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

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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.”

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)