Chevrolet Indycar at Thermal Club – Santino Ferrucci

Chevrolet Indycar at Thermal Club – Santino Ferrucci

As first published by Speedway Digest.

What are your thoughts on getting back into an Indy car this week?

“It’s going to be weird because I actually haven’t driven on a road course in INDYCAR in quite some time. Hopefully it’s like riding a bike and just comes right back to us. It’s been nice, though, to be with the team since September, so I kind of already feel like I’ve had a season before the season, so we’ll see what we can do.”

Being out for a season, you’ve had a little bit of racing in there, but what do you do? What’s the hardest part about staying sharp?

“You can only train so much before you start to go a little stir crazy. I think the coolest thing was now this year, I’ve been basically inside five INDYCAR teams. Starting off with Rahal, then Dreyer, then Juncos, then Penske, and at the very end, Foyt. It’s just kind of a weird way of seeing how operations work, which was kind of unique for me. I think it’s a really unique position as a driver to see. Then running the Chili Bowl actually was really nice because it knocked a lot of my timing, honed a lot of my timing because driving those cars, they’re very fast. They mimic racecars for setup, just in the reverse. Everything’s just a complete opposite, but it’s still a racecar. It really hones your feeling again. I’m really excited to get back into an Indy car.”

What do you feel is the biggest key in allowing [AJ Foyt Racing] to turn the corner here?

We just needed some organization. I had this chat with Larry [Foyt] a while ago. The team has all the fundamentals to really put a good car out there. If you look back at the results, they’re really not a reflection of the actual speed of the car, in my opinion. I think that having someone like Michael Cannon come on board to really help organize this team, put them on the right track, give them what he calls Racing 101, we just need some consistency. I think that was our biggest thing and that’s what we’re hoping to really find. I’d like to see this team back inside the top-10 consistently and then go from there. We’ve got to be a little bit realistic. It is tough coming off of where the team has finished in the last couple years, but we definitely can see a lot of rapid growth hopefully throughout the winter.”

Does it give you motivation knowing that you’re on the radar of the INDYCAR powerhouse teams now?

“It definitely makes you hungry and want more. I just want to do my best. I want to continue down the path I’m going because I think it’s the right path for me. Getting the opportunity to work with AJ [Foyt] and the team, and to take this team from where it is and to build something of my own with Michael and Larry is going to be nothing short of a challenge. But I’m really looking forward to that. I really think I’m up to that challenge now. It will be a reflection on all of us how we do this year because it’s not just on me, it’s not just on Michael Cannon, it’s not just on our leadership. It’s on everybody coming together as a team and making this effort, making a really good effort.”

How does it feel to be sitting at a team being the senior driver, and what does that mean to you about going forward in 2023?

“It’s definitely a unique position to be in. I’m very fortunate for Benjamin [Pederson]. He’s actually unlike some of the other rookies I’ve seen on the grid. He’s very willing to learn and he’s very, very into it. Working with him and spending some time with him, it’s going to be really good. His dad is a very brilliant person who came in when we needed organization while we were trying to get people like [Michael] Cannon on board, and he really put the base layer down. It’s not common that you see someone like that do something for a team like this. I’m very much looking forward to being the senior driver. I know that I am not even close to the same driver I was in 2019 and 2020 as I am today. The way that I drive, the way that I get feedback, the way that I know what I want out of the car, I kind of hopefully can speed his progression up the best I can with my knowledge while getting us working in unison. We really need to be a team to get this thing accomplished.”

What are your goals for the test at Thermal this week?

“I’ve got to knock the rust off because I haven’t seen a road course in INDYCAR in quite some time. We’re going to have a little bit of fun just getting used to track. We want to make sure that we have our road course car set to look forward to Barber, and to get through some fundamental testing. It’s a new team, I’m new to them. We have a bunch of new engineering and other structure, so we’ve got to get into the rhythm of working with each other, the chain of command. Communication will be huge. Once we get through that, I think this two-day test will be more about understanding each other and making sure everything’s good with the car more than anything else.”

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