INDIANAPOLIS — Three days ago, Dalton Kellett was struggling to keep his No. 41 Chevrolet with AJ Foyt Racing above 215 mph. He couldn’t pass his third and final phase of rookie orientation until he did.
So, Tony Kanaan volunteered his services. The veteran driver has been through this before and felt he could lend a hand and see if it was the car or driver.
After a few laps over 218 mph despite Kanaan struggling to reach the pedals, they knew Kellett just needed pumped up.
That was all he needed. The confidence was there and it started to show immediately.
72 hours later, Kellett qualified his car with a four lap average of 228.880 mph.
“Really excited, really happy that we got that solid run in,” said the rookie. “Went off the order third, so the track was nice and cool. The car felt great for all four laps. It was good to get lots of practice in the heat yesterday when it was slippery, moving around, but I ended up getting a solid platform for this morning after a couple changes.
“Looking at the times, maybe we could have been a bit more aggressive on our mechanical balance, but we’ve really had the focus this week for the race, which is what we’re looking ahead for and devoted most of our time to, so I think being conservative in qualifying was always our plan. But very happy to get that run in, and looking forward to practice on Sunday.”
That says a lot that he feels that they went conservative when he was where he was just three day ago. He out qualified guys like Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Fernando Alonso.
The entire Foyt camp went conservative anyways. They didn’t feel like they had Fast Nine pace so went with more downforce.
It cost them better starting spots in hindsight.
“Well, a little bit disappointing. I think we could have been in the top 15, but the car was pretty comfortable,” Kanaan said. “We concentrated a lot on the race setup, and the car is actually pretty decent in race trim, so just a few more cars to pass, but, all in all, the temperature didn’t help us.
“Of course, we would have like to drawn an earlier (qualifying) number, but that’s just the luck of the draw. So, it is what it is, but we’re ready for next weekend.”
This group including Charlie Kimball May be sleepers. Kimball was the second best Chevy on Thursday. He was the best on the no tow chart on Friday. If not for a Turn 4 bobble on his qualifications run, he would have started better too.