FORT WORTH, Texas – Santino Ferrucci continues to impress as an NTT IndyCar Series rookie after turning an 18th starting position into a career-best fourth-place finish Saturday night in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 21-year-old from Woodbury, Connecticut, was enjoying a quiet drive that was flirting with a top-10 finish, but contenders fell by the wayside late and brought out multiple cautions to push Ferrucci further into contention.
Making his 13th series start, Ferrucci was methodical in his move toward the front. He didn’t crack the top 10 until past halfway through the 248-lap race on the 1.5-mile oval and still ran 10th on Lap 201.
Running seventh 20 laps from the finish, Ferrucci vaulted to fifth after defending race winner Scott Dixon and rookie Colton Herta came together fighting for the runner-up spot entering Turn 3. He then passed Simon Pagenaud for fourth on Lap 237 and stayed there to claim the first top-five result in his brief NTT IndyCar Series career.
“We had a hell of a start,” said Ferrucci, driver of the No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. “We moved forward like crazy and then we stayed put. The first stop caught my guys off guard, (a) miscommunication on my part on the radio. Once we got going again, we passed, got our lap back, kept running, kept pushing and kept digging, avoided a couple of big, big wrecks, had a little bit of strategy that played a part in it.
“At the end there, we just had a car to run up front all night long. I can't thank the guys for giving me something underneath me that was super fast like that.”
There was no shortage of action throughout the 248-lap race, with a variety of breathtakingly tight passes among the 22-car field.
“It was super clean, super tight, for sure,” Ferrucci said. “Definitely not pack racing, but if you had a good car and you did a good job getting your gaps and managing your runs, you can definitely move forward. I felt like we had the car and we were strong enough to do that.
“I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun and I'm glad that we got a chance to race a lot of cars and pass a lot of guys.”
The result continues to show the progress of Ferrucci’s 2019 campaign. Through nine starts, he has completed 989 of 991 laps, with five top-10 finishes through the opening nine races.
It has him sitting ninth in the championship standings – best among rookies – and three points ahead of teammate and Indy car veteran Sebastien Bourdais.
“It's about consistency,” said Ferrucci, the Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year after his seventh-place showing in the May 26 race. “One of my goals is to complete all the laps I can. By doing that, it's about playing it smart, knowing where not to stick your nose. If you sometimes have to get out of it to avoid something, you do.
“Also that and understand how to drive this car and work with the team and get everything right. It makes a huge difference with that, and I think that's why we're a little bit more consistently in the top 10.”