BUSCH: Foyt IV looks forward to fresh start

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BUSCH: Foyt IV looks forward to fresh start

At age 21, A.J. Foyt IV, is ready for a new season of motor racing as the driver of the No. 38 Great Clips Dodge in the NASCAR Busch Series. For the first time in his career, he will not be under the wing of his grandfather, mentor and four-time...

At age 21, A.J. Foyt IV, is ready for a new season of motor racing as the driver of the No. 38 Great Clips Dodge in the NASCAR Busch Series. For the first time in his career, he will not be under the wing of his grandfather, mentor and four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, A.J. Foyt Jr.

A.J.Foyt IV.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
From the age of nine, when he raced junior dragsters, Foyt IV has been schooled by the legend. Racing the final four races of the 2005 Busch season in the Akins Motorsports Great Clips Dodge, he is ready to run the full 35 race 2006 Busch series schedule and compete for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors.

The transition from the IndyCar Series has been a large leap for the young driver. "It is really hard to take the knowledge from the Indy Cars to the Busch Series", Foyt explained recently at Texas Motor Speedway, "they are totally different set up wise."

Learning to communicate with a new team is also a new experience for Foyt, dealing with a crew chief other than his grandfather. "I am really looking forward to a fresh start. I am still young and this is a great opportunity to have a career in NASCAR racing."

Foyt IV, known as Anthony in racing circles, moved to Charlotte from his home in Hockley, Texas at the end of last season. When asked if he stays in contact with his uncle Larry Foyt, another NASCAR driver, Anthony added that now the two are neighbors. "It is great to have him there. I can go to him for advice for anything I need".

Anthony and Larry talked quite a bit during testing at Daytona in January according to Anthony. "He is really a big help and I wish he was going to be there all year", he added.

When asked about not being under his grandfather's shadow this year, Foyt IV said: "You certainly don't want to crash his cars. You don't want to crash anyone's cars but if you crash his cars you just don't see him on Sunday, you see him all week."

He also added he will not feel as much family pressure this season, but that does not mean that there is not any pressure to perform. After winning the Infiniti Pro Series Championship in 2002, Foyt IV was extremely disappointed in his performance in the Indy Racing League. "I really didn't do anything to talk about so I am really looking forward to this fresh start."

Racing for his grandfather had its ups and downs as Foyt IV stated that it was "more ups than downs however". The financial backing and name exposure was a tremendous help in starting his career in racing. The down side was arriving at the race track with the number 14 and the name of Foyt. "It was like having a big bull's eye driving around the race track. It's been that way ever since I was running go-carts. You just take the good with the bad."

When asked about having the famous name in the Busch series and whether people would be gunning for him on the track, he calmly said, "I'm not necessarily saying that but it won't hold them back. Maybe some guys will or won't, I just can't answer that."

Ray Evernham and A.J. Foyt IV.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
"I guess we will find out the first half of the season," he added. Besides the change in racing series, Foyt IV is also training three days a week with a trainer from Evernham Motorsports. "It is not at all easy on you, but it works."

The subject of money came up and he was asked if he was making more money now than when he was driving Indy cars. As he laughed he stated, "I am making a lot more money now!"

On May 25, 2003 on his 19th birthday, he became the youngest driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500 where he finished 18th. Would he be there this May to watch? "I'll be there and hopefully I'll be looking for a ride whether in my grandfather's car or another car. I'll be looking for a ride. I can race there (Lowe's Motor Speedway) on Saturday and Indy on Sunday", he said.

Now that Larry Foyt is engaged, Foyt IV was asked about taking over the "most eligible bachelor status" in the family. As he chuckled, "I don't know about that. I have a girlfriend too so I better watch out!"

He also spoke about how he has to be careful in his behavior on and off the track. "You can't go out and do stupid 21 year old things. You have a lot of people watching you and a lot of sponsors watching also".

In dealing with the time commitments in NASACR compared to the Indy Racing League, Foyt stated, "It is part of the sport. If you are involved you know that you are going to be doing stuff like this. Going from 15 or 16 races a year to 35, I know that I am going to be busier. I think I need all the exposure I can get right now".

On what is his favorite track for the upcoming year, Foyt loves the high speed tracks. He is however, looking forward to the short tracks and doing, "a little beating and banging".

A.J. Foyt IV will find out at Daytona what life is like, not only without his grandfather watching over him deep in the heart of Texas, but also in the fast lane of the NASCAR Busch Series. Only four short years ago he was changing the front right tires for his grandfather's Indy Racing League team. Now the soft-spoken and polite "little Anthony" is all grown up and ready for the challenge of the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series.

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