A.J. Foyt to miss final two races of IndyCar season


A.J. Foyt won’t be making the trip to either Pocono or Sonoma, the last two races of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

The 80-year-old, four-time Indianapolis 500 champion and team principal of A.J. Foyt Enterprises is recovering from surgery, which he had on August 10 due to a staph infection in his right artificial knee (the January, 2012 infection was in his left artificial knee). The prosthesis was removed, and in its place an antibiotic-infused cement spacer was inserted to aid in clearing up the infection.

Once his doctors are satisfied that the infection has cleared (about six weeks), Foyt will undergo another surgery to have a new artificial knee implanted, which will require an additional six weeks of recovery time.

“Well this is one of the worst things I’ve gone through in my life,” Foyt said in a statement, via the team’s pre-race release.

“Knowing I have five or six weeks dealing with this and then having to get operated on again to take the spacer out and put in a new knee. This staph infection, it’s the second time I’ve had it and it’s really beat me down. I don’t know if I’ll ever be like I used to be but I’m sure hoping, so I’m fighting awful hard.”

Foyt’s drivers, Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth, head into this weekend’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono – a home race for their sponsor – 14th and 17th in points. ABC Supply will have more than 1,300 guests on hand for the race.

Hawksworth didn’t start last year after he was injured in a heavy accident in practice, then driving for Bryan Herta Autosport.

“Last year’s accident was a combination of a few things, pushing a little hard on cold tires and being a little aggressive in terms of car setup to try to dial it in for qualifying,” Hawksworth said in the release. “We had a limited amount of track time that weekend and with no testing leading up to the event, I think it pushed us into a tricky situation. That’s racing sometimes!

“Honestly, I’m really hoping for some redemption at Pocono this year. The accident wasn’t fun but it’s a long time ago now and it would be great to firmly wipe that one from memory with a good run this year.”

Sato has qualified well the last two years at Pocono, seventh and fourth, but has yet to finish a race there.

“Turn 1 and 3 are very different corners as one has a big banking and the other has no banking which made the balance of the car quite different so we work to get closer on balance between these two and seem to be succeeding at that,” Sato said in the release.

“Since we have a very good chassis setup here, I believe we should be strong even with the new aerokit. Particularly since the configuration of the aerokit is the version that we run well with this year.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.