Australian racing driver James Davison will return to the Indianapolis 500 next month after being signed up to drive the #33 Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt. Foyt will partner with Jonathan Byrd as well as Hollinger MotorSport and Belardi Auto Racing to run the third A.J. Foyt Enterprises car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27, alongside his two full-time Verizon IndyCar Series entries.
Davison has raced in the Verizon IndyCar Series on five previous occasions in his career. Three of his five starts came at Indianapolis, with his first two races coming back in 2013 at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma when Dale Coyne Racing gave him his debut in the series.
In Davison’s five starts, his best result came on his first try, taking fifteenth place at the 2013 Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio. His best finish so far at the Brickyard is sixteenth, earned in the 2014 race whilst driving for KV Racing Technology. For his most recent run, in 2017, Davison was called up late as a substitute driver for Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, who was badly injured in a hard crash during qualifying. Despite having started thirty-third, Davison managed to lead two laps during the race and was running well until a crash within the last twenty laps saw him retire from the race; earning an eventual twentieth place result on the leaderboard.
Despite having retired from the race, Davison’s performance in last year’s Indy 500 was enough to attract the attention of the Byrd brothers, who then set about putting together a deal to get him into this year’s race. This time around, Davison will be hoping to better that result as he returns to Indianapolis for his fourth attempt:
“I am honoured to be driving for the legendary A.J. Foyt with Byrd-Hollinger-Belardi at the Indianapolis 500,” said Davison after today’s announcement, “This will be my first full two-week program in the four years that I have been a part of the event now. We have expectations to meet and I cannot wait to get after it.”
To run the third car for Davison, A.J. Foyt Enterprises will be partnering with Jonathan Byrd Racing – who most recently competed in the Indy 500 with the late Bryan Clauson in 2015 and 2016 – as well as Belardi Auto Racing, who currently compete in the Indy Lights championship.
“I’m happy to be joining with Byrd, Hollinger, and Belardi for this entry,” Larry Foyt, president of A.J. Foyt Enterprises, said today. “They have worked hard to ensure we will have the resources for a strong program. James has shown he can do a great job at Indianapolis and I think this entry will be a great addition to this year’s 500.”
Whilst this is the first time that Belardi Auto Racing has taken part in the 500, and only the second time for Hollinger, Jonathan Byrd is no stranger to the race; especially when it comes to partnering with A.J. Foyt. The pair first collaborated back in 1994 to field John Andretti.
“The Byrd family is excited to once again partner with the AJ Foyt Racing team, together with Brad Hollinger and Brian Belardi, to give James Davison the opportunity to win the Indy 500,” said David Byrd, one of Jonathan Byrd Racing’s team principals. “Based on what we have seen so far this season, A.J. and Larry and everybody here has things on the right track, and we can’t wait to see what the month of May brings.”
“I worked with Jonathan Byrd years ago, and he was a swell guy,” added A.J. Foyt. “It’s a small world and I’m just glad to be working with his boys, Jonathan and David. As for James, I know Larry has liked him since he met him when he was running Indy Lights. I’ve heard a lot about him and watched him run here at Indy and he’s run pretty good, so I’m looking forward to working with him.”
The first practice for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place on Tuesday, May 15. Qualifying will take place on May 19-20. Qualifying will be all the more important this year, as the number of entries is now at thirty-five with only thirty-three set to race, meaning that some drivers may be eliminated in qualifying. The race itself will take place on May 27.