Team Penske and A.J. Foyt Racing have forged a new technical alliance that should benefit both NTT IndyCar Series teams in the short- and long-term.
On the more immediate front, the two-car Foyt team is making use of dampers and technical support provided by Team Penske during the final races of the season, but the arrangement goes much deeper than go-fast parts and assistance with chassis builds and setups.
The relationship, which will expand in the coming years, will see Penske place younger crew and engineering staff within the Foyt team to gain IndyCar experience, and in time, when some of Penske’s Force Indy drivers are ready to graduate from Indy NXT, the Foyt team will be ready and capable of running a development driver on Penske’s behalf in IndyCar.
“We had seen those relationships happen in IndyCar whether it was Shank and Andretti, or we obviously have our relationship similar to that concept in NASCAR with the Wood Brothers,” Team Penske president Tim Cindric told RACER. “And we’ve used it as a training ground for people, whether it’s drivers or crew or engineers or whatever else, as long as we can control the IP or kind of have some direction on where it all goes, but still have a good relationship.”
The concept of a Penske-Foyt alliance was established by former Foyt leader Scott Harner in 2022, but with his departure for Andretti Autosport, the topic was parked until a recent outreach was made by Larry Foyt.
“I’ve known Larry and A.J. Foyt forever,” Cindric said. “And just before Iowa, Larry called me up and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you’re open to revisiting it, but would you be interested in trying to try to help us in some way and maybe working together in a way that you and Scott had talked about?’
“I said, ‘I’m glad you called because, I’ve been thinking about something like this, and maybe not this year or next year, but at some point in time, if we’re helping guys like Myles Rowe, as an example, who we’re helping to come up the ladder system, and if they win the Indy NXT championship, what are we going to do with them?’”
While the Foyt team will welcome Penske’s technical support, Penske will benefit from being able to place young crew members, engineers and possibly even drivers at Foyt to gain experience. Michael L. Levitt/Motorsport Imagesz
Penske’s approach to hiring IndyCar talent tends to involve the signing of proven veterans, rather than young rookies fresh off the open-wheel ladder. And with the likes of Rowe and Ernie Francis Jr, who are supported by Penske through his Force Indy program, the need to establish a satellite IndyCar operation where a talent like Rowe and the personnel who would learn to work in IndyCar with an affiliate team, stood out to Cindric as a worthwhile bridge to build.
“We’re not really the team to put a rookie into one of our cars right away, but you want to have some connection to them,” he said. “So if I’ve got two or three engineers that are ready to be race engineers, I don’t want to lose them to our competitors, but they’ve got to grow too, so this would be an opportunity for that to happen with Foyt. And then even some of these kids that are part of the Force Indy program that are looking to move up from NXT, we may or may not have a spot for them, so how do we keep them in the fold?
“And if Myles or Ernie or somebody else we’re invested in becomes ready for IndyCar and the financing is right, we like the idea of being able to work with a Foyt team we’re already involved in, so it made more and more sense to look at something like this where we can place good people with them.
”I told Larry, ‘Why don’t we try and help you the best we can, and we don’t have to do a big formal thing. Short-term, let’s keep working on this and build it out to where it benefits both organizations.’ So in the last few weeks, we’ve started helping those guys and we’ll continue mapping this thing out for where it will go down the road.”
Through the link to Penske, the Foyt team has a newfound attraction that should draw interest from a wider range of drivers and commercial partners. RACER has already heard about the Penske-Foyt alliance from a number of quality drivers who’ve expressed a desire to join the Foyt team as a result of Penske’s involvement.
“We think it’ll help them attract the right people, the right sponsors, and the right drivers, and we feel we’ll be able to get some benefit from it on our end,” Cindric said.
“It’s already evolved to where I think we have a really good understanding of how it will continue to develop.”