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Foyt can't let Andrettis slide


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2000

INDIANAPOLIS -- A.J. Foyt couldn't let the moment pass any more than he willingly let other drivers pass him when he was winning four Indianapolis 500s. He was asked Friday for his reaction to Jeff Andretti, one of his former drivers, signing on with the Indy Racing series.

"I guess daddy must've left him out of the will," Foyt said.

Mario Andretti has been an outspoken critic of the series since 1996, when it split from Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), dividing open-wheel racing.

Jeff will drive for Derrick Walker's team through 2002. Sarah Fisher is driving for Walker here Sunday.

"My dad wasn't too happy with the idea," Jeff said, "but he knew that when opportunities arise, you had better grab it."

Jeff Andretti, Indy 500 rookie of the year in 1991 when he finished 15th, suffered serious injuries to his feet in 1992 while driving for Foyt. He qualified for the 1993 race but crashed again and since then has occasionally driven in NASCAR truck races. He is expected to race for Walker July 15 at Atlanta.

MATSUDA RELEASED: Hideshi Matsuda was released Friday from Methodist Hospital, five days after surgery on a fractured right wrist and left knee injured in a crash Sunday. His car did a half-spin and the left side hit the outer wall in Turn 3 during practice.

GROWING PLANS: Indy Racing founder and president Tony George said this year's nine-race series could expand to as many as 15 in 2001, with Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth as a building block.

"We would love for TMS to continue as the first race after the (Indy) 500," George said. The Casino Magic 500 is there June 10.

Said TMS general manager Eddie Gossage: "The first race after Indy makes that special. (It) traditionally draws the biggest open-wheel crowd outside of the Indy 500."

George said plans are in the works to bring a race to Daytona International Speedway.

"We're not there yet," George said. "I think we can run about anywhere we want, safely." He also said the annual season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando is in jeopardy because of scheduling conflicts at the resort.

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