AJ Foyt Racing Is Ready For Pocono

Carlos Munoz and JR Hildebrand
CARLOS MUNOZ on Pocono Raceway: “Pocono is one of my favorites, if not the favorite. I have always been really good there, really competitive. My first year I won in Indy Lights and my first year in an IndyCar finished third, always top-ten finishes, so I really love that track. It’s nice to go back to racing – it’s been a nice time off – but I think it’s nice to get back at it. Hopefully we have a good car. It’s going to be a fun race for sure.  I think we need a strong result; the team has worked a lot over this break and worked really well. We have to try to find a little bit of speed to improve, so that’s good that our guys have had the time off to work.  Hopefully we go there and I can give it a little bit extra, so we’ll see.”

Conor Daly

CONOR DALY on Pocono Raceway: “I look forward to getting back to the super-speedway package and a 500 mile race.  It’s a huge opportunity to gain experience.  We had a good car at the Indy 500, the last 500 mile race, so I’m looking forward to building on that.  It would be fantastic to get another top 10 under our belts and keep the momentum going.”

SPOTTER LARRY ARNOLD, of Zionsville, Ind., has been with AJ Foyt Racing since 2004 and has spotted for drivers A.J. Foyt IV, Felipe Giaffone, Darren Manning, Vitor Meira, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mike Conway, Takuma Sato, Jack Hawksworth and now Conor Daly. Following are his thoughts ON:

Spotting at Pocono Raceway: “Pocono is not a tri-oval, it’s a triangle so when they go out of Turn 1 they are actually going away from you to the farthest part of the track in Turn 2 and then they start coming back towards you to Turn 3. As they enter turn 3, sometimes they go low and it gets tough to see because of the retaining wall on the inside. However, the most difficult part of Pocono is going into Turn 1. The track is so wide and on restarts the cars will be three and four wide going into Turn 1. At some point, they all look alike because all we see is the back of the car. You can’t see numbers, you can’t see the colors so the drivers have to be aware to use their mirrors when they get in a restart situation. We really can’t pick them up again until they actually make it out of Turn 1. That’s something we as spotters talk to the drivers about and they’re all aware of it. It’s not just me, all of the spotters have the same issue.”

The hardest track to spot: “There are two tracks: Indianapolis and Pocono. Indy because it’s so big and the way the spotters are, we’re in Turn 1 and Turn 3. Most tracks we’re at the center of the front stretch so you have a good perspective all around the track. Indy, when you’re in Turn 3 and they’re coming out of Turn 2, you’re so far away that the perspective of who’s passing and who’s clear is pretty difficult to do that there although we do. One thing you learn is if the car that’s following your car suddenly disappears, you know he’s right on the bumper so he’s getting ready to pass your car. At Pocono I think Turn 1 is most difficult as I said before, but also when they go into Turn 3 they go low on the white line and sometimes you can just barely make out the top of the cars. Overall though, I’d say Pocono’s Turn 1 is probably the hardest turn to do on the circuit.”

How he tells the nearly identical ABC Supply Chevrolets apart: “Good question! Conor normally wears a green helmet so that’s a big, big benefit. He had a similar helmet to Carlos at Texas – both were red, white and blue – and that was tough. As long as you don’t lose them on the track, you’re watching them and you know where they are, but if you take your eyes off of them and they pit or they change positions, then sometimes it’s difficult and you think, ‘Geez am I calling the right car?’ It’s hard, I won’t lie about that, it’s hard sometimes. Hopefully Conor will be wearing the green helmet this weekend. Lately, they’ve been starting back to back, side by side or close to each other and that’s what makes it interesting on the initial start.”

His biggest concern as a spotter: “Making a mistake that causes the driver to crash—that’s the biggest worry you always have. I always tell them, you have your mirrors. When I say you’re clear, you’re going to be clear, but you check your mirrors anyway to make sure. That’s the biggest concern, you either call the wrong car or you say something that causes them to get in somebody’s way or they actually crash. Luckily, in my memory I’ve never had that happen. I’ve made some mistakes but nothing that resulted in a crash.”

Thomas Semik II has been promoted to crew chief of the No. 14 car. The former front end mechanic will continue to be the outside front tire changer on pit stops. A graduate of the Russell Racing School, he served as an instructor for three years there (1993-1995). In 1999, he became a full-time mechanic and before joining Foyt Racing in 2009, he had worked with the Rusport team. Born in Detroit, Mich., Semik makes his home in Cypress, Texas.

Drivers “help” to prepare the track: Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly, along with Will Power and Ed Carpenter, will be helping the Pocono Raceway staff to prep the 2.5 mile track’s facility on Friday. They will answer phones and chat with customers looking for tickets, help security check credentials of people entering the grounds, set up the track’s merchandise haulers and the media center. TV cameras will be documenting the experience which will be used to promote Sunday ticket sales.

Grand Marshal Daly: Conor Daly is serving as Grand Marshal of the Urban Youth Racing School Grand Prix at Speed Raceway in Cinnaminson, N.J. this afternoon. Daly will sign autographs, speak to the students about the value of an education and his own journey to race professionally and then wave the green flag to start the Grand Prix. According to their brochure, “The Urban Youth Racing School offers an exhilarating 10-week program for urban students ages 8-18. The goal: to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics via the magic of motorsports and prepare students for a fast-paced career in the competitive world of professional racing. The course then culminates in the creation of a real student racing team.” The event has been supported by Chevrolet for nearly two decades.

Past Performance: Carlos Munoz’s best start and finish at Pocono is 3rd (2014). In Conor Daly’s only race at Pocono, he started 20th and finished 16th in 2016. Since the track’s return to the INDYCAR Series, the Foyt team’s best start is 3rd and best finish is 6th — both with Takuma Sato in 2016 and 2015 respectively. Sato qualified in the top 10 in all four starts with Foyt.

ABC Supply national account Jerry’s Siding Roofing Windows, with its headquarters in Severn, Md., will be featured on Carlos Munoz’s No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Munoz.

ABC Supply’s local roofing customer Sun Roofing, headquartered in Gloucester Twp., N.J., won the Your Name Here contest and will be featured on Conor Daly’s No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Daly.

ABC Supply celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. The company was founded in 1982 by Ken and Diane Hendricks with just three stores. The company now has over 700 stores and topped $7 billion in sales in 2016. ABC Supply began sponsoring the AJ Foyt Racing team with the 2005 Indianapolis 500. The company has leveraged its involvement by entertaining over 84,000 associates and customers over the past 12 racing seasons. The company will entertain over 1400 guests this weekend.

A.J. Foyt’s iconic career is honored in an extraordinary exhibit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. A.J. Foyt: A Legendary Exhibition presented by ABC Supply Co., Inc. runs through October 31. With additional support from Alfe Heat Treating and Chevrolet, the exhibit features nearly three dozen race cars that Foyt drove plus rare memorabilia from his personal collection.

The ABC Supply 500 at Pocono will be televised live on NBC Sports Network Sunday, August 20, starting at 2:00 pm EDT. Qualifying will be broadcast on NBCSN on Saturday, Aug. 19 starting at 2:00 pm EDT. The race will be broadcast live on Sirius XM radio on the following channels: Sirius 212, XM 209, SXM 970.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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