14 car, the strategy didn’t pay out with the way the long yellow fell due to the wall repair–it definitely hurt the strategy the 14 and the 4 were on. And it’s unfortunate the 4 car had a mechanical problem and couldn’t finish the race. Kyle and Dalton were really happy with their cars and it looks like we have a pretty good street course package. We believe that will continue throughout the year. Both guys did a really good job and drove really hard.
Tatiana did a nice job in her first INDYCAR race, and she made it to the finish. It was definitely the toughest race she’s ever done, so I think she learned a lot and will keep improving from here. We have to look at the positives, we showed good pace in qualifying, now we just need to put the whole weekend together.