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A.J. Foyt named grand marshal of this weekend’s air race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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A.J. Foyt spent decades flying around racetracks across the U.S. as a driver.

Now, the legendary 83-year-old Foyt – the first of three drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times – will once again be overseeing flying of a different kind around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Foyt on Tuesday was named grand marshal for this weekend’s Red Bull Air Race World Championship event at IMS. It will mark the third straight year the Speedway has hosted the Air Race.

Foyt will meet all entered pilots before the race and then give a competition command from Race Control to get the flying going.

A.J. Foyt will be grand marshal of the air race this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Photo: IndyCar.

“I’m honored that IMS asked me to be the grand marshal for the air races,” Foyt said in a media release. “Any time I can do something at the Speedway, I’m happy to do it because I always enjoy it.

“I owe a lot to the Speedway – that is what made me. It will be my first time to see a Red Bull Air Race, which is something that I’m really looking forward to. I had planned to go last year, but something came up and I couldn’t make it.

“I would like to see one before I pass on. I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, this would be on it.”

Foyt will travel from his Houston-area home to ride herd over the high-flying weekend, where pilots will roar around pylons suspended in the air to record the quickest time possible.

“A.J. Foyt is synonymous with excellence and speed at Indianapolis, so we’re happy to welcome him to the Speedway for this weekend featuring the best pilots and aerial competition in the world,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. “A.J. always graciously says that IMS made him, and not the other way around.

“But A.J.’s passion for and success in the Indy 500 add significantly to IMS lore, and it’s always special for everyone to have him back home again in Indiana for any event.”

Practice and qualifying for the race will take place on Saturday, with actual racing on Sunday.

Pilots in the Master Class and Challenger Class fly against the clock at 200 mph, just 50 feet off the ground, through a course marked by 82-foot-tall Air Pylons over the IMS infield.

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister