Foyt hires Manning to drive No. 14 car next season

Updated: November 15, 2006, 9:38 AM ET
Associated Press

Heading into his 50th anniversary season in IndyCar racing, A.J. Foyt has signed Darren Manning to drive the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda, with son Larry Foyt named as the new team director.

These changes are only two of several that Foyt is making in his team's operations to improve its chances of winning in what will be a signature season for Foyt. The team's only victory since 1999 was by Airton Dare at Kansas Speedway in 2002.

"Next year is a big year for our team," the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 said. "We're doing everything we can to get our program where it needs to be. My son Larry is a great asset to our team on the management side and we've worked hard to put together a solid plan for 2007.

"Part of that plan is hiring a driver who is experienced on ovals and road courses and who will work well with our sponsor. Darren Manning fits the bill. He runs hard and I think he wants to win as bad as I do."

Manning, 31, has 24 IRL starts with a best finish of fourth.

"I'm excited about returning to the IRL with A.J.'s team," the Englishman said. "Now everyone is running the same engines and mostly the same chassis, so the playing field is more equal. Plus, I have a lot of respect for A.J., and his team is putting a lot of effort into making next year one of their best. I think I can bring some good things to this team."

Larry Foyt, 29, began taking a more active role in the team in September when he moved back to Houston from North Carolina, where he had been living the past five years while pursuing a NASCAR career.

"We've been busy getting ready for next season," he said. "We're bringing in new people to join our crew, and hiring Darren Manning is part of that."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press