Rookies steal the spotlight in Texas

Image by Abbott/LAT

Rookies steal the spotlight in Texas


Rookies steal the spotlight in Texas


IndyCar’s rookie class of 2019 continued to show their talents Saturday night at Texas where Santino Ferrucci and Marcus Ericsson finished fourth and seventh respectively in their debut on the daunting 1.5-mile oval.

Ferrucci, who won Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis in his oval debut with a seventh place, charged from 18th to take fourth in Dale Coyne’s Cly-Del Honda.

“For someone who had no experience on ovals, I’m starting to say I love them,” said the 21-year-old Connecticut native. “I’m happy with a fourth place. After Indy, knowing what kind of car we had, how hard our crew has been working and how much power we have from Honda as well, I knew we could do something special here, regardless of what happened in qualifying, and we did.”

Third-placed Graham Rahal paid a compliment.

“Ferrucci did a good job, drove a smart race and was fun to race with,” he said.

He moved into 12th place by Lap 100 then, after falling back to 13th, stormed top to seventh by Lap 219. On the final restart with 12 laps remaining he was fifth, and then passed Ryan Hunter-Reay for fourth.

“I can’t thank my crew enough,” said Ferrucci, who is now the highest-placed rookie in the points. “We had a stellar crew in the pits, they did fantastic stops, and we just made our way to the front while avoiding a couple of incidents in front of us.

“I can’t thank my spotter Pancho (Carter) enough to get me to push my limits in the car, coaching me throughout the race. To bring home a top five, my first one in the IndyCar Series, feels pretty good. Michael Cannon (engineer) gave me a good car to drive all night.”

Coming off his initial podium at Detroit, Ericsson started 14th in the Arrow SPM Honda and steadily worked his way up the order while driving a smart race.

“Starting from 14th today was not the best starting position,” said the 28-year-old Swede. ” I was trying to be patient out there and just sort of focusing on each car in front of us, one after the other, and moving our way up through the field. I think we did a good job there. The Arrow car was very consistent throughout the whole race, and that made me feel confident. The Arrow guys had great pit stops and we had a good strategy.

“We had some bad luck with the yellow flags at the end, but fortunately we had some fuel there to push to the end. I’m still super-happy and proud of P7 at my first Texas Motor Speedway race. My first goal coming into the weekend was to finish the race. My second goal was to get a top 10, so to be seventh is a great result.”