Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Feuding `Little Al,' `Emmo' Family Now

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Feuding `Little Al,' `Emmo' Family Now

Article excerpt

Their feud hasn't included finger-pointing and name-calling, but Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi have had their share of scrapes over the years.

Flashback to the 1989 Indianapolis 500:

"Emmo" leads the first 34 laps and looks like the man to beat, even though Michael Andretti comes on strong in the middle of the race. Near the end of the chase, it comes down to a battle between Fittipaldi, a two-time Formula One champion, and young Unser, whose dad has won this famous race four times.

"Little Al" grabs the lead on the 196th lap, with Fittipaldi staying right behind him. They easily glide by some slower cars, but a massive traffic jam looms ahead.

Into the third turn on the next-to-last lap, they fly. The Valvoline No. 2 car, piloted by Unser, and the Marlboro No. 20 machine, driven by Fittipaldi, are on a collison course.

"I had my front end in front," Unser recalls. "I don't think Emmo is going to lift (slow down), and this being the biggest race in the world, I wasn't going to lift."

The cars bang wheels. Fittipaldi saves his and keeps going and wins the million-dollar prize and all the fame that goes with the Indy 500. Unser's car spins and hits the wall.

The two drivers have had other on-track skirmishes, as recently as Sept. 12 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when the wheels of their cars touched and almost locked together.

With Thursday's announcement that Unser had signed with the Roger Penske team, the feud between "Little Al" and "Emmo" now is family. They are teammates.

So how is this going to work out?

"I don't know," Unser said. "Emerson Fittipaldi is a fierce competitor. Being teammates, I think you should allow a little bit more room between you, of course. But not enough to where it would change your line or anything like that. Me and Emerson, I'm sure, will be racing each other just as much as we did before. I just hope that we don't touch each other like we have been."

Unser not only has Fittipaldi as a new teammate, he also will be sharing garage space with young Paul Tracy, who won five IndyCar races this season and probably should have won two more. …

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