(Courtesy AJ Foyt Racing)
Veteran Indy car driver Bruno Junqueira has been hired to drive A.J. Foyt Racing's second entry in the Indianapolis 500, the No. 84 ABC Supply Dallara powered by Honda.
Junqueira, the 2002 Indy 500 pole winner, reached an agreement with Team Director Larry Foyt last Thursday to be a teammate to Vitor Meira, who drives the team's No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara.
"I am very happy," said the 34-year-old Brazilian. "First, because I love the race; second, because the biggest champion in that race is A.J. Foyt - he won as a driver, he won as a team owner, and third, I'm going to have Vitor as my teammate who is a good friend and a good driver so I think it's a perfect combination."
Team owner A.J. Foyt is enthusiastic about his son's newest hire.
"Bruno certainly knows his way around Indy-every time he's run there, he's been fast," said Foyt, adding, "Plus he and Vitor get along well-they're both from Brazil. I may have to start learning Portuguese. Not really, but I think it'll be great and it will make us a stronger team for Indy."
Meira, too, is excited about the addition to the team, saying, "Aside from our friendship, which we've had for a long time, Bruno is an awesome addition to the team because of the amount of experience he brings with him. This year's race will be the toughest in a long time and we need to have every tool available to get 100% out of the car."
Junqueira finished fifth in the 500 for two different teams: as a rookie driving for Chip Ganassi in 2001 and again in 2004 driving for Newman-Haas. What was his first impression of the historic Brickyard?
"I loved it," said Junqueira. "Indy was actually my second oval race-my first race was in Nazareth (Pa.). So I went from a one-mile track, very tough to a very fast 500! It was one of the biggest experiences of my life. I had a very fast car that year and I qualified as the fastest rookie. I did not practice and qualify on pole day, just the second day of qualifying, and I was the fastest second day qualifier. I had a really fast car but I started 20th so I was in the middle of the field. I had Al Unser Jr. on the inside and Michael Andretti on the outside of me and I said to myself, ‘Man, two great drivers, two winners next to me here!' It was a big experience and I had a great time."
Junqueira, who is driving for Paul Gentilozzi's Jaguar team in the American LeMans Series this year, lives in Miami with his wife Luciana and their son Enzo.
Practice for the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 mile event begins on Sunday, May 15th with qualifications set to take place on Saturday, May 21st.