FOYT TURNS IN GREAT PERFORMANCE AT DAYTONA
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. February 12, 2005--“It was the best car I have ever driven,” Foyt said. “I really thought I had a shot to win before the troubles started.”
“He drove the race of his life”, said A.J. Foyt of son Larry who competed in ARCA’s Discount Auto Parts 200 Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
Foyt qualified the No. 16 Fulltiltpoker.com Dodge in 12th spot and was running third when he pitted for fuel and tires. He beat the two leaders out of the pits but a slight pit infraction by a crew member who stepped over the pit wall (without a helmet) to pick up a lug nut resulted in a heavy one lap penalty.
Restarting on the inside a lap down, Foyt got his lap back by passing the leaders and maintaining his lead until the next caution (about 14 laps). He went to the back of the field in 32nd spot but on the lead lap. He then sliced his way through the field and was running a strong sixth with two laps to go.
Looking at a top five finish despite the setbacks in the race, Foyt’s luck went from bad to worse. A couple cars ahead of him tangled; Foyt took evasive action and thought he had the accident missed until Todd Kleuver’s car flipped into Foyt’s path and with nowhere to go, Foyt nicked him.
When the dust settled, 13 cars had piled up on the backstretch with several cars getting airborne. Two drivers went to the hospital and 11 to the infield care center. Foyt was uninjured but driver Billy Venturini sustained an injury to his second vertebrae which required hospitalization at Halifax Medical Center. He is expected to make a full recovery.
The race finished under yellow. Foyt was credited with 12th place. Bobby Gerhart won followed by Frank Kimmel and J.J. Yeley.
“Not a single car passed me all night,” said Foyt afterwards. “If they hadn’t shortened the race by 15 laps, I think I had a shot to win even with the penalty. The car was working great. I felt bad for my crew because they had given me a great stop and one guy just put one foot over the wall but wasn’t wearing a helmet, which is against the rules. He felt awful. It seemed like a tough call but we didn’t let it get us down. We were hauling to get back to the front. I’m disappointed with the way things turned out but it was a lot of fun up to the end. Afterwards, a lot of guys in the Cup garage congratulated me which made me feel good.”
There were several accidents before the Big One. One driver got airborne and came down on top of the wall exiting the tri-oval on lap 24. The race had to be red-flagged for nearly 40 minutes as repairs were made (to the wall and safety wires) causing the race to be shortened.
During the caution, rookie Blake Feese overshot his pit, entered an opening in the pit road wall hitting four photographers, one of whom was taken to the hospital and later released. No one was seriously injured. Another accident came 16 laps later sending five drivers to the infield care center with none seriously injured.
Foyt is remaining in Florida for Speedweeks although he has no plans to compete at this time.