Santino Ferrucci is once again a full-time driver in the NTT INDYCAR Series as he has been named to pilot the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet in 2023. Ferrucci is the latest hire for the legendary team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.
Last week, AJ Foyt Racing announced that Benjamin Pedersen would make his INDYCAR debut in a Chevrolet-powered Dallara fielded out of their Indianapolis race shop.
For the last two years, Ferrucci seemed to be the “go-to” guy when race teams needed a substitute driver. While appreciative to receive the calls, Ferrucci is thrilled he won’t be available for subbing in 2023.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full-time,” said Ferrucci. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a racecar driver and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”
Team President Larry Foyt consulted with his famous father about bringing Ferrucci into the fold for 2023. The senior Foyt had chatted with the curly-haired youngster on several occasions this year and liked his attitude.
“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said. “He’s shown a knack for getting towards the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”
“It’s going to be a very unique opportunity to work with both A.J. and Larry closely to build a new program,” he said. “To race for a legend like A.J. Foyt — it’s a dream come true. I like to think of myself as an “old school” driver who likes loose race cars and gets behind the wheel of anything with four wheels and an engine. So driving for a guy like A.J., knowing that he drove everything throughout his career, it’s going to be a chance of a lifetime for me.”
The Connecticut native made his debut in America’s premier open wheel series in 2018 when Dale Coyne Racing tapped him to drive for Pietro Fittipaldi, who was injured in a sports car crash. Until then, Ferrucci had been focused on driving in Formula 1, having moved to Europe at the age of 14 to compete in various junior formulas. Ferrucci holds the record for the youngest British Formula 3 Series winner at the age of 16 and has also raced in the FIA Formula 2 Championship. He has also driven for the Haas F1 team as a development driver from 2017-2018.
“INDYCAR became my goal after leaving F1 in 2018,” Ferrucci revealed. “I finished up my season in Europe and was asked to fill in for Pietro (Fittipaldi) in the Detroit Grand Prix. I instantly fell in love with the cars, the style of racing and the people. That’s when I knew that INDYCAR needed to be my new home.”
Ferrucci signed a full season deal with Dale Coyne Racing in 2019 and earned Rookie of the Year honors in his first Indianapolis 500 after finishing seventh. Since, he has competed in three additional Indianapolis 500 races, and Ferrucci has never finished outside of the top-10. In 2020, Ferrucci had his best finish of fourth.
When a full season ride didn’t materialize in 2021, Ferrucci found himself in the role of an INDYCAR “supersub” driver. However, Ferrucci didn’t sit idle waiting for the phone to ring. He inked a deal to drive for Sam Hunt in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – making nine starts over the last two years. In just his second start, he had a career- best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Ferrucci participated in the 2021 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals where 300-plus midgets race over the course of six nights on a quarter-mile clay track inside the Tulsa, Okla. Expo Center. Ferrucci didn’t make it to the final 24 car field, but his debut in midgets was memorable enough that he’s interested in doing it again.
When Ferrucci was asked if his varied experience helped him to adapt quickly to the Indy car, he replied, “Yes and no. I’ve driven everything from dirt cars to stock cars to go-karts to Indy cars to F1 cars, and driving Indy cars demands a very unique driving style. It’s definitely the type of car where uncomfortable is fast — and it’s very hard to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Apparently the 24-year-old has figured out how to enjoy being uncomfortably fast, as he added, “There’s nothing like being on a short oval ripping through the gears three-wide at a place like Iowa Speedway or going 240mph at Indy. There’s just nothing like that in existence anywhere else in motorsports. Bring on 2023.”
And that is something his 87-year-old boss can appreciate.