For the first time, in the qualifying races for Sunday's Daytona 500, Larry Foyt, son of A.J., the winner of four Indy 500s. Larry, 25, who has been racing stock cars for three years on smaller circuits, was born to A.J.'s daughter, Terry, and adopted by A.J. when Larry was two. He got a relatively late start in racing because A.J. refused to let him compete seriously until he finished college.
After graduating from Texas Christian University in May 2000 with a degree in communications, Larry wanted to follow in his father's open-wheel tracks. But A.J. steered him away. "He thought if you're a young driver and you want to have a long career, stock cars, and NASCAR especially, is the place to be," said Larry last Saturday at Daytona Speedway. "So he pushed me that way. Not to lie, I was disappointed. But the more I tested the cars, I really liked the way they drove. I started to get excited."
The Foyts haven't abandoned Indy Cars, though. Last year A.J. IV, the patriarch's 18-year-old grandson, drove A.J.'s car to the championship in the inaugural season of the IRL's developmental series for young drivers. This year the young A.J.—who refers to stock cars disdainfully as "taxicabs"—will compete on the main circuit, including Indy.
Larry, a multisport high school athlete who competed in Junior Olympics as a volleyball player, might have spent another year in the Busch series but moved up largely because his sponsor, Harrah's, wanted Winston Cup exposure. For all of Larry's pedigree, he's one of the youngest and least experienced drivers on the circuit. "We know this year is going to be tough," says Larry, who'll drive A.J.'s number 14 Dodge. "Our expectations are just to qualify for races."