Dalton Kellett has two goals in mind entering his third season driving for Andretti Autosport in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship: be consistent and minimize mistakes.
The 24-year-old from Toronto ended his sophomore season 12th in the standings, just behind teammate Ryan Norman. The driver of the No. 28 K-Line Insulation Mazda/Dallara IL-15 believes he can be in championship contention this season. He’ll get a barometer of where he stands when all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy test at Homestead-Miami Speedway from Friday through Monday.
“The data from the last few years shows that championships are won by consistently placing yourself in the top five,” Kellett said. “So, on my end, I am looking to improve overall performance and eliminate little mistakes that led to lost positions during races."
Kellett had his share of highs 2017, including podium finishes on two ovals (Indianapolis, Iowa). He acknowledged that he left a lot on the table on the road and street courses, where his best finish came in Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park in April, when he finished sixth.
“On the ovals we were pretty quick,” he said. “Those two finishes were great to have.
“I think where we lacked a little bit was the permanent road courses. On the street courses, we were quick but we just made some mistakes during the races.”
The Canadian specified that his most significant takeaway from 2017 was the progress he made in developing car setups and collaborating that with his three teammates – Nico Jamin, Colton Herta and Ryan Norman. All but Jamin return, with Pato O’Ward seated in Andretti’s fourth Indy Lights entry this season.
“We definitely focused a lot more on adapting the setup in the car to what I needed as a driver to go quick,” Kellett said. “In the first year, it’s your first time in the car, you have teammates with experience, you’re taking their lead. Whereas (in 2017), we had a roster of good drivers and we were able to have good input on individual car setups.”
Kellett spent a good part of the offseason recuperating from illness, missing tests including the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in October.
He has recovered and tested at the Sebring International Raceway in December in preparation for the upcoming season. Kellett noted that the test went well.
“Having not driven the car since the last race at Watkins (Glen, in the season finale), it was tough to get back in the car, but I was up to speed pretty quick,” he said. “The test went better than we thought it was going to go, so that was encouraging.
“The only place that I struggled was that I noticed in my car is that I was pretty much stationary for a couple of months and my cardio was down a little bit,” he said. “I’m going to be training really hard leading up to St. Pete, so I should be back to normal and hopefully better than I was last year.”
Kellett and the rest of the Indy Lights competitors will test on Homestead-Miami’s 1.5-mile oval on Friday before the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda entrants split time on the 2.21-mile road course on Saturday and Sunday. Indy Lights teams return to action Monday on the road course to complete the spring training sessions.
All three Mazda Road to Indy levels open their 2018 season with doubleheader race weekends at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg that opens the Verizon IndyCar Series campaign from March 9-11.
Indy Lights has a 17-race schedule this year, Pro Mazda is at 16 races and USF2000 has 14 races on the docket.