INDIANAPOLIS – Al-Fe Heat Treating announced today that they will be back with A.J. Foyt Racing for a seventh consecutive year as a major associate sponsor. The Al-Fe Heat Treating logo will be on both ABC Supply Chevrolets for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
“The 2017 season looks to be an exciting and challenging one for Foyt Racing and we at Al-Fe Heat Treating wouldn’t miss it for anything!” said Kurt Westman, founder and president of the largest commercial aluminum heat treating operation in the United States via a press release. “New drivers, new cars, the best crews in IndyCar and the best team owners…we continue to be privileged to be part of the most historical race team in autosports. A.J., Larry and the entire team have made the Al-Fe team friends, made us feel welcome and a part of the IndyCar experience. They have my many thanks!”
The company’s foray into motorsports began in 2011 at the Indianapolis 500 and it quickly grew to a full-season association with the team. In the years since, the company has increased its involvement with the team. Starting in 2014, they sponsored an Al-Fe Heat Treating entry in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. In 2015, and again in 2016, the company’s entry competed in the Indy 500, and in 2016, it also competed in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The liveries for the entries were designed in a retro scheme with the cars having a tie to racing’s glorious past.
In 2014, the Al-Fe Heat Treating No. 41, driven by Martin Plowman, carried a ‘Coyote Red’ color scheme as a tribute to the Foyt Coyotes that won the 1967 and 1977 Indy 500s. In the next year’s 500, Alex Tagliani drove the Al-Fe Heat Treating No. 48 because the 41 had become a full-time entry during the off season. The car’s livery was a tribute to Dan Gurney, a good friend of Foyt (and co-driver in their 1967 Le Mans victory); Gurney was most closely associated with the number 48 in IndyCar racing. Last year Tagliani again drove the Al-Fe entry which was numbered 35 as a tribute to A.J.’s record 35 straight runs in the Indy 500, a record unlikely to be equaled. The black car with Coyote Red trim evoked the Copenhagen car in which A.J. retired from Indy cars in 1993 on Pole Day at Indy.
With all that being said, one big nugget was in the press release that shows that Foyt likely won’t expand to a third car at Indy this year. The release states, “While there aren’t plans to feature a third entry this year owing to the team’s reorganization over the winter, Al-Fe Heat Treating will continue to support and leverage Foyt’s motorsports program throughout the season.”
That’s a pretty strong statement there that likely means just Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly will be behind the wheel of the two Foyt cars at Indy and no one else. The last two years, Alex Tagliani was in that car, but it now appears unless something drastic happens, Foyt will show up with just two cars.
Now, that’s not a concern though as the team is working on rebuilding a winning image. They brought in a whole new engineering staff, two new drivers, new team members and even split shops with down in Texas (Munoz’ car) and the other in Speedway (Daly’s car). On top of that, they switched from Honda power to Chevy as well. All this could mean that they don’t have the resources to have a third team and want to focus on making the best of their two-car operation.
The other factor is Honda helping that third car the last few years and quite frankly, Chevy doesn’t have a car/engine for them. Chevy may have leased out extra cars/engines elsewhere.