Thursday, January 24, 2013

Foyt's #41: Who Should Get The Ride?

This year’s IndyCar season has been a quiet affair, marked by a few intense flare-ups and the usual, requisite waiting for news. However, A.J. Foyt and Robin Miller helped break that open this week with the news that Conor Daly, Bertrand Baguette, and Alex Lloyd are all under consideration for the #41 ride at Indianapolis this year. While it sounds like the chances of the #41 being anything other than a part-time ride are iffy, that’s an intriguing list of names for Indy. The only issue most IndyCar fans will have with that list is that it’s too tough to choose, with each driver bringing their own big plusses to the seat.

It seems as if Conor Daly has been on the radar of IndyCar fans since he was in diapers. The 21 year-old driver and 2010 Star Mazda champ has had a few Indy Lights races under his belt, but his last two years have been mainly consumed with GP3. While Europe still seems to be his focus, he’s also been open to driving IndyCars where the possibility presents itself. You can’t get a much better possibility than Indy. Interestingly enough, if he did qualify for the 2013 500, it would be exactly 30 years after his father, Derek Daly, raced in his last Indy 500. Conor may be the youngest and relatively least-experienced driver of the three when it comes to IndyCar, but his presence would clearly be welcomed by a lot of fans.

Could Baguette return to Indy?
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)
I’ll readily admit to being a proud member of the Bertrand Baguette Fan Club, American Chapter (BBFCAC), even as his career has gone away from IndyCar and more into endurance racing in Europe. Even as a rookie in 2010 IndyCar, he took care of his car, learned quickly on the track, and stayed out of trouble. In 2011, his one-off appearance at Indy had the press scrambling for Wikipedia, as he came within a few laps and a splash of ethanol from winning the 500. The “Breadman” not only has one of the best names to appear on the driver rolls at Indy, but he’s plainly up to the challenge of competing for victory there, as well.

Alex Lloyd is the most experienced driver of the three when it comes to the 500, and certainly brings a reputation for getting what he can out of even lower-tier rides. His 4th place finish in 2010 will not quickly be forgotten, nor will his heroics in willing a misbehaving Coyne machine through a teeth-clenching qualifying run on Bump Day in 2011. He definitely seems to get what Indy is all about. As a plus, he’s a hugely entertaining writer, and has gathered somewhat of a following for his series of articles over at Jalopnik (warning: potentially NSFW). Lloyd would be an asset to the series in both his driving and his writing, and I’d still love to see a team pick him up for the full season. Still, if we get him for at least Indy, that’s a good start.

Who would my pick be? As much I’d love to see Daly get a shot at Indy sometime, I’m having a very tough time not picking Lloyd or Baguette. Both have some good experience under their belt, both have good finishes at Indy, and both are the sort of smart, competitive driver you want to see at Indianapolis. Again, though, this is a question where I don’t think there is a wrong answer among the three. Daly, Baguette, and Lloyd all have their strengths as choices for that ride.

Honestly, all three are terrific drivers, and I feel a case could be made for all three in terms of being the best/most entertaining/most deserving entry. I’m sure as we draw closer to spring matters will come into clearer focus, but for now, the Foyt team has left us with a heck of a riddle to ponder.

So, how about it? Who would your pick be for the Foyt #41 car this year at Indianapolis?

4 comments:

  1. If it happens, I wonder if it might be a ride by committee situation where all three make an appearance over the course of the season by piecing together different personal sponsorship packages allowing the #41 to run the season with each driver behind the wheel for 5 or 6 races. I'd be fine with that. If it can only be one, my pick is Alex Lloyd, but you can't go wrong with the other two. I have a feeling Conor Daly might run a few road and street courses late in the season.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought Chase Austin was driving the 41 for Foyt at Indy? Did that fall through or never materialize? I actually don't really mind who gets the seat just asking.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Actually Chase Austin would be driving for Foyt at Indianapolis in what would be Foyt's third car. If I'm not mistaken Foyt talked about that option in an interview with Robin Miller over at speed.com. Foyt did tell Miller that it seems unlikely that the #41 will be run full time this year as they really want to put all their focus with Sato. However, Larry Foyt was quoted as saying "A.J. and I are definitely interested in Conor for next year and maybe we can run him in May, as well as a couple of times this year later in the season." So Rick you appear to be right in regards to Daly potentially running later in the year.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If Chase Austin does run--and that would be a definite if at this point--it would be in a third car. The entire Austin to Indy thing is definitely up in the air right now. Thanks for the commentary!

    ReplyDelete