Canada’s Dalton Kellett excited for first ‘real’ 500 Indianapolis
When Dalton Kellett first signed with AJ Foyt Racing in early 2020, he said he wanted to learn from the team’s wealth of experience on the IndyCar circuit. Kellett, of Stouffville, Ont.
When Dalton Kellett first signed with AJ Foyt Racing in early 2020, he said he wanted to learn from the team’s wealth of experience on the IndyCar circuit.
Kellett of Stouffville, Ont., Was able to tap into the collective knowledge of Team Foyt on May 22 by taking the 30th and final place in qualifying before the Indianapolis 500 this Sunday.
Kellett thought he was outside the fastest 30 qualifying laps when his team told him to switch to the priority lane and take one more lap, which ultimately guaranteed him a place on the starting grid of the first IndyCar season race.
“It’s super competitive in IndyCar and sometimes other teams were able to make it work for them and this time around we were able to use our experience,” Kellett said. “The team certainly appealed to the experienced managers and strategists that we have here.”
The way Kellett made the cut is complicated.
Kellett held last place on the qualifying grid, but sitting alone in his car he had the mistaken impression that former Indy 500 champion Will Power had pushed him back from 30th on the basis of average time in qualifying round. However, Power’s most recent entry didn’t count as it wasn’t one of the top 30 times on day one of qualifying.
Sage Karam, RC Enerson, Kellett’s teammate Charlie Kimball and Simona de Silvestro were also outside the top 30, hoping to beat Kellett.
So when the Canadian entered the priority lane and got on the track for a final qualifying lap, he just had to not crash and hope that De Silvestro’s last round did not did not beat his.
De Silvestro couldn’t catch up with Kellett, putting two Canadians on the field. James Hinchliffe of Oakville, Ont., Will start Sunday’s race in 16th place.
“Strategy wise, it was one of those cool moments,” Kellett said. “Come to think of it, it was the big drama of that day.
“That’s why qualifying is so exciting here for us and the fans.”
The 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 will be Kellett’s second participation in the race. Although he competed as a rookie at last year’s event, 2020 was not a typical Indy 500.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 edition of the race has been moved from its usual Memorial Day weekend location on the IndyCar calendar to August. When it was held, most of the traditional pomp and circumstance was canceled or changed and there were no fans in the stands.
Kellett, who lives in Indianapolis, said that of all these customary practices, he was most eager to attend the pre-race drivers meeting, which is usually open to the public but not in 2020.
“No other race that we’re going to has this kind of thing where the fans come to the drivers meeting,” said Kellett, who added that he looks forward to the return of the traditional pre-race parade in the future.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 28, 2021.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press