Indy 500 2013: A.J. Foyt overcomes surgery, back for 56th straight year

Jamie Squire

Despite back surgery, legend A.J. Foyt will be in the pit for the Indy 500 Sunday, watching as Grand Prix of Long Beach winner Takuma Sato and newcomer Conor Daly race for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

A.J. Foyt is 78 years old and had surgery to repair four vertebrae in his back less than a month ago. But Sunday is the Indianapolis 500, his race, and he's not about to miss it. He will be involved with the race for the 56th consecutive year, this time in the pits helping a pair of inexperienced drivers for A.J. Foyt Enterprises try to win at the Brickyard.

Foyt's surgery stems from injuries suffered in his racing days: the four-time Indy 500 winner broke his back twice during his hall-of-fame career. He is not yet fully recovered from the April 23 surgery, but he'll be overseeing his team -- run by his adoptive son Larry -- on Sunday. From Phil Richards of USA Today:

Foyt Racing hasn't had a driver finish higher than 12th in the series standings in 10 years.

Foyt's son, Larry, 36, has led their IndyCar team's return to competitiveness. Larry has gained in competence and been rewarded with increasing authority and autonomy every year since he became team director in 2006.

"They've done a great job," said Foyt, 78. "Larry is running it pretty much 100% and I'm still paying the bills. I'm awfully proud of what he's done. I'm relaxed and happy."

Foyt's two drivers are Takuma Sato and Conor Daly, who will start 18th and 31st respectively. Sato has seen success in his first year with Foyt: On April 21, he won his first IndyCar race, at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Calif. He's never finished above 17th in three tries at Indianapolis, but having taken the checkered flag just two races ago, he's a threat to compete Sunday.

For Daly, this is is his first time at the Brickyard: The 21-year-old has spent most of the season on the GP2 series, and this will be his first IndyCar race and first time behind the wheel for Foyt. He's tied for the lowest odds of anybody competing -- 250-1, per Bovada.

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