Robert Wickens, A.J. Foyt to attend St. Petersburg race

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The first IndyCar race of the season will see both A.J. Foyt and paralyzed driver Robert Wickens back at the track.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash last August and has been rehabilitating in Denver the last several months. The Canadian said he will be part of IndyCar’s driver autograph session and participate in a fan event Sunday before the race in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Coverage of the race begins Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or the NBC Sports app. A feature interview of Wickens and his recovery will air before the race.

Wickens made his IndyCar debut on the streets of St. Petersburg last year, starting from the pole and leading every lap until he was spun by Alexander Rossi with two laps remaining. He had four podium finishes and was sixth in the standings when he was injured with three races remaining.

Foyt, meanwhile, has not been to an IndyCar race since June. The four-time Indianapolis 500 winner had back surgery in July and then a staph infection, the third for the 84-year-old Texan.

He attended last month’s Daytona 500 and acknowledged he has been slowed by poor health and a dislike for hearing aids, but his workload remains about the same. Foyt said through A.J. Foyt Racing on Wednesday that he had to have a bulldozer pulled from a pond and narrowly avoided yet another encounter with bees.

The bulldozer incident occurred, Foyt said, as he was digging and the “`dozer just slipped down.”

“It was real muddy and I tried to go faster to get up and out but the machine just slipped further down,” he said. “So I stopped before the whole thing went under. I had to have two guys help pull me out because I was in quicksand, I couldn’t climb out myself, and I lost a shoe.”

Foyt has twice been attacked by bees – a 2005 attack that left 200 stingers in his head, and another attack last year that his team characterized as more severe “and more dangerous because he had been sensitized to bee stings from his first encounter.”

A few weeks ago, Foyt said, he was planning to move a tree on his Texas ranch with a bulldozer when a friend offered to do it instead and wound up being attacked by bees.

“I was in another tractor with a closed cab and saw them chasing him and he was slapping at them and going backward to get away,” Foyt said. “And I thought, `Man, I’m glad I’m not in that one.’ He got stung pretty good, his face was swollen and he got a black eye. He was lucky they were honey bees, not killer bees, because he could get away from them. I felt sorry for him.”

Foyt said at Daytona in February that he’s ceded daily operations of A.J. Foyt Racing to his son, Larry, and only gets involved with the team when they ask him for money. The team fields cars for Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series
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After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi