Race Report: PPG 375
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 2, 2023) -- It was good news and bad news for AJ Foyt Racing in the PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway. Sunday afternoon. The cars were fast but gremlins wiped out chances for top-10 finishes for both cars which showed speed in the early stages of the race.
Rookie Benjamin Pedersen overcame some issues in the No. 55 Sexton Properties Chevrolet to finish 15th in his first ever race on the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
“The first INDYCAR race that we finished -- P 15. Honestly pretty ecstatic with that -- my first ever INDYCAR oval car was in one piece. I learned a lot and it's the longest race I've ever done. Yeah, very, very happy about 15th for my first ever finish on an oval in an INDYCAR race.”
Having started 13th, he explained why his second stop took longer than usual.
"The second stop was not what we wanted but that was because the brake was so long that it went completely to the floor," the 23-year-old rookie said. "I pumped it coming into the entry of three and I thought it would be good and then when I came to a stop the pedal went completely to the floor. I simply couldn't slow the car down because it wasn't there and that's why I went long. I felt like an idiot but it was the brake, and then I made the adjustment. Then after that, we made a pit stop right away under yellow and actually jumped three cars which was awesome by the whole team.
"There were things I definitely could do better for the future but I'm still just learning," he continued. "I had a great, great time. I feel very fit. I was just a little bit dizzy getting out of the car from the sake of going in a circle for 250 laps."
Starting 14th in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet, Santino Ferrucci dropped back at the start but after an adjustment on the first pit stop, he moved up four spots to 12th and was gaining ground on 11th.
"We had a ton of speed today in our Sexton Properties Chevrolet," said Ferrucci. During the race, he radioed to his strategist Larry Foyt, "We are so much faster than everyone else--this is really good." Foyt told Ferrucci that his laps were faster than the leaders' at that point.
Several laps later Ferrucci started to drop back and he radioed in that his head pad slipped from the head rest.
"For whatever reason the head pad on the right side, which is most important to the driver because of the G forces here, the Velcro melted and the head pad slipped down," Ferrucci explained. "It lodged under my helmet and had my head looking out and up at the track. So we were a little inconsistent but we weren't really losing too much time. By the time we got it sorted on pit lane, we lost the clutch. So that's actually the reason why we went from one lap back to four. It was nothing other than just something mechanical that was out of our control. We definitely gave away a pretty easy top 10 today."
Ferrucci placed 21st.
Josef Newgarden won the race after a tight battle with Pato O'Ward which saw the duo trade the lead several times in the closing laps. However, on lap 249, Romain Grosjean spun and hit the wall and brought out the caution. Grosjean escaped uninjured. Newgarden took top honors as the checkered and yellow flags waved simultaneously. Following Newgarden across the line were O'Ward, Alex Palou, David Malukas and Scott Dixon.
The NTT INDYCAR Series returns to action in two weeks in southern California with the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 16th.