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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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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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