Fourth Turn – AJ Foyt

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a leader in making sure that racing fans remember the legends of the sport. So it is this year that the Speedway is recognizing AJ Foyt?s fifty years of competition here at IMS.

Foyt, the 500?s first four-time winner, retired from open-wheel competition in 1993, but won the race once more as a car-owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack in the cockpit.

So in his Golden Anniversary at the Hoosier track, with an Englishman and a driver with royal Indy blood on his team, the 72 year-old Foyt has forged another success story by putting two entries in the field within 30 minutes on Sunday.

Darren Manning, the Brit, and Al Unser Jr., of the royal Unser line, are both safely in the 91st running, with ABC Supply Co. of Beloit, WI funding the Foyt team?s effort.

And with AJ giving up some of the day-to-day duties of the team to his grandson Larry, the team has begun to move toward the front in the competitive world of the IRL.

?It?s a real honor. I?m so proud to drive the #50 car representing his fiftieth year at the Speedway. I?m told that I?m also his fiftieth driver,? said Unser who hasn?t driven an IRL car for a year due mostly to personal problems. ?AJ?s been real patient with me while I?ve been working to get up to speed.?

Unser, who knows of Foyt?s rather cantankerous disposition, knew what it would be like working with the legendary Texan. ? Everything you?ve heard about AJ?s temper ain?t true. I have been watching my P?s and Q?s, but I had a pre-notion of what I was getting into because I drove for him in the Daytona 24-hour race when I was younger.?

Manning, who says that he hasn?t been around Foyt long enough to tell any good stories, has been away from Indy racing for a year after two seasons spent with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. ?I wasn?t excited about having to get up and do qualifying again on the second day,? complained Manning after failing to go quick enough on Saturday to make that day?s fast eleven. ?We were really desperately trying to get into the show (on Saturday), and we just barely missed out.

?We didn?t get out until late, because this is a brand-new car. It?s a fast car. We spent a lot of time back at the shop for two or three months really rubbing on the bodywork, the fit of the suspension and everything, which is the attention to detail that you have to have these days to compete.?

And when asked to talk about his time spent in the Foyt shops, all he could say was, ?It?s pretty interesting, to say the least. They eat at places I wouldn?t. I was looking for some Yorkshire pudding.?

To make the fiftieth anniversary celebration complete, AJ IV, AJ?s grandson made the field in Tony George?s Vision Racing entry. ? It?s a thrill to have come back and made the race in my grandfather?s fiftieth year here.,? he said.

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