Good to his word, AJ Foyt announced his 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup driver before the first week of the New Year was out and from his much-discussed shortlist of talent, he opted for third year NWC driver Stacy Compton to pilot his No.14 Pontiac in his third year as a Winston Cup team owner.

With Mark Melling's No.92 team seemingly in its death throws, Stacy Compton will remain on the Winston Cup grid in 2002 after agreeing a one year contract with AJ Foyt to drive the Texan legend's No.14 Conseco sponsored Pontiac for the full 36 race campaign.

Compton will hop into one of NASCAR's most turbulent rides and will be the fifth driver to try and give Foyt some success as a Winston Cup team boss following Mike Bliss, Dick Trickle, Rick Mast and 2001 driver Ron Hornaday. In his second year of NWC competition, Compton matured greatly as a driver after an uncertain rookie campaign, bagging two Bud Pole awards in the Kodiak sponsored Dodge and qualifying on the front row of the Daytona 500. However the 34 year-old former NASCAR Craftsman Truck driver has yet to compliment his qualifying form with the corresponding results and has endured a frustrating two years battling poor reliability.

Foyt's reliability record is hardly shining either but there was a marked improvement by the No.14 team in 2001 that was masked by Hornaday's tendency to overdrive the car which resulted in a misleading 38th place in the overall drivers standings for the former Truck Champion and Winston Cup rookie. Compton finished 33rd in points with a single top ten in the season opener at Daytona.

"I'm extremely excited to work with Team Conseco and a racing legend like AJ Foyt," said Compton who will also undertake a full Busch Grand National Series Championship for ST Motorsports in 2002. "AJ Foyt is a guy that I watched growing up," he continued. "He was one of those drivers in the same class as Petty or Earnhardt, in that you knew when the green flag dropped he was going to be coming and when the chequered flag fell he was going to be there, and it was going to be exciting."

Foyt was more reserved but no less enthused at the prospect of having Compton on board in 2002. "Stacy has certainly shown that he has the ability to be competitive on the Winston Cup level, and I'm pleased that he'll be driving for us this year. More importantly than that, my team is excited about winning with Stacy."

Compton has a major task on his hands if he wishes to be a regular top-15 contender next year as the No.14 team has logged just three top-10 finishes in two full seasons, two with Mast and one with Hornaday. During the second half of last season however, Hornaday became a regular top ten qualifier on short-tracks only to miss out in the races and if the team can maintain that form in addition to improving their Superspeedway programme, where Compton excelled with Melling last year, there is hope that Foyt's workshop may not be quite the explosive backdrop to the race team as it has often been in the past.