Santino Ferrucci has made a habit of overperforming on ovals, and in the latest installment for the Connecticut native, he went from mingling in the paddock on Saturday, chatting with home state legend A.J. Foyt, to getting the late call to substitute for the injured Jack Harvey (pictured at left, above, with Ferrucci) in the No. 45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda he drove last year.
Ruled out of racing after failing IndyCar’s post-impact concussion test, Harvey was relegated to the sidelines as the RLL team assembled a new No. 45 Honda entry to replace the one destroyed in the Briton’s crash on Saturday. Ferrucci, who was in the running to get the drive that was ultimately given to Harvey, received a handful of laps to run to shake down the car and get himself up to speed one hour before the race.
After starting 27th and last, Ferrucci avoided crashes and mayhem on the way to an improbable ninth-place finish, best of the three-car RLL team.
“It’s nice to come off the couch and just jump in our race car and go from last to a top 10,” he told RACER. “I mean, these guys have worked so hard to rebuild the car, and right before we go racing, they gave me six laps to make sure nothing leaked, then it was out of the car and thank you! They did a great job on pit road. I just wish I was a little bit better on the pit road for them. We could have been a little bit more in the hunt. But honestly, I can’t complain.”
Ferrucci says he held himself back in the early portion of the race and was lucky to escape the crash triggered by Andretti Autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco that took out teammate Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves. Once clear, he dialed up the intensity and currently sits 20th in the championship, ahead of five full-timers who competed in both rounds run so far.
“I was watching Graham get pretty racy, and right before he crashed, I was 10th and I was like, ‘If he’s 10th, I know this car can go with him,’ But then on that restart, holy crap, I almost went with the three of them off into the fence,’ he said. “I don’t know how I missed them, but right from there on, I was just like, ‘You know what, let’s take the freakin’ chains off and go have some fun.’ Definitely one that was for the crew who worked all night and Hy-Vee and everybody here at RLL.”