Beechler Makes A-J- Proud

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For the past five races, Donnie Beechler has been worried about whether or not he’d have a ride. This past weekend, Beechler decided to stop focusing on the future and race the way he always has.

That strategy paid dividends Sunday afternoon when Beechler drove A.J. Foyt’s No. 11 Dallara-Aurora to third place in the inaugural Ameristar Casino Indy 200 at Kansas Speedway.

"It was a good finish, not just for myself, but for A.J. Foyt and his team,” said Beechler, who is racing for Foyt on a race-by-race basis. “We kind of needed a shot in the arm after Richmond.

“I wasn't very good there (he finished seventh), and Salazar had a good car and then ended up crashing. So this is good for everybody.”

Most of all, it’s good for Beechler’s chances to stay with Foyt’s team. Because Foyt and Beechler don’t have a guaranteed contract, the No. 11 could be pulled at a moment’s notice.

Beechler’s performance at Kansas provides him with a bit of ride insurance for the foreseeable future.

“A.J.’s been funding this thing by himself, and that's what's making it so tough for us right now,” Beechler said. “So the last few races we've been very cautious out there to try to just roll the car into the trailer. And it got to be where I just couldn't race. I mean, I was so worried about tearing the race car up and not going to the next race, that it was just messing with me.

“After Richmond, I just said, ‘You know what, I have to just run this thing like I have 10 cars, and we have sponsors, and...’ Because that's what actually got me the ride.”

In his five races with Foyt, Beechler has one Top 5 and three total Top-10 finishes. Despite starting just five of the seven events this year, he is 18th in the points standings. He's just 36 points out of the Top 10.

Not only did Beechler tie a career best with his podium finish, but he also led an event for the first time since he led at Atlanta Motor Speedway a year ago. Fittingly, both are 1.5-mile tracks.

Beechler has made a career on the intermediate tracks. He has four straight top-10 finishes on 1.5-milers, and his best start also came on a 1.5-mile track at Atlanta last season.

He showed off his skills by charging from the 11th starting position to first on Lap 94. Beechler used a low move in Turn 2 to get around Sam Hornish Jr. Beechler led three laps before surrendering the point to eventual winner Eddie Cheever Jr.

Beechler wasn’t done, though. He stayed with the leaders throughout, and tried to get around Cheever for second on Lap 195, but couldn’t complete the pass.

“It was a very racy track,” Beechler said. “I'm looking forward to coming back here next year.”

Better yet, Beechler may be back July 21, when the IRNLS heads to the inaugural event at Nashville Superspeedway and the Harrah’s Indy 200.

Considering Harrah’s sponsors Beechler’s car, it’s a good bet the Springfield, Ill., racer will get the chance to prove A.J. Foyt right again.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
TV Start:
NBCSN

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