Ferrucci, Resurgent Foyt Drive into May with Eyes on Victory

  • Racing News
Santino Ferrucci

The calendar flipped to May earlier in the week, and while everyone in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES was excited to see it – that means action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is coming quickly – few were as happy as Santino Ferrucci and AJ Foyt Racing.

And here’s the thing: They were plenty pleased with the way April ended.

Since the Foyt team and Ferrucci first paired at the start of last season, last weekend’s Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix powered by AmFirst at Barber Motorsports Park was their best road course outing. Despite starting 17th, Ferrucci worked his way up to finish seventh, his highest finish on a street or road course since the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear in 2021, when he finished sixth.

Ferrucci pitted on Lap 7, the first of four full-course caution periods. The driver of the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet not only cycled to the lead on Lap 31, he delivered his fastest lap of the race on Lap 34.

Later, with pole sitter and eventual race winner Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske in hot pursuit, Ferrucci led 10 laps before making his final pit stop on Lap 66.

“Man, we had a fast Sexton Properties Chevy,” he said after the race. “(I) got all the way up to the lead, (and) the strategy was phenomenal.”

Ferrucci described the team’s performance as “nailing” it.

“If it weren’t for the late-race caution at the end, we would have had a nice top-five (finish),” he said. “That’s racing for us, and we’re looking forward to going to the (Sonsio Grand Prix at IMS) with this momentum.”

The Sonsio Grand Prix has practice and qualifying on Friday, May 10, with the 85-lap race at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, May 11 on NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

It wasn’t just that Ferrucci had a fast car at Barber, he drove like a contender for the race win. He had a memorable battle with Colton Herta early in the race, contact that pushed the series points leader off line.

Team president Larry Foyt was impressed and was quick to give Ferrucci a fist bump on pit lane even before the driver removed his helmet.

“Santino drove a great race and the crew nailed (the) pit stops, giving us a chance for a (top-three) finish, maybe better,” Foyt said. “You never know how the yellows will fall, and it cost us a little.”

Ferrucci had another top-10 finish – ninth in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. He already has more such finishes – two – than he had last season. A year ago, his third-place finish in the “500” was easily his best result of 2023. The combination of results has him 10th in the standings – four points from being eighth – after three official races.

There are many factors that change year over year, but one of the most significant is the team’s new technical alliance with Team Penske, and Ferrucci called the benefits “dramatic.” That will be an interesting dynamic to watch on the Indy oval.

While Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” last May thanks to a last-lap pass of Marcus Ericsson, it was Ferrucci who was lurking behind them, set to pounce if an opportunity presented itself.

Ferrucci twice led the race for a combined 11 laps, the latest on Lap 168. It wasn’t a one-time competitive showing, either. Ferrucci has finished in the top 10 of all five of his “500s” while driving for four different teams.

Ferrucci drove from 23rd to finish seventh with Dale Coyne Racing in 2019, then returned in a Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan entry in 2020 to finish fourth after starting 19th. In 2021, he finished sixth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing after starting 23rd, and then in 2022 he went from 15th to 10th for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Last year was his best month, starting fourth and running in the top five for most of the race.

Ferrucci has led four of his five “500s,” and he has arguably the strongest record over that period of any driver scheduled to compete later this month.

Of course, May has been the signature month of AJ Foyt Racing, with the team’s owner winning four times as a driver and Kenny Brack taking them to Victory Lane in 1999. It’s Ferrucci’s favorite month, too. Both are happy that the calendar has flipped.

“(I’ve) replayed the last restart (of last year’s race) and trust me, I still lose sleep over it,” Ferrucci said, smiling.