Ferrucci’s aggression and old-school approach appeal to Foyt
There is a very simple reason why AJ Foyt Racing has chosen Santino Ferrucci to drive the #14 Chevrolet for the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
“Regardless of the situation, he’s moving forward on race day,” said team president Larry Foyt. “That’s what I really liked. When you look at it, INDYCAR qualifying is so tough, especially with the knockout qualifying on the road courses, you have to get a perfect lap, get your tire pressure right there. Some days you have to come from behind.
“Even when he had to deal with that, I was really impressed with how he came up front. Even with limited training, he did a really good job.
Ferrucci, 24, hasn’t been part of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES full-time since 2020. He’s spent most of the past two years with occasional departures bouncing between the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, as well than participation in the Chili Bowl Nationals. .
In 2022, he recorded two top 10 finishes in three unique appearances in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (ninth at Texas Motor Speedway), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (10th at the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge) and Juncos Hollinger Racing, and he was also on call for Team Penske after Josef Newgarden crashed at Iowa Speedway in July.
“The last few years for me, including this year, it’s all been on merit for me,” Ferrucci said. “I had a sponsorship the first year I got into INDYCAR, kinda with the second year. After that, it was really tough with COVID for me. That’s kind of the reason we switched a bit in NASCAR, because I had to find partners who preferred that. Besides, I wanted to try. There is a reason why you saw me there.
“For me, being as young as I am, having these part-time rides, replacing kids who unfortunately get injured, is really the only thing that kept me going.”
One significant stat that has undoubtedly caught the attention of AJ Foyt Racing is that Ferrucci has finished in the top 10 in each of his four Indianapolis 500 appearances, including a career-best fourth in 2020.
“I know this race, in particular, I will always have a chance,” Ferrucci said.
Ferrucci, a Connecticut native, will be the second newcomer to the Foyt team in 2023, joining Indy Lights graduate Benjamin Pedersen. Ferrucci may only have 43 career starts in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES over five seasons, but that experience will prove invaluable in helping to move the Foyt team forward and also help Pedersen in his rookie season.
“Coming back full time and riding for Larry is an honor,” said Ferrucci. “It’s so difficult for drivers in my current position trying to get through it, otherwise we’re going to flip burgers. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity.
“I’m ready to work as hard as ever to show that we can do it as a team and it was the right decision for everyone involved, all the returning partners, who want to be part of this deal.
Aside from his ability to stay on the gas, Ferrucci’s diverse runs echo past seasons’ calls for team owner AJ Foyt, a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner. The legendary Foyt remains the only driver in history to have won the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Rolex 24 At Daytona.
AJ Foyt was also legendary for working on his cars, even after computers started playing as big of a role in setting up cars as keys and the seat of pants. Ferrucci has a similar background, as he said he raced during his go-kart career in a van and turned keys on his kart.
“Having the basics, I’m not the typical driver who doesn’t get my hands dirty,” Ferrucci said. “There are a lot of people today who can’t even drive a stick, which is mind-boggling to me. I have a very old-school mentality. I want to be in the weeds like everyone else, working on things, making sure everyone does it together.
“It’s a team, man, at the end of the day. I am one party among many others. We have to operate as a team.