[Source: AJ Foyt Racing press release]
WALLER, TX April 18, 2012—IndyCar rookie Wade Cunningham will drive for A.J. Foyt in the No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply Dallara as the ABC Supply team prepares its two Honda-powered entries for next month’s Indianapolis 500. Alfe Heat Treating will be an associate sponsor on the No. 41 car for the second year in a row.
“Driving for A.J.? He’s a legend!” Cunningham answered when asked about driving for Indy’s first four-time winner. “A.J.’s from a different era but he’s raced front engine roadsters at the Speedway and ended with the turbo-charged CART Indy cars, so he’s had an amazing career, and his is a very storied team, so it’s quite an honor to drive for him.”
“I think Wade will do a great job for us at Indy and I think he’ll be a big asset to our team,” Foyt said. “I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
“Indy means more to me than anything else,” the 27-year-old revealed. “Winning at Indy in the Firestone Indy Lights Series is the only thing that kept my career on track so it’s important to me to go there and do well in IndyCar and prove that the results can translate.”
Foyt certainly hopes those results will translate because in five of Cunningham’s six starts in the Firestone Freedom 100, he won three times, and placed second and third! Incidentally, Foyt fielded the winning car for Ed Carpenter in the inaugural running of the race in 2003.
Foyt was aware of Cunningham’s success at the Speedway in the Indy Lights but pointed to Cunningham’s foray into Indy cars last year when speaking of him.
“I knew Wade was good in the little cars [Indy Lights] but what opened my eyes was his race at Kentucky in the Indy cars,” Foyt said. In that race, Cunningham started 15th, dropped back to 23rd and was running in the top five with less than 10 laps to go. When he tried to pass Scott Dixon for third, Cunningham got boxed in and had to lift causing him to lose momentum. He ended up seventh, still an impressive showing for the rookie.
The only three-time winner of the Freedom 100 Firestone Indy Lights race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Cunningham will nevertheless participate in the track’s Rookie Orientation Program for Indy cars May 10. However, his first opportunity to drive the new DW12 chassis will come three days earlier. Cunningham, along with regular pilot Mike Conway, will run a shakedown test of the No. 14 ABC Supply car at Texas Motor Speedway in the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test on Monday, May 7.
Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins at noon on Saturday, May 12th. Qualifying for the fastest 33 cars takes place Saturday, May 19th while Bump Day will be held on Sunday, May 20. The 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast live by ABC-TV on Sunday, May 27th starting at 11 a.m. ET.