Foyt To Bring Tag, No. 48 Back To Indianapolis

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 5 2015
Dan Gurney will be honored by old friend/teammate A.J. Foyt at Indy this year.

Dan Gurney will be honored by old friend/teammate A.J. Foyt at Indy this year.

Veteran Indy car driver and 2011 Indianapolis 500 pole-winner Alex Tagliani  has been added to the roster of A.J. Foyt Enterprises for the 99th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” later this month.

Tagliani will drive the Al-Fe Heat Treating Honda-powered Dallara at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the team owned by Foyt, first four-time winner of the Indy 500. Adding to the package will be a tribute to Dan Gurney and his famed No. 48 Eagle Indy car, an idea which started with Foyt.

“My good friend Dan Gurney used to run that number and he’s supposed to be back at Indy this year so I thought it would be a great way to honor him,” said Foyt, who co-drove to victory with Gurney in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1967. “He had some good runs with that number.”

Designed by Ryan Westman, regional sales manager for Al-Fe Heat Treating, Inc., and artist Jason LaFrenais, the No. 48’s matte black and bright white livery evokes the paint scheme of the Eagle Gurney drove to second-place finishes in the 1968 and 1969 Indy 500s.

Gurney, who plans to attend the 500 for the first time since the 2011 Centennial Anniversary at IMS, is looking forward to watching the No. 48 on-track and re-connecting with Foyt. As a team-owner, Gurney won the 1975 Indy 500 with Bobby Unser driving the No. 48 Jorgensen Eagle.

“I’m deeply touched by my old friend and teammate, A.J. ‘Super Tex’ Foyt, to be honored in this way,” Gurney said in a statement. “I will be rooting for Alex Tagliani in No. 48 with a big smile on my face.”

This project will reunite two of America’s most versatile racing icons. A resident of Houston, Foyt turned 80 on Jan 16. He is continuing to recover from triple heart bypass surgery in November.

Californian Gurney celebrated his 84th birthday on April 13. Their victory at Le Mans in a Ford GT 40 Mark IV featuring a 7-liter/427 cubic-inch V-8 engine remains the only all-American win in the world’s most prestigious endurance race. Foyt and Gurney finished nearly four laps ahead of the factory Ferrari 330P4 driven by Italian Ludovico Scarfiotti and Englishman Mike Parkes.

Tagliani will return to the cockpit of an Indy car for the first time since last year’s Indy 500, in which he qualified 24th and finished 13th for Sarah Fisher Racing. Tagliani, 41, has over 200 starts in Indy car competition _ 131 in the CART/Champ Car Series and 71 in the Verizon IndyCar Series to-date. In his six Indy 500 starts, the Canadian has finished in the top-13 four times with a best result of 10th in 2010. Tag has started in the top-11 four times, including his pole-winning run in 2011.

“I want to thank Al-Fe Heat Treating, Sexton Properties, ABC Supply, and everyone at Honda Racing and HPD for their hard work and support in making this opportunity happen,” Tagliani said. “I’m really excited and honored to be part of the A.J. Foyt Racing organization because driving for A.J. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something really, really special. Having the chance to contribute to the Foyt family legacy at the Speedway is my mission for the Month of May.

“I’m thrilled to be part of honoring Dan Gurney by driving a car in his livery. Bringing the Gurney Eagle’s vintage look to the new Honda aero kit car is for sure going to be a crowd-pleaser. As a new dad, sharing this unique tribute with my family and the Foyt family is very special. Taking the Dan Gurney No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating machine to Indy’s Victory Circle would be awesome, and we’re aiming to do just that.”

In addition to the No. 48, Foyt will field his regular No. 14 and No. 41 ABC Supply Hondas driven by Takuma Sato of Japan and Englishman Jack Hawksworth, respectively. It will be the first time that A.J. Foyt Racing has fielded three cars in the Indianapolis 500 since 2005, when Larry Foyt, A.J.’s son, was still driving.

“Dad has a long tradition of adding extra cars at the Speedway. And although we hadn’t originally planned on it, when the opportunity came, it made good sense,” said Larry Foyt, president of A.J. Foyt Racing. “It was important to have a driver with the ability and experience of Alex, so adding him to our lineup is a great fit. I’m looking forward to seeing this special livery racing alongside our ABC Supply machines. Al-Fe Heat Treating and the Westmans have been wonderful associates _ and friends _of the team, and I’d like to thank them for making this third entry a possibility.”

Tagliani will take his first laps in the car on Monday, May 11, when the track opens for its first full day of practice. Qualifying is scheduled for May 16-17. The Indy 500 will be broadcast live on Sunday, May 24, by ABC-TV. The pre-race broadcast will start at 11 a.m. (EDT).

Al-Fe Heat Treating, which began its association with Foyt as an associate sponsor of the No. 14 and No. 41 cars for the 2011 Indianapolis 500, since has expanded its sponsorship to season-long backing of the two-car team.

“One of the most memorable times of my childhood was to attend the Indy 500 time trials and the race with my family,” said Kurt Westman, founder/CEO of Al-Fe Heat Treating. “My brother and I would spend hours standing at the fence line along Gasoline Alley trying to catch a glimpse, and photograph, of the cars and drivers _ A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney to name a few.

“It’s almost impossible to explain the excitement and pride I feel in being able to be part of one of the most famous race teams in the world, and moreso this year by sponsoring A.J.’s No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating/Dan Gurney-tribute car driven by Alex Tagliani.”

Headquartered in Fort Wayne, Ind., Alfe Heat Treating, Inc. is the largest commercial aluminum heat treating operation in the United States. The company operates plants throughout the Midwest and Southeast serving aerospace, automotive, military and commercial customers with both ferrous and non-ferrous facilities.

“The Verizon IndyCar Series, and its great venues, presents our company a wonderful opportunity to develop business relationships, entertain customers and employees that share this common interest,” Kurt Westman said. “And the Indy 500 is at the top of the list.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 5 2015
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