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Notes & Quotes: PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway

Santino Ferrucci joined AJ Foyt Racing to drive the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet in the NTT INDYCAR Series this year. Ferrucci's resume includes several seasons in Europe competing in go-karts and then in the Formula 1 ladder system before coming back to race Indy cars in the U.S.A. In his first Indianapolis 500 (and first race on an oval track), he finished seventh, earning the 2019 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award just before his 23rd birthday. In his first race at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks later, he finished fourth. We asked him a few questions...

What sparked your interest in racing? How did you start out and when did you decide to try to make a career of it?

SF: "I've always been interested in racing since I was five years old. I decided to make a career out of it when I realized that I was really good at driving a go-kart and I was pretty fearless at the age of 5."

Ferrucci at speed in the go-karts at age 13 (2012).

When and where was the first professional race you saw? Had you been to an INDYCAR race before driving in one?

SF: "The first professional race I saw was Formula One in Monza -- at least that's the first one I remember. We were just into F1 and we had a family trip to Italy so we just went to attend the race. I think it was 2005. After I started racing in GP3 I was attending a lot more F1 events. My first INDYCAR race was Toronto in 2008, that was a cool race because that's where I first met Dario Franchitti. I met Dario and Dan Wheldon in a similar time. I definitely looked up to Dan as he was more involved with go-karts and I saw him more often."

What was your ultimate goal when you started racing? What are your goals now?

SF: "My ultimate goal when I started my racing career was to go into Formula One. My current goals are to win the Indianapolis 500 along with the championship."

Your resume includes being a test/reserve driver for Haas's F-1 team. Did you drive the Haas car or was it mostly sim testing?

SF: "I got to drive both iterations of the HAAS Formula One cars in 2016 and 2017. It was probably one of the coolest cars I ever got to drive in my career. The raw speed of the F1 car in corners and on braking is just insane compared to every other car, even though the Indy car has a faster top speed. I did get to spend some time in the Ferrari Sim (simulator). Actually, just being in that facility was really cool as I grew up a Michael Schumacher fan."

Ferrucci testing the Haas Formula 1 car during his stint as a test driver for the American


You adapted to ovals very quickly--finishing 7th as a rookie in the Indy 500--your first ever oval track race. Did you find it daunting? What is it about your style that makes you strong on ovals?

SF: "I think I adapted to ovals very quickly because I'm not afraid of the wall. It's one of those things to where I just had an initial feeling and understanding of the car and I just went with it."

You make the trip down to the Houston area race shop once a week...what do you gain by those visits?

SF: "Making the trips down to race shop [in Waller, Texas] once a week is very important to me. I get to bond with my crew and I get to see the progress of our car before and after each event. I spend time with Larry and A.J., which is pretty awesome. A.J. always has some wild stories to tell, so it's always worth the drive."

Ferrucci waves to fans at season opener. (INDYCAR Photo)

The first oval race of the season is at your “home” track - how thrilled are you to be back racing at Texas Motor Speedway?

SF: "I'm super excited to be racing in Texas; I like the track and the racing it provides. I do miss that it is no longer a night race -- now it's run in late morning. I just wish we could promote the race more to get more fans at the racetrack to see how much fun Texas can be."

In addition to hosting family and friends at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, you organized a car show too?

SF: "Yes, we have a car show coming to TMS--there will be over 200 cars and as many as 400 people coming. They'll be set up in the Fan Zone so hopefully there will be a lot of rare exotic cars for people to see!"

Santino at one of the car shows he has organized in the past.

In your three attempts at Texas, one was a DNF due to a mechanical failure, but the other two finishes were 4th (in your debut here with DCR) and 9th last year for RLL Racing when you subbed for Jack Harvey on Race Day. With only six laps under your belt that morning, you started last and fought your way up the grid.

SF: "Last year at TMS was honestly a lot of fun. It was really exciting to just hop in an Indy car and take the green flag. One of the things that helped was actually not getting practice in all of my Xfinity starts in 2021. I hadn't turned a practice lap in that car the entire season -- every lap I did was under green so getting to do it in an Indy car at Texas was definitely an uphill challenge. I felt everybody did a really good job that day and it was really cool to start dead last and finish in the top 10."

Ferrucci competed in NASCAR's Xfinity Series on a part-time basis in 2021-22.

Will you approach this race differently than you have in the past?

SF: "I don't think I'll approach this race any different than I've approached every other race. I know that we're good at Texas so it'll be the same as to how I approach other tracks, and that's just getting seat time, staying consistent, and making it to the finish because, if we do that, we'll be in a good spot."

At what point in the Race does running the high line come into play? Is the groove available to you at the start or later in the race?

SF: "I think the second groove is always available as long as it's swept clean and people are driving on it. One of the things that I learned is that if you want to run the second groove and nobody's up there, you're kind of the sole man and to keep the marbles off of it, you have to be running it more consistently. That said, if there is a caution or on the race start and that second groove is available and I can pass people, I will be up there."

Biggest challenge about racing at TMS?

SF: "The starts are probably the most challenging because it can be pretty hectic. I think a lot of people get scared and check up, so if we can just be ahead of all of those people, we should be pretty good."

Best restaurant in the area?

SF: "It's hard to pick a best restaurant in the area because there so many good ones. In Fort Worth, I would probably go with Joe T's, and in Dallas I would say it's between Nick & Sam's Steakhouse, Javier's [Gourmet Mexicano] and oishii."

