DiZinno: Foyt’s youth movement a test case for youth-only lineup

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At 81 years old, A.J. Foyt is the oldest team owner in the Verizon IndyCar Series, and a living legend as one of the greatest drivers of all-time having won four Indianapolis 500s among everything else he’s achieved in his career.

Yet A.J. – who is the definition of “old school” – is for the first time shifting to a truly new school, and new generation outlook with his team’s driver lineup for 2017 and perhaps beyond.

In Larry Foyt, A.J.’s adopted son/grandson and the A.J. Foyt Enterprises team president and new full-time signings Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly, the three combined are only 87 years old – so it speaks to a major youth movement for the trajectory of a team that has rarely progressed beyond the stacked midfield in IndyCar for the last decade and a half.

Larry Foyt is only 39, and represents the next generation of leadership for the Foyt team to carry the torch for years to come.

In Munoz and Daly, the Foyt team has hired a pair of talented 24-year-old drivers who are already somewhat high on IndyCar experience, yet still have plenty of room to grow.

Pretty much every other team on the grid beyond Foyt has gone for the more conventional mix of at least one north-of-30 veteran, if not more, to pair with a young gun.

That’s represented in the fact that of all other multi-car teams on the grid, the average age of their two drivers is no less than 29 years old (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, with both James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin 29) and as high as 36 years old (Chip Ganassi Racing, excluding the as-yet-unsigned Max Chilton; a Chilton 2017 confirmation would bring team average age down to a still-high 33.25, same as Team Penske).

But no team has really gone for a youth-youth pairing in years, and in Munoz and Daly, Foyt is gambling that youthful exuberance will win out over veteran experience. With a driver such as an Oriol Servia available, Foyt instead opted to pair Munoz for his fourth year with Daly for his sophomore campaign, although both also have driven parts of other seasons.

This represents the first team to make the adjustment to a youth-youth lineup in IndyCar, which stands in direct contrast to Formula 1, where a pair of youngsters generally are perceived as the way to go.

This season, it’s fair to say more than half the F1 grid has gone that route. All of Red Bull (Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen), Toro Rosso (Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat), Force India (Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez) Renault (Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer), Manor (Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon) and Sauber (Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr) have lineups where both drivers are under 30. It’s teams like McLaren – which has 35-year-old Fernando Alonso and 36-year-old Jenson Button – where relatively older age is the outlier.

Both series have limited testing regulations. But whereas F1 seems to see more young drivers enter the series, either via a mix of manufacturer or personal backing, it’s become harder in IndyCar to enter, and even harder still to stick – this despite what many consider a superior ladder system in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, which provides a clear, linear path to IndyCar at a fraction of the European cost.

IndyCar team owners are less inclined to take chances on younger drivers, and instead go for more tried-and-true solutions. It’s no knock on Ryan Briscoe, for example, that Briscoe continued to get rides the last four or five years after his Team Penske IndyCar stint ended after 2012, as that spoke to his feedback and chemistry he brought to a team. But to outsiders, they look at a guy like Briscoe getting a fourth or fifth chance in IndyCar and ask, “Again?” or something of that ilk.

cdalyDaly saw firsthand the direction in Europe where F1 teams were looking, and they were always looking for that “next big talent” of a younger age, not a more senior driver. He’d like to see more IndyCar teams beyond Foyt do the same.

“I’m excited to try and push and make sure that we as a group of young folks can prove to the other team owners that, Hey, we can do it,” Daly said today in a conference call. “There’s a reason Formula 1 teams are hiring 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds. It’s because they can do it. It’s the will to really push absolutely at the limit.”

“I think, you know, Larry and A.J., they’re embracing the future,” he added. “That’s one thing that I really want to see even more teams do. I believe there are a lot of other young drivers out there, as well, who deserve to be in full-time. I’m happy that we’ve got this opportunity, Carlos and I, at the Foyt Racing team. I think we are absolutely going to push each other.

“We want to win so badly. I haven’t experienced it. Carlos has. Carlos has won. It’s one of those things, I just think we are genuinely more hungry. We have to be more hungry to win because we haven’t experienced it yet, or as much as the veterans. They know what it’s like.

“We’re pushing at the absolute limit and even over the limit just to be perfect and try to get better, try and get better to take advantage of this situation.

“It’s not easy to get a seat in IndyCar. It’s not guaranteed for a long time. So we know we have to do our best every time out there. We’re both going to learn from each other. We can only get better together. I think that’s really encouraging for us as we move forward.”

cmunozMunoz, who’s matured and developed over five years in North America with Andretti Autosport, said IndyCar needs that next generation of drivers to blossom.

“I think the new generation is coming. Like Tony (Kanaan), Helio (Castroneves) that are getting, you know, close to retirement, even though they’re still really competitive. I think IndyCar needs a new generation,” Munoz said.

“I signed with Larry. I know, because I was in Houston the whole time, a lot of, lot of drivers calling him the whole days. He asked me which one of those I have on my list I would like to be on the team. I say, Conor, he’s a really young driver, he’s American, really talented, really good his first season, and I think we going to push each other a lot. I have a good experience. He’s really fast, as well. He can be really fast in all kind of tracks. I think we can work really well together. We also raced in Europe, so that helps us a lot.”

Daly and Munoz are but two of the crop of talented youngsters who’ve either been on or in IndyCar’s doorstep the last few years, and been fortunate enough to stick.

