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Foyt feels healthy, plans to attend every IndyCar race

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt hopes to attend every IndyCar Series race this season.

And he feels healthy enough to make it happen.

The 81-year-old Foyt was at Daytona International Speedway on Friday to take part in a ceremony to open the renovated track’s center fan entrance. Foyt, NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray and other past champions donated a piece of motorsports history to display in the fan “injector” during Speedweeks.

Foyt donated a Copenhagen driver’s suit. But just being at Daytona – and moving around without assistance – was huge progress for Foyt.

“I’m feeling good,” said Foyt, who had a triple bypass procedure in November 2014 and knee replacement surgery last September. “I kind of stagger a little bit and I’m just now getting to where I can walk again and out of the wheelchair and the walker.

“I made up my mind I wasn’t going to walk with no cane. Every now and then, after I’ve been sitting down, I kind of look like I’m drunk. You don’t realize at 81 years old you’ve got to learn to walk again. Who would have ever told me that, I would have told you you’re crazy. I’m getting there. Every day is a better day for me.”

Foyt missed the first five IndyCar races of 2015 following heart surgery. He missed the final two following knee surgery.

He hopes to make them all this year. Foyt Racing fields IndyCar entries for Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth. Foyt said he expects to field a third car for the Indy 500.

“I hope to go to all of them. I’m planning on it,” he said. “Now, how we’re going to go? That’s something nobody can figure out today.”

As for the Indy 500 in May, the 100th running of the series’ premier event, Foyt has high expectations.

“I hope we win it. We made a lot of changes,” he said. “I think we’ll run pretty good.”

INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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