Tex-Mex or Texas BBQ?

SF: "Definitely a fan of Tex-Mex."

Favorite local place(s) to visit that you would recommend?

SF: "The George Bush Presidential Library, the Katy Trail and stop in at the Ice House, and the Fort Worth Stockyards."

Growing up Connecticut, what surprised you about living in Dallas? And what's your favorite thing about living in Dallas?

SF: "In Dallas, I feel like you can get just about anything, it's also super easy to get anywhere. My favorite thing though is probably that there's no personal income tax and they support all of their athletes because it's a huge sports city."

What do you do in your spare time? What interests do you have outside of racing?

SF: "I like to play golf, work on my go karts, and my road cars. I also have two dogs "Kodak" (Yellow Labrador Retriever) and "Kleo" (Great Dane) which keep me fairly occupied!"

Santino with his fiancée Renay Moore and his dogs Kleo (Great Dane on the left) and Kodak.

Ferrucci Fast Facts: Age 24...Born in Woodbury, CT...Lives in Dallas, Texas...Began racing karts at age 5, moved to cars in 2013...Competed in Formula 2000, British Formula 3, GP3 finishing third at Spa Francorchamps as a rookie, was development driver for Haas F1 team for three years (2016-2018), moved to Formula 2 in 2018...moved to NTT INDYCAR Series in 2019 finishing 13th in standings for Dale Coyne and won Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after finishing seventh...13th in standings again with fourth place finish in the 500...drove part-time in 2021-22 but maintained top-10 streak in Indy 500 with finishes of sixth (RLL Racing) and 10th (Dreyer Reinbold Racing)...Competed part-time in NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021-22.

BENJAMIN PEDERSEN: "I'm really looking forward to this upcoming race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Our rookie test there went very well. I was very comfortable around there and look forward to coming back to the race weekend. It'll be exciting. It will be a great atmosphere and a tough race but I'm really looking forward to getting back on track."

Pedersen Fast Facts: Age 23...Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, moved to Seattle at age 4 and is now living in Indianapolis...Began racing karts at a young age and has competed and won races in the INDY NXT by Firestone Series, British Formula 3, FR Americas Championship, F4 US Championship...Enjoys golf, pickleball, skiing, soccer, snowmobiling, mountain biking, dirt biking.

Fulcrum Technology Solutions returns as an associate sponsor for the race weekend in Texas. Located in Houston, Texas, Fulcrum Technology Solutions is a consulting firm that specializes in managed IT infrastructure and cybersecurity services. While managed Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Security Operations Center (SOC) solutions are the fastest growing part of their business, they continue to provide premier professional services and products to their longstanding clients.

Muenster Milling signed on as an associate sponsor for this race. The company is a 4th-generation, family-owned-and-operated animal food manufacturer located in Muenster, TX. Since 1932, they’ve built lasting, impactful relationships with farmers, suppliers, customers, communities, and animals

by leading with integrity. Muenster Milling follows a strict code of ethics when it comes to animal diets, giving pets the best food they can make. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible so they can verify what goes into their food and ensure the highest quality. They test ingredients and finished products to ensure their quality standards are met. They make innovative, extruded animal food that allows for maximum availability and absorption of nutrients so animals can perform optimally and live a healthier life.

LARRY FOYT on racing at Texas: “Honestly, this feels almost like it’s still our first race of the season. With both cars out on lap 1 at St. Pete, there are so many things we haven’t experienced this season like restarts and pit stops. It feels good going to Texas, especially with Benjamin testing well there, so there is a cautious optimism going in. It’s in our home state, A.J. will be there, and we are working hard to have a good result in front of our hometown fans.”

A.J. FOYT makes his first appearance of the season after missing the winter testing and season opener. The 88-year-old Houstonian has been dealing with some health issues lately but is on the mend. He had a pacemaker installed on March 7th. "It's been a while since I've been going to the races. I'm glad I'm getting well enough to go again and I look forward to going to Texas. I'm not 100% but going just to have some fun. You know, Texas is a funny race. We won the first one. We won the second one. We got credited for the second one, not the first one, but you got to run all day. It's a very tricky race track. And after halfway, you got to be careful because the track gets awful slick and that's when you see the wrecks."

Past performance at TMS: Santino Ferrucci has made three starts at Texas with his best finish of fourth coming in his first race at the 1.5-mile superspeedway in 2019. Rookie Benjamin Pedersen will make his first start on the oval after testing there earlier this month. A.J. Foyt’s team won the inaugural race with Billy Boat driving in 1997 but after a protest, the officials awarded the win to Arie Luyendyk after citing a scoring error. In 1998, Boat started alongside pole winner Tony Stewart and won the race. Boat’s teammate Kenny Brack finished third and went on to win the title that year.

Last Race: The season opener in St. Petersburg ended at Turn 3 on Lap 1 for the Foyt team. Ferrucci got caught up in the chain reaction checkup triggered by the contact between Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist. Pedersen also became involved as the track was blocked and he hit Devlin DeFrancesco's car launching it into the air. All drivers escaped injury but a total of five cars were unable to restart the race, including the Foyt team cars.

NBC Sports will broadcast the PPG 375 live starting at 12 noon ET. All practice sessions, qualifying rounds and the race will stream live on Peacock. The race and all practice and qualifying sessions will air live on INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates, SiriusXM INDYCAR Nation 160 and SiriusXM NBC Sports Audio 85 (Race only) and the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.


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