PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Foyt making plans to field car for youngest son in 2000 INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 14, 1999 -- There will be a Foyt driving an Indy Racing car in 2000. Larry Foyt, A.J. Foyt's youngest son, is being...
PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Foyt making plans to field car for youngest son in 2000
INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 14, 1999 -- There will be a Foyt driving an Indy Racing car in 2000. Larry Foyt, A.J. Foyt's youngest son, is being groomed to make his Pep Boys Indy Racing League debut sometime next season. But the first priority is for him to complete work on his degree at Texas Christian University. The younger Foyt will be 23 next Feb. 22. He has raced the full season in the U.S. F2000 series this season after competing in the oval portion of that series the previous two years. Before that, he drove 125cc shifter karts for two years. "We want to test all winter and have him race when he's ready," said Tommy LaMance, A.J.'s nephew and team manager for A.J. Foyt Racing. "Now our goal is to get him a lot of miles this winter." Larry Foyt tested a Pep Boys Indy Racing League car in mid-summer at Pikes Peak International Raceway. A.J. Foyt decided to skip on a follow-up test session at Texas Motor Speedway, site of Sunday's Pep Boys Indy Racing League season finale, the Mall.com 500. "We want him to have all the opportunity in the world," LaMance said. "He graduates in May. School is No. 1." When Larry Foyt makes his first start in an Indy Racing car, it will be one of the most pressurized major racing debuts in history. His adoptive father became the first four-time winner of the Indy 500, drove in it 35 times and won a record 67 championship races in a career that stretched from 1957 until he announced his retirement on Pole Day at Indy in 1993. A.J., who turns 65 on Jan. 16, has continued as a car owner. His driver Scott Sharp shared the first Indy Racing League season championship, while current driver Kenny Brack won this year's Indianapolis 500 and is in position to capture his second straight title this weekend at TMS. Meanwhile, LaMance is planning to spend a lot of the winter in North Carolina setting up A.J.'s new NASCAR Winston Cup team. "Next year I'll still be with the IRL," LaMance said. "The off weekends I'll spend in North Carolina."
High visibility: It will be impossible to miss the six contenders for the Pep Boys Indy Racing League title this weekend during the Mall.com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, thanks to new high-visibility additions to the paint scheme on each driver's car.
The six contenders are Greg Ray, Kenny Brack, Sam Schmidt, Scott Sharp, Scott Goodyear and Buddy Lazier.
Each of their cars will feature fluorescent orange paint on the Fan Fin on the engine cover and the end plates of the wings. The numbers on their cars will be white in a fluorescent-orange box. The box will be outlined in black, and the number will be outlined in black. All other drivers will continue to carry the league-standard black numbers in a white box.
Women in racing: Sarah Fisher will join an exclusive group of women who have competed in an Indy-style race when she qualifies and lines up for the start of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League Mall.com 500 this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Fisher will become only the fifth female to take the green flag in a major North American open-wheel race. Janet Guthrie, of course, broke the gender barrier by participating in the 1976 Indy 500. Driving for Rolla Vollstedt, she failed to qualify that year, but returned to drive in the next three Indy 500's, with a best finish of ninth in 1978. Arlene Hiss, then wife of 1972 Indy 500 rookie of the year Mike Hiss, drove in an Indy-style race at Phoenix, and Desire Wilson competed in eight races in 1983, placing 10th in the extreme heat at Cleveland. Lyn St. James has been the only female to drive in the 1990s. She qualified for six straight Indy 500s and tried in the last two but didn't make the field. Fisher attended St. James driving school for women.
Slow starts: After the first two races of the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season, the odds were against Greg Ray, Kenny Brack and Sam Schmidt of challenging for the championship. There were 19 drivers with more points following races at Walt Disney World Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. In fact, if all of Ray, Brack and Schmidt's points were combined, it would have put them collectively only in fourth place. Schmidt had the most points with 25 after finishes of 27th and ninth. Ray earned only 23 points on a pair of 21st-place finishes, while defending champion Brack managed just 14 points with 22nd- and 24th-place finishes. At that point Scott Goodyear led with 93 points. What a difference six months makes. Ray leads with 255 points, Brack is second at 242 and Schmidt third at 225 entering the season-ending Mall.com 500 this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Doug Didero, who makes his Pep Boys Indy Racing League debut in the Mall.com 500 Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, has driven in four USAC Silver Bullet races in each of the past two seasons. And each time his best finish came at Indianapolis Raceway Park. In 1998, he drove to sixth place at IRP and won the Turbines Inc. rookie award. He finished 33rd in points. This year he is 34th in the standings, with his best finish a ninth at IRP. He has been driving for Joe Conroy of Brunswick, Ohio. Ontario native Didero, 39, native lives in Mooresville, N.C.
Almost at $4 million: Buddy Lazier, 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion, is close to becoming the first driver to win $4 million in Pep Boys Indy Racing League competition. Entering Sunday's Mall.com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Lazier has won $3,838,704 in 32 races. A win at Texas would put him in position to become the first $4-million man in the 2000 season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 22. Next in line behind Lazier are: 2. Arie Luyendyk (now retired), $3,596,103; 3. Eddie Cheever, $3,459,453; 4. Kenny Brack, $3,413,103, and 5. Davey Hamilton, $2,497,303. The first four all have won the Indy 500. This season Brack leads in race winnings with $1,898,040, followed by Jeff Ward, $949,650; Greg Ray, $894,150; Billy Boat, $802,900; and Scott Goodyear, $758,250.
Keeping pace: Greg Ray needs to lead 33 laps in the Mall.com 500 this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway to assure the laps-led category title stays in the Team Menard stable for the third straight year. Ray has led 408 laps this season, which puts him 143 in front of runner-up Scott Goodyear. Thirty-three more front-running laps (of 208) would give Ray 441 for the season. If Goodyear would lead the other 175 it would put his total at 440. Tony Stewart took that title the previous two seasons driving the same Glidden-Menards entry. In 1996-97, Stewart, now driving on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, led 812 laps and followed with 598 last year. Stewart led 92 laps in the inaugural three-race series of 1996. That brings the total laps led for the two drivers in the Menard car to 1,910. Incidentally, Buzz Calkins led the most laps (as well as winning the first race) in 1996 with 130 laps. Oddly, Calkins hasn't led a lap this season but is most the consistent finisher in the league with 1,721 laps completed.
Dream trip: Chad Johnson, 13, will enjoy the trip of a lifetime this weekend at the Mall.com 500 as he will be the guest of Texas Motor Speedway for the season-ending Pep Boys Indy Racing League event. Chad, from Great Bend, Kan., was stricken in June with transverse myelitis, a rare condition that caused paralysis. It is the same illness that struck Cody Unser, daughter of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., earlier this year. Chad and his family will visit the garage area and then watch the race Oct. 17. Extensive therapy is helping Chad recover from the illness, as he began walking again recently. *** Hot laps: Truscelli Team Racing recently announced that it has signed a contract with Klein Engines of Tempe, Ariz., to build its Aurora V8 engines for the 2000 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season. Team Truscelli has used Klein Engines this year in its successful rookie season of Indy Racing ... Tristarmall.com, the primary sponsor of the Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear driven by Robbie Buhl, will award an all-expenses paid trip as a Tri Star Motorsports pit crew member at the 2000 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway to a lucky fan. Fans can enter at tristarmall.com, an online mall with nearly 100 merchants ... Fans can send questions to Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Scott Sharp through Indy Racing Online at http://www.indyracingleague.com . Sharp will answer the questions soon.