Monday, April 26, 2004
Updated: April 29, 9:12 PM ET
Larry Foyt participates in rookie orientation
INDIANAPOLIS -- Larry Foyt's emotions were running in
The youngest son of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt
took the wheel of an Indy car at the Speedway for the first time
Monday and couldn't contain his excitement.
"It's everything I thought it would be," he said. "This place
is obviously so special. I've been here every year of my life, and
this is just the coolest day of my life. It's amazing."
The 26-year-old Foyt took part in the annual Rookie Orientation
Program in anticipation of a possible ride next month with his
father's team, which also includes second-year driver A.J. Foyt IV,
his nephew and A.J.'s grandson.
Other rookies included Ed Carpenter, the stepson of Speedway
president Tony George, last year's Infiniti Pro Series champion
Mark Taylor of England, Kosuke Matsuura of Japan, Luis Diaz of
Mexico and Marty Roth of Canada. Larry Foyt took part even though
he was exempt from the mandatory rookie program because of his
experience in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series.
"I was real impressed with how well the car handled," he said
of the Dallara-Toyota. "I was just out there trying to get laps
and get out of that stock car line here. We run quite a different
line in the stock car than you run in the Indy car."
Foyt was 32nd as a NASCAR rookie in the Brickyard 400 and 41st
in the series points last year, when he qualified for only 20
races. This year, driving only a partial schedule, he dropped to
44th in the standings after his father's Dodge was impounded and
penalized by NASCAR for not meeting specifications at Bristol last
The elder Foyt has not decided whether to add Larry to his IRL
operation at Indianapolis.
"I'm going to talk to him a little bit in private," A.J. said.
"I think he really enjoys it because of the way we've been getting
screwed around back yonder (in NASCAR). He hasn't had no breaks
down there. ... It's all politics."
Larry Foyt drove 59 laps Monday and had a top speed of 210.013
mph as the rookie drivers worked up speeds in four 10-lap phases
starting at 195 mph. Jeff Simmons, who drives in the Infiniti
series, the IRL's developmental program, also practiced in Foyt's
car and had a top speed of 212.261.
"I was pretty happy," the younger Foyt said. "My dad didn't
want me to push the speed too much. I could have gone faster, but I
think that was plenty fast for what we wanted to do today. This
whole time, I haven't been that nervous. As soon as I went out and
got up to speed, everything seemed really good. Today was great,
because there was no pressure."
Carpenter, who won the inaugural Freedom 100 Infiniti race last
year, was one of the four who completed all four phases of the
rookie tests Monday and had the top overall speed of the day at
215.584 mph. The other three were Matsuura, who had a fast lap at
214.322; Taylor, at 212.920; and Diaz, at 210.498.
Those four, along with Foyt and other veteran drivers, may
participate Wednesday and Thursday in open tests at the track.
Simmons and Roth, who completed three of the four rookie phases
Monday, may finish their tests on May 9, the first full day of
practice for the May 30 race.
The IRL advisers who are tutoring the rookie drivers this week
include former Indy winners Al Unser, Rick Mears and Johnny
"You just can't beat that," Larry Foyt said. "You've got so
much experience to draw from.
"I still really like racing NASCAR, and I'm real happy there,"
he added. "I had a lot of fun today -- I wasn't planning on having
that much fun -- but I still think right now I'd like to have a home
in NASCAR full-time. I sure would love to run the double, too."
If nothing else, Foyt figures his relationship with the boss
might carry some weight.
"He knows I drive for pretty cheap, so maybe I'll get the
| ||Larry Foyt|