After "Peewee" as his grandfather calls him, trashed the ...
After "Peewee" as his grandfather calls him, trashed the #14 Conseco Panoz G Force/Toyota he was testing for this weekend's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season-opener Toyota Indy 300 here at Homestead-Miami Speedway, A.J. Foyt Jr. decided to switch horses.
After all, his grandson A.J. IV hadn't really gotten comfortable with the tricky Panoz G Force chassis, which appears to have a small window for what drivers call the "sweet spot" in its settings. The car had bottomed while exiting the pits, tossing Foyt into the outside wall. The same problem occurred for other drivers during the final test on February 17-18 at the 1.549-mile oval.
So this weekend, A.J. IV will be driving a Dallara/Toyota, which arrived at the Midlands, TX shop of A.J. Foyt Enterprises just last Saturday. That meant no time to paint it in Conseco colors, so the 18-year-old will have to be content with carbon fiber with white commercial accents.
"Other teams are running Dallaras," A.J. IV said, "which seem to have more downforce or grip, which is what you want on the short tracks and flat tracks like Homestead."
The Dallara family is "delighted and honored to see the grandson of legend A.J. Foyt driving again with a Dallara chassis," which the youngster utilized to secure last year's inaugural IRL Infiniti Pro Series. "This return to Dallara re-establishes the strong relationship we have with the A.J. Foyt Racing team. We fully intend to make a positive contribution to the development of A.J. Foyt IV's IRL career," Mr. Dallara explained.
"The proof of our solid past and effective cooperation," he continued, "is the Indy 500 win in 1999 (with Kenny Brack at the helm), a victory that we would be delighted to achieve again together. We look forward to celebrating victories with A.J. in the future and we wish A.J. IV continued success in achieving great results."
Of course, should the Foyt squad falter with the #14 Conseco Dallara, there is always the possibility Super Tex will revert to his use of Panoz G. Force. It's not the first time Foyt's team has swapped chassis and probably won't be the last.
Teammate Shigeaki Hattori, on board for the first four of sixteen events on the 2003 calendar, will use the G Force chassis, as his Epson-sponsored #5 car was in the paint shop getting its blue and silver livery when Foyt decided to make the change. Hattori has pleasant memories of the Homestead- Miami circuit, site of his first American victory in the Dayton Indy Lights series in 1998.