Ray Rides Again

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After sitting out the first four races of the Indy Racing League season, 1999 IRL Champion Greg Ray returns to competition for the Indy 500 as the driver of the A.J. Foyt Racing-owned, No. 11 Dallara-Chevy. The agreement runs through the 2003 IRL season.

Ray was set to begin the 2002 season with Kelley Racing as Scott Sharp’s teammate, but before the season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he was released from the team because of lack of sponsorship.

With A.J. Foyt Racing, Ray will be replacing the injured Eliseo Salazar. Salazar suffered a torn artery during a testing crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 16.

It is not the first time Ray has driven for Foyt, both of whom are Texans, having done so twice in 1998 and once last season. And Ray anticipates good things will come of the reunion.

“When I drove for A.J. before, I really enjoyed working with him and the team,” Ray said. “Over the last 10 years, I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with the guys on Foyt’s team – with the Texas connection they really feel like my extended family. I always raced against him at Indy, so teaming up with A.J. there will be a special experience for me.

“Our personalities match extremely well, so I’m sure that’s worth a couple tenths.”

For Foyt, who also fields a car for Airton Dare, the feeling is mutual.

“I’m looking forward to working with Greg again,” Foyt said. “Greg is a talented driver, he’s a great spokesperson, but what I like about him most is that he knows how to get a car to the front. That’s what I’m looking for.”

Ray also knows how to start from the front, having won a league-best 13 poles during his five-year IRL career, including one for the 2000 Indy 500.

Foyt hasn’t forgotten about Salazar, through, and is ready for when he can get back in the driver’s seat.

“It was terrible that Eliseo got hurt,” Foyt said. “I know Eliseo is upset that he’s missing out on Indy and a good part of the year, but at least he came through the surgery well.

“The doctors don’t think he’ll be back before next year, but Eliseo is determined to get back ahead of schedule, so we’ll just have to wait and see. I promised I’d have a car for him if he does.”

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