6 May 2015
Indy500: AJ Foyt adds Tagliani to three-car line-up
Veteran IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani has secured a late entry for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 courtesy of AJ Foyt Racing.
AJ Foyt Racing has announced that it will expand to a three-car line-up for this year's 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, with the addition of Verizon IndyCar Series veteran Alex Tagliani to the squad.
"“I am really excited and honoured to be part of the AJ Foyt Racing organization because driving for AJ at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something really, really special," said the 41-year-old Canadian on Tuesday. "Having the chance to contribute to the Foyt family legacy at the Speedway is my mission for the month of May."
Since his US open wheel race début at Homestead in 2000, Tagliani has competed in 131 Champ Car World Series races and a further 71 IndyCar events, including six starts in the Indy 500 since his first outing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2009 with Conquest Racing.
Tagliani started on pole position for the race in 2011 with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, but has only finished in the top ten in one occasion - the previous year in 2010 with the short-lived FAZZT Race Team that he co-founded. Since leaving full-time IndyCar competition mid-way through 2013 he's been racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the V8 Supercars championship.
Tagliani's entry in this year's Indy 500 is being supported by Alfe Heat Treating, Inc., the largest commercial aluminium heat treating operation in the United States which is a long-standing associate sponsor of AJ Foyt Enterprises.
The #48 entry will also carry a special black and white livery paying homage to retired former driver Dan Gurney, a veteran of both F1 and NASCAR as well as nine entries in the Indy 500, and a founding team owner in the CART series in 1978.
“My good friend Dan Gurney used to run that number and he's supposed to be back at Indy this year so I thought it would be a great way to honour him. And he had some good runs with that number!” said team owner AJ Foyt.
"I am deeply touched by my old friend and team mate AJ 'Super Tex' Foyt to be honoured in this way and I will be rooting for Alex Tagliani in the #48 with a big smile on my face,” responded the 84-year-old Gurney, who plans to attend the 500 for the first time since the 2011 centennial anniversary of the race.
“It's almost impossible to explain the excitement and pride I feel in being able to be part of one of the most famous race teams in the world," added Ryan Westman, regional sales manager for principal sponsors Al-Fe Heat Treating, Inc.
"The Verizon IndyCar Series, and its great venues, presents our company a wonderful opportunity to develop business relationships, entertain customers and employees that share this common interest, and the Indy 500 is at the top of the list," Westman added.
“One of the most memorable times of my childhood was to attend the Indy 500 time trials and the race with my family,” he recalled. “My brother and I would spend hours standing at the fence line along Gasoline Alley trying to catch a glimpse and photograph of the cars and drivers - AJ Foyt, Al Unser, Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney to name a few."
Tagliani was also keenly aware of the history of the car number and livery, and determined to do them proud when he takes to the track at IMS for the first time on Monday when the track opens for its first full day of official practice for the Indy 500.
"I am thrilled to be part of honouring Dan Gurney by driving a car in his livery. Bringing the Gurney Eagle's vintage look to the new Honda Aero kit car is for sure going to be a crowd pleaser," said Tagliani. "As a new dad, sharing this unique tribute with my family and the Foyt Family is very special. Taking the Dan Gurney #48 Al-Fe Heat Treating machine to Indy's victory circle would be awesome, and we're aiming to do just that.”
Tagliani will be joined at Indianapolis by the two regular drivers for AJ Foyt Racing, Takuma Sato in the #14 and Jack Hawksworth in the #41. It will be the first time that AJ Foyt Racing has fielded three cars in the Indy 500 since 2005, when AJ's son Larry Foyt was still driving.
"Dad has a long tradition of adding extra cars at the speedway, and although we hadn't originally planned on it, when the opportunity came, it made good sense," said Larry, who is now president of AJ Foyt Racing. “It was important to have a driver with the ability and experience of Alex, so adding him to our line-up is a great fit.
"I'm looking forward to see this special livery racing alongside our ABC Supply machines. Al-Fe Heat Treating and the Westmans have been wonderful associates—and friends of the team, and I'd like to thank them for making this third entry a possibility," he added.
Qualifying for the 99th running of the greatest spectacle in motor racing will take place on the weekend of May 16-17, with the race itself taking the green flag the following week on Sunday May 24 at midday local time.
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