In a move that was surprising to a grand total of no one, 20 year old Matheus Leist was announced today as AJ Foyt Enterprises second driver in the historic marquees 2018 title quest.
Leist will form the leagues only all-Brazilian lineup as he partners veteran driver and 2013 Indy 500 winner, Tony Kanaan.
"This is a special moment in my career and I'm so grateful for the things that are happening," Leist said. "Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that I'll be driving for the legend A.J. Foyt. Having Tony Kanaan as my teammate is incredible because he's been an idol for me since I was a child."
Leist may be a new name to the Indycar faithful, but he has had more than his share of experience. He got his start in karting in 2009 and by age 14 he finished runner up in the prestigious Brazilian Petrobas Karting Championship. From there he graduated to single seaters, racing in the Brazilian F3 championship before following in the footsteps of many other Brazilian greats, and entering in the British F3 Championship.
Over the course of the 2014 season, Lesit scored four victories and fought hard to bring the title battle to the final race of the season, before eventually losing out to Ricky Collard.
After a post season GP3 test in 2016, Leist moved his attention Stateside, signing with Carlin Racing to enter in the Indy Lights Championship. Leist took three wins during his one year stint with the team, which included a dominant near flag to flag victory at the Freedom 100 in Indianapolis.
Leist and his Carlin Indy Light challenger. He would finish 4th in the 2017 championship. Photo Credit: Indycar
His signing with Foyt can only be viewed as a good thing for a team in desperate need of consistency and good driving. By partnering Leist with Kanaan, the team clearly hopes the veteran's wealth of experience will rub off on his younger countryman.
"I think the combination of an experienced driver like Tony and a hungry young driver like Matt will work," said team president Larry Foyt. "I watched him in the Indy Lights this year and he won at Indy. I know he's got a lot to learn but I think he's going to learn very quick and I think he'll be very good in the Indy cars."
Foyt let go both Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz at the end of last season.