A.J. FOYT HIRES AL UNSER, JR. TO DRIVE IN THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 HOUSTON (May 2, 2007)--A.J. Foyt has hired two-time Indianapolis 500 Mile champion Al Unser, Jr. to drive in this year's Indy 500 as a teammate to Darren Manning who drives the No....
A.J. FOYT HIRES AL UNSER, JR. TO DRIVE IN THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
HOUSTON (May 2, 2007)--A.J. Foyt has hired two-time Indianapolis 500 Mile champion Al Unser, Jr. to drive in this year's Indy 500 as a teammate to Darren Manning who drives the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda in the IndyCar Series.
Starting Tuesday, Unser, Jr. will drive Foyt's Dallara/Honda No.50, in recognition of Foyt's 50th anniversary in Indy car racing. The race will be Foyt's 50th straight Indy 500 as a participant and first with the number 50 on one of his cars. Unser, Jr. becomes the 50th different driver to run for Foyt since Foyt began owning his cars in 1965.
"It's a real honor to be driving for A.J., especially during his 50th anniversary season, and especially at Indy," said Unser. "A.J. has so much history at the Speedway, and the Unsers are a part of that history. A.J. played a big role in getting my dad started at Indy in '65 so when A.J. called me to drive for him, I felt honored and very proud."
Foyt's respect for Unser, Jr.'s ability runs deep.
"Al, Jr. is a really talented driver whose experience will bring a lot of good things to our team this month," said Foyt. "I'm looking forward to working with him at Indy. We've stepped up our IndyCar program overall this year in a lot of ways. Hiring a veteran like Al, Jr., who has won at the Speedway and knows it so well, will help our regular driver Darren because it's been a couple years since he's run there. I think this is our best chance at Indy since we won it in '99."
Unser, Jr., who turned 45 on April 19th, will be making his 19th start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He ran his first 500 in 1983, when he qualified fifth but ran out of fuel and finished tenth.
In the past 18 starts at the Speedway, Unser, Jr. recorded seven top-five finishes and ten top-10s. He won the race while driving for Rick Galles in 1992 and for Roger Penske in 1994. He almost won it in 1989 for Galles when battling Emerson Fittipaldi for the checkered. The two touched wheels going through turn three, sending Unser to the wall and Fittipaldi to victory lane.
Previously, the only time an Unser drove for Foyt at Indy was in 1965 when Al Unser made his debut: he finished ninth after starting 32nd having qualified on Bump Day. He won the race for the fourth time in 1987 driving for Penske; he tied with Foyt, becoming the second driver to win four Indy 500s.
When his father began racing at Indy in 1965, Al, Jr. was just three years old and not destined to start his career for another six years.
That career boasts three victories in the IRL IndyCar Series (2000, 2001, 2003) and 34 IndyCar career triumphs overall, two CART Indy Car championships (1990, 1994), as well as titles in the International Race of Champions (1986, 1988), Can-Am Series (1982) and the Super-Vees (1981). He won the Rolex 24 at Daytona twice (1986, 1987).
Unser began his career in grassroots open wheel races, driving sprint cars as a high school teenager, including the World of Outlaws. Ironically, 26 of Unser's 34 Indy Car victories came on the street and road courses.
-credit: foyt racing