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NASCAR Winston Cup Preview

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Winston Cup

NASCAR Winston Cup Preview

Larry Foyt
January 18, 2003


Q. It's going to be a full season for you this year. Maybe the toughest part of the year may be driving for Dad, but how is everything coming together for the team?

LARRY FOYT: It's coming. We got a late start. As you know we just made our announcement not long ago that Harahs is going to be back with us again. Right now it's kind of Katey, bar the door. The guys are working their guts out to get us some cars built. I think it's all coming together. My dad has been spending more time down in Charlotte working hard to get our team turned around. I notice he hasn't been happy the way it's been run the past few years. So we are really trying to turn it around.

Q. Your dad is known as kind of a competitive guy. Obviously you have grown up with him. Can you handle his volatility? He has been known to yell at folks when things don't go right. I'm sure you have been yelled at by him when things haven't gone right .

LARRY FOYT: Obviously you haven't heard him on the radio with me yet. That's his way. That's his competitiveness. That's one of the reasons that he was so successful though is that he really is that competitive and he just -- I know how to take it growing up with it. It's not bad. It really don't bother me too much, you know, that he -- I know he is trying to make me a better race car driver. If you listen to him, the way he says it sounds harsh or aggressive that there is a message there. I think over the years I have learned how to get that message out even when he seems angry to me, it's really not bad. It's just his competitiveness.

Q. You look down at the Foyt Family and Anthony the fourth has had a pretty good season last year. Now he is moving up. How good do you expect him to be this year?

LARRY FOYT: He is an incredible racecar driver. He has a lot more experience than I do. I think he is going to be fine. It's a big step for him just like there is for me. A J is going to have his hands full like both of us coming up. The IRL season looks tough, a lot of good teams coming over. I'm sure he is going to have good days and bad days just like I am. I think A J will do really well. A J understands my experience and he knows Anthony's too. So I know he is going to put him in the best car he can and Anthony's ability will definitely come through.

Q. Even with A J's expectation, realistically what are you looking at this year? What are you looking to achieve especially with the rookie class being so crowded, is it going to be easy for you to learn as you go along and really develop as a rookie should or do you set the bar kind of high because of the family name?

LARRY FOYT: It's tough because Winston Cup is the toughest place to come learn especially when I have always been racing stock cars for a couple of years and racing full-time for a few years. I think the biggest goal for me is just qualifying for these races. It looks like we are going to have a lot more cars in the Winston Cup field than there were last year trying to qualify. That is going to make it that much tougher just to qualify. And there are going to be tracks that I have never been to. That's going to be really tough. You don't have a lot of time to get up to speed and learn the racetrack. The biggest goal for me is to qualify for these races. Once you're in, you got a lot of time to get experience and that is the goal for me. I haven't set Top 10s or any goals like that per se. I just want to run well; let the guys learn the way -- that I'm out there and I am competent and I can be out there and race with these guys. Hopefully I can show them that.

Q. Larry, do Indy cars every interest you? Why stock cars?

LARRY FOYT: I haven't hidden the fact that the Indy 500 was the reason I wanted to be a racecar driver. I've been there every year. I was born and watched my dad race there. Those guys were my heroes and that was the reason why I wanted to be a racecar driver. Growing up, I raced the go-karts a little bit; at that time I was the youngest kid that grew up in the house and my dad didn't have any of the other kids racing. He was against me racing early on. He just didn't want to have to worry about us getting hurt and things like that. As you know, he has had plenty of bad injuries and still is almost crippled today because of the injuries he has had. So it was tough to get started. But, to me, at that time, I never even thought about stock-car racing. It was all about open-wheel racing. I raced Formula 2000 a little bit and started testing the Indy cars. I was pretty much ready to go IRL Racing and at the last minute, he started the Winston Cup team. He said, for a young American driver because at that time with the CART/IRL split just happening, people didn't know what was going to happen with open-wheel racing; especially in America. He said, 'if you want to have a good career, you ought to look at stock cars.' That's when he put me in the ASA car. I am really happy. I really enjoy it. I love being affiliated with NASCAR and being part of that whole family. I guess my goals have changed. Winston Cup is where I want to be. I haven't forgotten about Indy and some day would like to give that a try.

Q. Will you race harder against Mears and Fittipaldi because of the Foyt name; because of the history of the dads involved?

LARRY FOYT: It probably goes through your mind a little bit when you see them out there. Casey is a great guy. We have become friends, and really he has a good head on his shoulders. He comes from a great racing family. Getting to know Christian now. I think we kind of have a bond there that some of other drivers don't have. It's a pretty neat thing. Maybe we do a little bit. Maybe we don't. We all feel for each other coming over from open-wheel background too because there is a lot of things that you have to learn about stock car racing and the way you race is quite different from an open-wheel car. We see guys struggle. Robby Gordon, one of the most talented drivers there is around, struggled a little bit adapting to the closed-wheel car. Now he is really coming alive over at Richard Childress.

Q. Was there any line of work that you had considered other than driving and how loudly did A.J. yell as your father when you presented it to him?

LARRY FOYT: His biggest thing was I got an education. I went to college and graduated from TCU, but at the time I always knew what I wanted to do. Ever since -- I grew up playing normal sports. When I was younger I wanted to be a basketball player. That didn't work out. I didn't grow very much. I used to come out to North Carolina and go to Dean Smith's basketball camp and played all the sports and never thought about racing. At that age it's really not an option you don't have your own money. As I started to grow up and I started to think why can't I be a race car driver, why couldn't I try that? That's when my goals changed when I started high school and I quit all of the other sports and started focusing on racing and from then -- I hope this works out because I don't know what I'm going to do.

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