Good Weekend in Alabama Followed by First Test at Indy
By A.J. Foyt
Since it was the first time on the track with this new car, we played it conservative. I mainly wanted to give our driver Mike Conway some seat time because he (and his teammates) had a tough time here last year. He got 65 laps in by the time the session ended which was the second highest total for the day.
None of the cars reached the speeds we ran last year but there’s still time to find more speed in these cars. And if they don’t go as fast as last year’s cars, I think these cars will put on a good race because it looks like they can draft better.
I’m looking forward to coming back in May.
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama turned out to be one of best weekends overall in a long time for my ABC Supply team. We’ve had weekends where we’ve qualified well but haven’t finished or times where we didn’t qualify good but we came home with a good finish. This past weekend we qualified and finished well at a track where we couldn’t do either in the past.
And my driver Mike Conway wasn’t particularly happy where we finished, even though seventh place was his best finish there too. I like the fact that he wasn’t satisfied with the result even if I was.
I thought he drove a great race myself. He qualified fourth and it’s been a while since we made the Firestone Fast Six. Unfortunately, in the race, Mike was forced off the track because of a little scrabble between second and third place James Hinchcliffe and Scott Dixon. Mike got back on track but not before he dropped to seventh.
We fought a handling problem with the softer compound tires in the beginning of the race. We had it with Firestone’s primary (harder compound) tires too but it wasn’t as bad. We kept adjusting on the car and for the final fuel stint, we went against the grain by putting on new primary tires while everyone else went to the softer alternate tires.
If we didn’t have a yellow for seven laps during that final fuel run, I think our move would have looked a little more brilliant than it appeared. In the final five laps, Mike passed Marco Andretti (who had passed him on the final restart) and he was closing in on the pack ahead. He ran out of time but a couple more laps could have made a big difference.
What I liked about the race was just how racy the cars were. Mike came back with a tire rub on his sidepod but the body wasn’t damaged because these cars are stronger than the old Dallaras. Barber Motorsports Park is a beautiful facility but it’s very narrow for Indycars. Usually there isn’t much passing but there was quite a bit of it Sunday afternoon. Since there are so many road and street courses on the schedule, that’s good news for race fans.
One of the highlights of the weekend for me was meeting Bart Starr, the quarterback who took the Green Bay Packers to their first Super Bowl. He won it with a quarterback sneak in the closing seconds of the game! Since he was such a good passer he almost never ran the ball so that took the Dallas Cowboys by surprise. He gave me the inside scoop on that play. I really enjoyed talking with him and meeting his wife Cherry. He’s also a year older than me—and there aren’t too many of those people around me these days!
So all in all, I enjoyed my time in Alabama and I didn’t even get to tell you about this little barbecue place by the track called Rusty’s. Let’s just say it set my diet back a few pounds.