This is a man who has deliberately crashed cars that took him out, given some of the most fiery interviews open-wheel racing has ever seen, and yes, was once attacked by a lion at a track before a race. To say A.J. Foyt would even be capable of keeping a low profile would seem to be a wild statement.
Yet that is exactly what Foyt’s team is doing this year in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Vitor Meira has continually finished well in the young season, but hardly a word has been said about the #14 ABC Supply team’s consistency so far.
Their latest outing at the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix was an excellent example of their off-the-radar excellence. Despite getting hit by Graham Rahal in the pits and touching wheels with Danica Patrick on a later outlap, Meira recovered to finish in 9th place, the team’s 3rd straight consecutive Top 10 to open the IZOD IndyCar Series season.
Of course, that wasn’t the first recovery this year. In the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama a week earlier, Meria recovered from getting pushed in the grass by Helio Castroneves to finish 12th. In the season open at St. Pete, he came back from a cut tire that dropped him deep in the field to finish 8th, Foyt Racing’s best ever result on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
Coming back from adversity to finish strong? That sounds like someone we know.
“Whether you’re coming back from health problems (I’ve had a little experience with that over the years) or from ‘incidents’ at the race track, how quickly you recover, and get back at it, is critical”, said owner A.J. Foyt on his team’s website. Foyt, returning from a health scare of his own that caused him to miss the season opener at St. Pete, knows plenty about what it takes to come back.
There are many teams in the series that have seen a good race followed by a bad result, or a Top 10 followed by a Did Not Finish result. Thirteen drivers (out of 28 who have competed at least one race) have at least one DNF, and many others have seen incidents that have knocked them out of a Top 10 finish. All the while, Foyt Racing continues, finding a way to persevere and finish well.
Next up for this team is the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle, a race in Meira’s native Brazil. He placed third here last year. He’d love to improve upon that at one of the circuit’s most dynamic street courses.
Vitor Meira currently holds the active IZOD IndyCar Series record for most starts without a victory. But like his team owner, he’s not a man to give up. And if Meira and Foyt Racing continue their assault towards the front of the field, he’ll get his chance in Victory Lane sooner than later. If they keep being this quiet about it, they just might sneak up on all of us when they do.