Davison and Byrd Join Foyt For Indy 500 Entry
Twenty-four years removed from their most recent partnership, A.J. Foyt Racing and the estate of the late Jonathan Byrd will once again join forces to field Australian veteran pilot James Davison in the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
After initially announcing there was zero interest in offering extra rides for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ premier event in 2018, the early performance of Foyt’s two full-time entries; including a top-ten effort by Tony Kanaan at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, has convinced management to once again expand to a three-car effort.
This time, however, the David Byrd-led organization will run separately from the Foyt outfit at the Brickyard, similar to the partnership between Sam Schmidt and Michael Shank for Jack Harvey’s part-time ride this season. The son of the founder of the popular Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria in nearby Greenfield, east of Indianapolis, will run the entry alongside Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires team entrant Brian Belardi.
The last time Foyt and Byrd came together to field a car at the Indianapolis 500 was in 1994, when John Andretti finished tenth. Following the effort, Andretti flew to Charlotte to compete in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, the first time a driver had attempted both Memorial Day classics on the same day.
“We weren’t going to run a third car this year and just concentrate on No. 14 (Tony Kanaan) and No. 4 (rookie Matteus Leist) but the people they’ve put together just made sense for us to do it,” said Larry Foyt, the team manager/president for A.J. Foyt Racing.
The opportunity comes just 11 months prior to a career run for Davison at last year’s Indy 500. Starting in 33rd position after replacing the injured Sebastien Bourdais, the 31-year-old Australian charged to the front in the late stages; and would have challenged for the victory, if not for being caught up in a multi-car pile-up in the south short chute. Although the accident relegated the three-time Indy starter to a 20th-place finish, the performance caught the attention of Byrd, who has been absent from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the death of USAC Sprint Car star Bryan Clauson three years ago.
“I started to talking to James in the garage right after the race was over and it’s really cool how everything has come together,” said Byrd, whose family has fielded entries for such drivers as Rich Vogler and two-time Indy 500 champion Arie Luyendyk.
Veteran IndyCar team manager Steve Moore, who oversaw Tony Kanaan’s memorable 2013 Indy 500 triumph has been hired to manage the operation and has already brought in multiple team members for the No. 33 Dallara-Chevrolet machine. Among the early additions is engineer Kyle Brennan, who worked alongside Davison at Indy in 2014 when he drove for KV Racing Technology.
The confirmation of Davison means there are now 35 car-driver combinations set in stone for the opening day of practice at Indy on May 15th.
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