For the first time since he began competing in the IndyCar Series in 2003, someone other than A.J. Foyt IV will drive the #14 car owned by his grandfather AJ Foyt.
Jeff Bucknum, who earlier this season competed in two oval races for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, will replace Foyt in the #14 ABC Supply Co. Dallara-Chevrolet in the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway this weekend.
Foyt will return to the seat for the race at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway oval on September 11th.
"We didn't test with Anthony at Infineon at the IRL Open Test in April, and I decided it wouldn't be fair to run him since everyone else has tested there," team owner A.J. Foyt said. "It's a tricky course, especially running the (2.26-mile, 12-turn) long course. I think it'd be even harder for him than St. Pete where we struggled.
"Jeff Bucknum called last week offering to help Anthony out there. But I decided it would make more sense to put Jeff in the car. Jeff's familiar with the course, he's run there quite a bit in smaller cars and was an instructor there for a couple years. Also, he did a half-day in a Dreyer & Reinbold car at the test there in April and impressed them.
“I'm looking forward to having him drive for me this weekend. I knew his daddy (Ronnie Bucknum) way back when, and I never thought his son would be driving for me. It's a small world."
Foyt would have been Bucknum's teammate in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, but Foyt was seriously burned in an Indy-style practice the week before at Milwaukee. Dick Hutcherson was called to team with Bucknum and they finished third. Bucknum was the first Honda factory driver in Formula One and competed in three Indianapolis 500s. He died on April 25th 1992, the year before his son drove in his first amateur race at the then-Sears Point International Raceway (Infineon).
"I'm pretty excited to be driving the 14 car for A.J.," Bucknum said. "It feels like things have come full circle for my family because my dad and A.J. raced together in the '60s. When I told my mom that I was driving for A.J., I think it brought back so many memories of my dad that it brought a tear to her eye and became really special for her, too.
"As far as driving at Infineon, my first-ever racing experience was the Skip Barber School there. I've driven quite a few races at Infineon so I'm real familiar with the track. With my knowledge of the track and A.J.'s experience in setting up Indy cars, I think we'll be able to get a good balance on the car and ultimately have a good weekend."
A.J. Foyt IV said he broached the idea of a replacement driver about a month ago.
"At first he said no, but then I think he thought about it," said Foyt, 21. "He didn't say anything about it until we came home from Colorado (21st-place finish in the Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway). I'm actually relieved because it would have been hard to be competitive, I've never even seen the track. I'll learn a lot by watching and hearing the feedback between Jeff and the crew."