The list of those who are still on the outside looking in is long, tortuous, and often filled with frustration. Sage Karam, Gabby Chaves, Spencer Pigot, RC Enerson, Matthew Brabham and Stefan Wilson are those who raced just this year but who don’t have any set 2017 IndyCar plans.

Where Daly and Munoz will have the opportunity to grow most this year is by pushing themselves against each other to drive the team forward, and resisting the urge to let the other one beating them stick in their head. There will be some races where Munoz beats Daly, and vice versa. Conflict would only figure to come if one gains a distinct upper hand in the early races of the season and say gets in the other one’s head.

By each of them taking what the other has as one of their strong points – whether it’s oval ability or fuel saving – while also meshing with the new team environment at Foyt, they can succeed.

However, because of their youth, they’ll also be under the microscope. That innate competitive desire to beat the other one must not detract from the overall goal of doing the best they can for Foyt, for ABC Supply Co., and for their manufacturer.

Think of it this way: it would be best if Daly and Munoz are the Red Bull F1 pair equivalent of IndyCar, where much like Verstappen and Ricciardo, their pushing each other with a great car only has served to drive the team forward.

If they’re closer in form to Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, two young but relatively unproven talents in F1 (Magnussen has proven a bit more), who scrapped and scratched for results at Renault but have ultimately made mistakes, it could turn sour quickly. Magnussen eventually left the team for Haas F1 and Palmer only stayed for a second year because it seemed no one else really wanted the seat. Such a similar situation here wouldn’t help the cause of them trying to prove IndyCar team owners should take a shot on two young guns at the same time.

But the Foyts have given them that chance. And with a field comprised mainly of veterans with only one or two young guns in a team, it’s great to see a gamble that youth-only will prevail.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Seattle


The final results from the Monster Energy Supercross race in Seattle suggests the season is turning into a two-rider battle as Eli Tomac scored his sixth win of the season to tie Cooper Webb for the points’ lead and Chase Sexton crashed in yet another race.

Tomac downplayed the neck strain that caused him to lose the red plate for two weeks, but without that holding him back, it would appear it might have been a bigger problem than he admitted. Despite finishing on the podium in Detroit, Tomac has not shown the late-race strength everyone has come to expect. He was in a slump after scoring a season-worst in Indianapolis and described his sixth win as a “bounce back”.

With this win, Tomac tied James Stewart for second on the all-time list with 50 career Supercross victories. Six rounds remain and there is no sign that Tomac is slowing down. Jeremy McGrath’s 72 wins remains untouchable, for the moment at least.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Overall Results; Click here for 250 Overall Results

Cooper Webb was disappointed with second-place, but he recognized the Supercross results at Seattle could have been much worse. He rode in fifth for the first nine laps of the race, behind Tomac and Sexton. When Sexton crashed from the lead and Tomac took the top spot, Webb knew he could not afford to give up that many points and so he dug deep and found enough points to share the red plate when the series returns in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona for a Triple Crown event.

Justin Barcia scored his third podium of the season, breaking out of a threeway tie of riders who have not been the presumed favorites to win the championship. Barcia scored the podium without drama or controversy. It was his fourth consecutive top-five and his 10th straight finish of eighth or better.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Jason Anderson kept his perfect record of top-10s alive with a fourth-place finish. Tied for fourth in the standings and 49 out of the lead, his season has been like a death of a thousand cuts. He’s ridden exceptionally well, but the Big Three have simply been better.

Sexton rebounded from his fall to finish fifth. He entered the race 17 points out of the lead and lost another five in Seattle. Mistakes have cost Sexton 22 points in the last three races and that is precisely how far he is behind Tomac and Webb. Unless those two riders bobble, this deficit cannot overcome.

The rider who ties Anderson for fourth in the points, Ken Roczen finished just outside the top five in sixth after he battled for a podium position early in the race.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

The 250 West riders got back in action after four rounds of sitting on the sideline and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left of: in Victory Lane. Lawrence now has four wins and a second-place finish in five rounds. One simply doesn’t get close to perfection than that.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but two races though 11 rounds. Jett failed to win the Anaheim Triple Crown and Hunter Lawrence failed to win the Arlington Triple Crown format in the 250 East division. In two weeks, the series has their final Triple Crown race in Glendale. When he was reminded of this from the top of the Seattle podium, Jett replied, “oof”.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

RJ Hampshire finished second in the race and is second in the points. This is fourth time in five rounds that Hampshire finished second to Lawrence. If not for a crash-induced 11th-place finish in the Arlington Triple Crown, he would be much closer in the points standings. With that poor showing, he is 23 points behind Lawrence.

Cameron McAdoo made a lot of noise in his heat. Riding aggressively beside Larwence, the two crashed in the preliminary. McAdoo could never seem to get away from Hampshire in the Main and as the two battled, the leader got away. It would have been interesting to see how they would have raced head-to-head when points were on the line.

Click here for 250 Overall results | 250 West Rider Points | 250 Combined Rider Points

The Supercross results in Seattle were kind to a couple of riders on the cusp of the top five. Enzo Lopes scored his second top-five and fourth top-10 of the season after crossing the finish line fourth in Seattle.

Tying his best finish of the season for the third time, Max Vohland kept his perfect record of top-10s alive. Vohland is seventh in the points.

2023 Results

Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Tomac, H Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Tomac, J Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, J Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 10: Chase Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Cooper Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s