Originally published by IndyStar.
INDIANAPOLIS — AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci didn’t mind the three red flags in the last 30 laps of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
In fact, it was something that kept the No. 14 driver sane.
“The coolest thing about the red flags was I could hear the announcer, and one of the things that kind of kept me sane and really part of the reason why I was also so emotional was because every time they called the 14 car to win, it was incredibly loud around this place,” Ferrucci said. “More so than anything else I’ve ever heard.”
Ferrucci finished third at the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 — the best finish for the team named for the legendary racer since Eliseo Salazar’s 3rd-place showing in 2000.
Ferrucci’s top-3 finish signifies AJ Foyt Racing, which hasn’t won an IndyCar series event since 2013, is nearing the end of its rebuild.
AJ Foyt Racing hasn’t had a lot of success in recent years, with the team’s last IndyCar Series victory coming in 2013 when Takuma Sato won the Long Beach Grand Prix.
But Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen, AJ Foyt Racing’s other full-time driver, catapulted the team back into contention in 2023. The pair qualified for the Fast 12, marking the first time AJ Foyt Racing had a top-12 qualifier at the 500 since 2018.
By the end of qualifying, Ferrucci qualified fourth on the grid. Pedersen was 11th – the top rookie out of four in the 500 this year.
So, the entire AJ Foyt Racing team was rooting for a victory by the time race day came around.
“Just emotional, bittersweet,” Ferrucci said. “It was emotional getting in the car, which was kind of strange because you feel like there’s a lot of people that really want this, the team really wants this. We worked so hard to be where we were. We ran out front all day long. It’s definitely one of the more difficult races that I’ve probably ever run, and just, we also knew that we had a really good car.”
Ferrucci led 11 of the 200 laps of the 500 on Sunday. Throughout the end of the race, he traded spots with eventual winner Josef Newgarden and Marcus Ericcson, avoiding all five crashes that took place during the race.
Pedersen wasn’t so lucky in the No. 55 Chevrolet, getting in a crash with Ed Carpenter in the final five laps of the race. Pedersen was restarting after another crash, and he said cars instantly bunched up.
“Not much I could’ve done different coming out of Turn 4 on the restart,” Pedersen said. “There were literally cars sideways in front of me, so I had to check up, otherwise I would’ve punted right into them.”
Pedersen’s crash didn’t take him out of the rookie of the year race, however. None of the four rookies — Pedersen, RC Enerson, Sting Ray Robb, and Agustin Canapino — finished the race, and Pedersen lasted the longest.
Pedersen officially finished 21st out of 33 cars on the grid.
“It’s just unfortunate, I thought we had a very good chance of getting into the top 15,” Pedersen said. “But it was out of my control, I couldn’t have done anything different. So, I just learned everything I could this race, being my first 500, it’s been a tremendous month.”
AJ Foyt Racing didn’t find its long-awaited Indy 500 victory Sunday. But with the top finish for the team since 2000, Ferrucci is confident in the future.
“At the end of the day, I’m really happy with the way that things played out,” Ferrucci said. “This place does pick you as a winner. It’s very true. But I just really wanted to win this race, like everybody else. We’ll come back next year, probably a little stronger.”
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