IRL: Carpenter and Foyt IV relish Saturday bout

Vision Racing drivers Ed Carpenter and AJ Foyt IV are in their first full season racing together. Both will be at the wheel of their Dallara/Honda racecars for this weekend's Texas Motor Speedway 342-mile (550 K) race on the highly banked oval...

Vision Racing drivers Ed Carpenter and AJ Foyt IV are in their first full season racing together. Both will be at the wheel of their Dallara/Honda racecars for this weekend's Texas Motor Speedway 342-mile (550 K) race on the highly banked oval that never fails to produce fantastic finishes, and sometimes, fisticuffs.

For Foyt, the return to Texas Motor Speedway for this Saturday night race under lights is a homecoming that he relishes.

"I've got some friends coming up (to Dallas/Ft Worth area, where the track is located) from Austin, so it should be a real fun weekend," he said during the Indy Racing League teleconference on Wednesday (June 6th).

For Foyt, the return to IndyCar came after a period of uncertainty in the stock car world, where his team and teammates were unfamiliar to him and the tracks not ones that he had encountered in his Indy Pro Series training ground.

"It's been spectacular to be back in IndyCar. I give all thanks to Tony George for making it possible. I've got great teammates with Ed and Tomas (Scheckter), and both of my teammates are working to make me better," he said.

"It's just so much easier when you have teammates. You come back from a drive and you can share information. It's easier for me to understand and to prepare for a better race, have more consistent cars throughout the race," he said, pausing for a moment to contrast his experience now with that of his time with the one-car AJ Foyt Racing Team of his legendary grandfather.

For Carpenter, the growth of the team has been an opportunity to learn as well. "Having a third car, especially coming out of the month of May where we had a fourth car with Davey Hamilton, the team has handled it all very well. We always come out ahead when we work together," he said.

"The team has come a long way. The cars are now running up front in a very competitive series, so I definitely feel comfortable now," he added. "I'm getting closer and closer to that first victory."

Like everyone in the stands and at home on the couch, Carpenter and Foyt were taken aback by the beside-the-track altercation between Indy Racing League drivers Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon after the Milwaukee race.

For those who've been out of touch with their television or YouTube, Wheldon moved down on the track as Patrick attempted to pass him on the lower groove at the Milwuakee Mile Sunday evening (June 3rd), forcing her to swerve to avoid contact, spin and recover the car in the grassy infield portion of the oval before making a race-breaking pitstop to repair a broken suspension piece suffered in the incident.

Afterwards Patrick parked her car and pursued Wheldon on foot at race's end, questioning his move on her, with only a shrugged-off acknowledgement and a terse "Don't mess with me" message from the Englishman.

The likelihood of fisticuffs was never real, but the possibility created a humorous mental image of the two slightly built drivers going toe to toe in the ring at The Mile. Or, thinking ahead, in the TMS Victory Lane which played host to Foyt IV's grandfather and Arie Luyendyk in an infamous Texas slugfest of recent memory.

"I put my money on Danica!" said Carpenter, whose had his share of verbal exchanges with other angry drivers, most famously Helio Castroneves of Team Penske.

"This whole thing is both funny, and good," said Carpenter, "in that it attracts more attention to our sport."

For those who are cynical and believe that a punched-up off-track encounter is merely another media creation, something fabricated in the vein of an old-fashioned wrestler's shill touting a make-believe tilt, Carpenter has some inside info to pass along.

"It's real emotion, it's not made up. Dan pinched her off and she went and told him about it," he said, justifying Danica's ire and approach of Wheldon later. "If someone races like that then you need to go talk to them about it. There's conversations like that between drivers all the time, it's just they don't often get put on TV."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Davey Hamilton , Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Dan Wheldon , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter