SALINAS, Calif — The AJ Foyt Racing cars have taken a liking to repaved circuits. Back in June at Road America, Santino Ferrucci qualified 11th and finished 16th in his No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet. It was his second-best qualifying effort of the season behind a fourth-place effort for May’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Now, on another track with a recent repave in Laguna Seca, the Connecticut native is having another stellar weekend.
Ferrucci matched his best qualifying performance on a road course since Road America in June when he qualified 11th in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet on Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The performance was a true team effort as the crew led by Didier Francesia had to change the engine after Ferrucci stopped on track in practice less than three hours before. The result of that unscheduled engine change is that Ferrucci incurred a six-position grid penalty so he will start 17th tomorrow.
Ferrucci’s time of 1 minute, 7.4479 seconds (119.452 mph) is the quickest he has run all weekend.
“It’s honestly been a great weekend so far to start. Obviously, we qualified P11 after a motor change, no install, really rushing and pushing, so it is really impressive from the team’s side and yeah just kind of rewarding to qualify 11th,” Ferrucci said. “Probably could have gotten to tenth or ninth if I had just put in the perfect lap but we still have got to work away at it. We’re still missing something on the reds [Firestone’s alternate compound tire], but we definitely learned something from session one to session two from the team side. But we’ll see what we can do from the race starting 17th.”
Ferrucci says that they’re better on primary tires and that’s probably where they’ll run the most on for Sunday’s 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season finale on the scenic California road course.
While the grid-penalty is costly in terms of early race track position, with this being a season finale and drivers taking more risks without much to lose, Ferrucci is hopeful that patience can help him make up spots on others’ mistakes.
“It’s hard to pass, so you’re kind of banking on people to make mistakes,” he continued. “It’s also the final race of the season so for sure, people are going to crash trying to pass.”
As a result, Ferrucci thinks they have a chance for a top 10 finish, something he’s done just once this season (3rd at Indy). He does have finishes of 13th and 16th in the last two weeks which outside of an 11th place run in Long Beach and 3rd for the Indy 500, are his best finishes of the season, especially in two straight races.
“Just have to stay clean and try and bring home a top-10 or top-15. If we’re lucky and play our cards right, a top-10.”
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