Kellett says methodical climb up Mazda Road to Indy ladder has prepared him for the big time.
Could there be more than one Canadian in the Verizon IndyCar Series next season?
There will be if Stouffville, Ontario’s Dalton Kellett has anything to say about it.
“That’s the goal right now,” he says. “I feel like right now, where I am as a driver, I’m prepared to make that jump.”
The 23-year-old’s assertions may seem confident, but that’s with good reason. After hatching his racing career, as so many Canadian racers do, at Goodwood Kartways at the age of 14, Kellett spent only a brief stint in what was then known as the Ontario Formula Ford Championship (today it’s the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship) before heading for the United States and the Mazda Road to Indy.
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He’s made the intended steady progression up the ladder: after two years in the entry-level USF2000 series, two years in the middle in Pro Mazda, and now being halfway through his second year in the top-rung Indy Lights championship, the natural next step would see Kellett graduate into full-time IndyCar competition.
“When I was transitioning from go-karts and Formula Ford to the rest of my career in cars, I was looking at the options available, whether it was racing in the States or pursuing open-wheel over in Europe,” he explains.
“With the Mazda Road to Indy, the way the program is structured with the prize money (champions earn a scholarship to move to the next level) and the consistent, linear path, that’s why I chose that.”
Kellett also has the good fortune of driving for Andretti Autosport, a team that’s well known for helping both racers and crew members systematically work their way through the Mazda Road to Indy ranks until they’re ready for the IndyCar big time.
As a result, Kellett has already tested an IndyCar twice: once last year at Watkins Glen International and again a few weeks ago at Road America.
“Both tests were really good learning experiences,” he says. “Last year’s test in the 27 car with Marco’s crew was my first time in the car and my first time at Watkins Glen, so it was a big chunk to chew off.
“We got cut short by rain, so we only got about 20 laps in. It wasn’t really the best intro to the car, but it was still a great opportunity to work with the engineers and crew and see my data overlaid with Marco’s and the other IndyCar drivers.
“This year’s test was really just taking what I learned and building on it. I was really happy with the pace I was able to show and the feedback I was able to give to the team.”
The one thing Kellett is still searching for is his breakthrough win. Having achieved a pair of podium finishes over the last two years in the crown jewel on the Indy Lights calendar, the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he thinks he knows where that victory might come.
“The Andretti Autosport Lights crew and myself are very strong on the ovals,” he says. “From an odds standpoint, I would be looking at Gateway Motorsports Park in August.”
Of course, the ideal scenario would be for him to pull it off in front of the hometown crowd here in Toronto.
“That would be amazing,” Kellett says. “And it would definitely be a bit of a redemption story. I haven’t had the best of luck there. In 2015, I was taken out, and last year, all across the board, the three Andretti cars really struggled.
“The Toronto Indy is my most meaningful race. The Canadian racing fans are great and all of my family and friends will be out there, so that would be a huge occasion if we could bring the car home first.”