So I “May” owe A.J. Foyt an apology.
Back during the off season I wrote a column criticizing A.J. Foyt Racing for building a driver development program around unknown 27-year-old Tim Paul. I said it was another random no-name driver with money who Foyt let drive for him, and that he should call me when he was serious about putting together a real team.
Well, I didn’t get a phone call but Takuma Sato rang a bell pretty loudly at Long Beach that his team was to be taken seriously. He drove a flawless race in good equipment and won. It wasn’t an attrition victory, or a fuel-mileage gamble, they beat the field heads up. Add to that they were the highest qualifying Honda at St. Pete and at Barber, where they sat on the front row and is second in the points after the third race of the season it’s pretty clear that they have arrived. Also, it was the first time in Indycar history that a Japanese driver won a race. Also, not for nothing but ABC had a big hospitality presence at Barber Motorsports Park earlier this month.
Beyond that they have hired respected young driver Conor Daly to run their second car in the Indy 500. That says a lot to me about their program. For years Foyt has been making hiring choices that were so far out of the box you wondered if were putting any effort into it or picking drivers via a dart board method.
They seem to answered their questions surrounding their engineering team, and haven’t made regrettable decisions, yet. Still, it was only a year ago where they sent Mike Conway out with of the pits a damaged wing that led to a big crash with Will Power. Tim Paul has been unremarkable. Sato and company have been a contender so far, but an Indycar season can go off the rails so quickly, and there are a lot of miles left to be run.
But yeah, you’ve gotten my attention A.J. you’ve made some good hires and have been running well. Job well done man.