Race Report: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 10, 2023) -- "Another one bites the dust!" That is what Santino Ferrucci said after the seventh of eight cautions that slowed the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Thirty-five of the 95 laps were run under caution.
Unfortunately, neither Ferrucci, who had run as high as third in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet, nor his teammate Benjamin Pedersen were able to avoid the carnage that plagued the race.
Ferrucci managed to avoid it at the start and advanced from 17th to ninth as did Pedersen who climbed from 23rd to 12th. However, a lap later, Pedersen got tagged by Scott McLaughlin and had to pit for a punctured tire but he didn't lose a lap.
The first caution was triggered by trouble at the front as Ferrucci nd Pedersen were able to slip through.
Ferrucci stayed trouble free until after his second pit stop on lap 59 which put him 17th because of the way the fuel strategies were cycling out at that point. A caution right before the end of his fuel stint also contributed to landing him in the middle of the pack as he needed to pit under caution putting him behind those who'd pitted just laps before him.
On the lap 62 restart, Ferrucci was on the outside as cars started to check up on the inside going into Turn 11. He couldn't avoid the bottleneck and Ferrucci rode over a wheel and launched into the air, coming to a stop in the dirt with damage to the front wing.
He lost a lap before he got restarted and had the nose and front wing replaced. At that point the goal changed from contending for a top-five to just finish the race. He placed 17th.
“Honestly it was going to be a solid day and an easy top-10 finish for the team," said Ferrucci, the frustration clearly evident in his voice. "On that restart, they checked up on the bottom, and when they started to crash, one of the cars came out and jumped in front of me and I had nowhere to go. Overall, the team did a fantastic job all day, it’s just a shame that we have nothing to show for it.”
Pedersen was caught up in several incidents, having been tagged from behind as cars in front of him checked up.
“Definitely one of the craziest races of the whole year," said Pedersen. "Happy to have finished it. Finished p16 so one of our better road course results for the year. I think we had quite a bit in the bank still but unfortunately got hit on one of the restarts and cycled to the back. I think if that wouldn’t have happened, we were on track to be P-7 or right around there. With such a crazy race happening, to have finished p16, which is one of our better results, I’m pretty pleased to finish the year that way--and also helping Chevrolet get the manufacturer’s championship. Looking forward to next year.”
Scott Dixon won his 56th race In the NTT INDYCAR Series; he won three of the final four races this season. Rounding out the top five were Scott McLaughlin, Alex Palou, Will Power and Callum Ilott. Chevrolet edged out Honda to win the engine manufacturer's title.