Alex Tagliani to drive 3rd AJ Foyt car in Indy 500, will pay tribute to Dan Gurney

4 Comments

AJ Foyt’s No. 48 Honda-powered Dallara will have history written all over it in this year’s Indianapolis 500.

As the IndyCar world prepares for the 99th running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, Foyt will honor and offer a special tribute to fellow racing veteran and lifelong friend, Dan Gurney.

Gurney and Foyt co-piloted the Ford GT 40 Mk IV car to victory in the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1967.

Gurney then went on to take his black and bright white No. 48 car to second-place finishes in both the 1968 and 1969 Indianapolis 500 (the 48 in this year’s 500 will have a similar paint scheme and look to it).

“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 honor him,” Foyt said in a media release. “And he had some good runs with that number.”

Gurney, who turned 84 on April 13, is one of the most versatile and winning drivers in all motorsports:

* In Formula One, he earned four wins, 19 podium appearances and three poles in 86 career starts.

* In NASCAR, Gurney took part in 16 races, earning five wins, 10 top-10 finishes and three poles.

* In USAC, he won 7 races, had 17 top-five finishes and 10 poles in 28 starts.

“I am deeply touched by my old friend and teammate AJ “Super Tex” Foyt to be honored in this way,” Gurney said in a statement.

source:
Dan Gurney, left, and AJ Foyt, who will pay tribute to Gurney’s illustrious racing career by featuring it on the No. 48 car in this month’s Indianapolis 500. (Photo courtesy AJ Foyt Racing)

Veteran driver and 2011 Indy 500 pole sitter Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 48, which will be sponsored by Al-Fe Heat Treating.

“Driving for AJ at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something really, really special,” Tagliani said. “Having the chance to contribute to the Foyt family legacy at the Speedway is my mission for the month of May.

“I am thrilled to be part of honoring 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. … Taking the Dan Gurney No. 48 Al-Fe Heat treating machine to Indy’s victory circle would be awesome, and we’re aiming to do just that.”

Added Gurney, who owned the No. 48 Jorgensen Eagle that Bobby Unser won the 1975 Indy 500 in, “I will be rooting for Alex Tagliani in 48 with a big smile on my face.”

A veteran of over 200 IndyCar race starts, this will be Tagliani’s seventh career Indy 500. His best finish was 10th in 2010. In last year’s race, while driving for Sarah Fisher Racing, Tagliani, 41, finished 13th.

source:
The No. 48 car itself. Photo: A.J. Foyt Racing

The 48 will be one of three cars to be campaigned in the May 24 by AJ Foyt Racing, the first time the team has run three cars in the 500 since 2005. The other two cars that will be carrying the AFR banner will be the No. 14 piloted by Takuma Sato and the No. 41 driven by Jack Hawksworth.

“Dad has a long tradition of adding extra cars at the speedway,” said Larry Foyt, AJ’s son and president of AJ Foyt Racing. “Although we hadn’t originally planned on it, when the opportunity came, it made good sense.

“It was important to have a driver with the ability and experience of Alex, so adding him to our lineup is a great fit.”

Tagliani will take his first laps in the 48 on Monday, May 11, when Indianapolis Motor Speedway opens for its first full day of practice for the Indy 500. Qualifying will take place May 16 and 17.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

IndyCar.com
Leave a comment

Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”