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Foyt team looks to be stronger in ’16 with key front office changes

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Takuma Sato leads A.J. Foyt Racing teammate Jack Hawksworth in the 2015 season-ending race at Sonoma.

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While the driver lineup of Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth will remain the same in 2016 for A.J. Foyt Racing’s ABC Supply Racing team, there will be two key changes on the administrative side of the organization.

Foyt and his son, team president Larry Foyt, announced Wednesday that in addition to the previously revealed hire of George Klotz to serve as Team Director, Don Halliday will move from Chief Engineer to Technical Director, overseeing the team’s race engineers and the Honda race cars.

“(This is) an important step to bringing some consistency to the team’s performance,” Larry Foyt said in a release. The moves are the next evolution as the team moves forward into its second season as a two-car entry. Prior to 2015, ABC Supply Racing was a one-car team from 2003 through 2014.

We’re happy to have both Takuma and Jack continuing with us next season because we know they have the talent to win races,” Larry Foyt said. “Maintaining that continuity and building on what we started last season should show immediate benefits.

“This winter we are focusing on putting all the pieces in place to not only win, but to be a championship caliber team. The consistency of keeping our nucleus together while strengthening our weak points should give us some very competitive ABC cars in the upcoming season.”

Sato will embark upon his fourth season with the Foyt organization in 2016. In so doing, he becomes the second-longest tenured full-time driver in team history behind founder A.J. Foyt. It is also the longest Sato has been with any team in IndyCar or Formula One.

“It is an absolute honor to be continuously driving for AJ Foyt Racing,” Sato said. “I just appreciate that A.J. and Larry have given me such a fantastic opportunity to drive for this team. I have had great memories with the team and am very happy to add many more.”

Hawksworth, meanwhile, enters his second season with the Foyt operation and his third season in IndyCar.

“We know there is a large amount of work to be done if we are going to compete regularly with the top teams next season,” Hawksworth said. “It’s clear though that the team is already making steps and I’m excited about what George Klotz can bring to the table in 2016.

“It’s far too early to make any predictions but I’m optimistic that if we can have a strong winter program then we’ll certainly put ourselves in a stronger position than this past season.”

Klotz, 54, previously worked for the elder Foyt in 1990-1991 as a mechanic. He will oversee operation of both cars and will evaluate ways to improve overall efficiency and streamline team operations.

“I think they are so close to breaking out, and I think that is the feeling throughout the paddock,” Klotz said of the organization. “All of the elements are there, we just need to get everything aligned and I think I can help Larry with that.

“He’s done a great job to get the team to this point and I’m excited by the possibilities and the guys seem excited too.”

Klotz has worked for a number of teams including Foyt, Hayhoe Cole Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Forsythe Racing, Andretti Green Racing and its successor, Andretti Autosport, which he spent the last 15 seasons with as team director.

Follow @JerryBonkowski