Despite the fact that Dalton Kellett didn’t contest the first NTT IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, the Canadian will be making his debut during the 2020 IndyCar season. He’s splitting his A.J. Foyt Racing ride with two of IndyCar’s top veteran racers, which is something that very few rookies have ever been able to claim—and he will be getting plenty of seat time in his freshman season.
No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing (1st year; at Indianapolis Road Course, Road America, Mid-Ohio, and Laguna Seca only).
Overall points finish of 7th in the Indy Lights series.
Changes for 2020
2020 will be Dalton Kellett’s first year in the NTT IndyCar Series. He drove for Andretti Autosport in the first three years of his Indy Lights career before moving to Juncos Racing for his final Lights season in 2019, and now will be entering a brand new environment with A.J. Foyt Racing in IndyCar.
🚨🚨 2020 Announcement 🚨🚨
— Dalton Kellett (@Dalton_Kellett) February 4, 2020
Strengths in 2020
While Dalton Kellett isn’t contesting a full 2020 IndyCar season, his No. 14 entry will be. Sébastien Bourdais and Tony Kanaan will be splitting the races that Kellett isn’t driving, which means that Kellett will have two of IndyCar’s most seasoned veterans to assist him in terms of feedback and car setup. That kind of experience is indispensable for a rookie, especially one who only secured a handful of podium finishes in Indy Lights.
And, as Kanaan proved with the No. 14 during IndyCar’s season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, Kellett will be getting behind the wheel of a top-10 car.
Challenges in 2020
No one’s rookie year is ever easy, but Kellett is at a significant disadvantage this season with the pandemic-postponed season. He didn’t have an opportunity to race at Texas Motor Speedway, which means that he’s starting off his year on the back foot when compared to other rookies like Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay. His last opportunity to come to grips with an Indy car was during the open test at Circuit of the Americas in February.
He took up the mantle for A.J. Foyt Racing during the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, but that’s not quite the same as driving a physical car. Kellett is going to have to adapt pretty quickly to remain on par with his fellow rookies.
And while the presence of Kanaan and Bourdais will come in handy, they’re also the last two people you’d want to be compared to during your first season. If Kellett is unable to keep pace with them, it could be a detriment to his future with the sport.
This isn’t the season to predict wins or podiums for Dalton Kellett. His standard will be whether or not he can secure finishes comparable to those of the other rookies and to his more experienced carmates. The Canadian could hold his own, but only if he’s ready to adapt to uncertainty and dedicate himself to making rapid improvements. Kellett’s goal in his debut season is top-10s, not race wins.
The 2020 IndyCar season continues Saturday, July 4 with the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will air at 12:15 p.m. ET on NBC.