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 thereís still time to find more speed in these cars. And if they donít go as fast as last yearís cars, I think these cars will put on a good race because it looks like they can draft better.
Iím 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. Weíve had weekends where weíve qualified well but havenít finished or times where we didnít qualify good but we came home with a good finish. This past weekend we qualified and finished well at a track where we couldnít do either in the past.
And my driver Mike Conway wasnít particularly happy where we finished, even though seventh place was his best finish there too. I like the fact that he wasnít satisfied with the result even if I was.
I thought he drove a great race myself. He qualified fourth and itís 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 Firestoneís primary (harder compound) tires too but it wasnít 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 didnít 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 wasnít damaged because these cars are stronger than the old Dallaras. Barber Motorsports Park is a beautiful facility but itís very narrow for Indycars. Usually there isnít much passing but there was quite a bit of it Sunday afternoon. Since there are so many road and street courses on the schedule, thatís 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. Heís also a year older than meóand there arenít too many of those people around me these days!
So all in all, I enjoyed my time in Alabama and I didnít even get to tell you about this little barbecue place by the track called Rustyís. Letís just say it set my diet back a few pounds.