RACE REPORT: Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 18, 2023)--The promise of yesterday's qualifying didn't materialize into strong finishes in the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America for AJ Foyt Racing.
Despite promising starts for Santino Ferrucci in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet and Benjamin Pedersen in the No. 55 Sexton Properties Chevrolet, the rough and tumble nature of the race saw many off-track excursions amongst the 27-car field. Four full course cautions slowed the action before the halfway mark of the 55-lap race.
For the first half of the race, Ferrucci was solidly in the top-10 but a problem on his second pitstop which ballooned to 11.7 seconds saw him drop eight positions to 18th. On the restart, he lost four more positions avoiding a skirmish ahead of him.
He found himself in 22nd and attempted a pass entering Turn 6 but he hit an oil spill and slid into the grass. He eventually made it back on track but in 24th with a significant loss of track position.
Another stop on lap 41 went off in a clean 7.7 seconds and Ferrucci clawed his way back to 16th.
"We had a solid race car, we had a great couple of stints, made the red tire last which was important," said Ferrucci. "I was in the top 10, but then a malfunction with the pit gun on our second stop hurt us and put us back in the field. We came back and finished 16th with no yellows so pretty happy with the recovery, all in all."
Starting 10th, Pedersen's race got off to an unfortunate start as he was hit from behind and he got shuffled to the back of the field on the opening lap. The young rookie was able to climb back to 18th in the second half of the race but in the closing laps he dropped to 21st which is where he finished.
"Slightly tricky day today," said the Danish-American driver. "We unfortunately got hit from behind which made us go to the back of the field on the opening lap. We had a pretty good comeback mid-race to bring me forward to roughly p 18. But then in some exchanges and pitstops, we fell back a couple of positions. So we wrapped up p 21. But the damage was done from early on being pushed wide. Regardless, it was our best qualifying result of the whole year, we're making big improvements within the team and looking forward to Iowa testing this coming week."
Alex Palou won the race and padded his significant lead in the NTT INDYCAR Series standings. Second through fifth were Josef Newgarden, Pato O'Ward, Scott Dixon and pole winner Colton Herta.
The team heads to Iowa Speedway this week where it will be joined by 19 other cars as they test in preparation for next month's race at the high-banked oval.