IndyCar: The ultimate dark horse of this year’s silly season

Santino Ferrucci, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, IndyCar (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Santino Ferrucci, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, IndyCar (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Not getting nearly enough attention in IndyCar silly season is the situation of Santino Ferrucci at A.J. Foyt Enterprises. Will Ferrucci be back in 2024?

A.J. Foyt Enterprises are one of the few teams — perhaps even the only team — aside from Team Penske that haven’t generated much discussion in this year’s IndyCar silly season.

Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Benjamin Pedersen is competing on a multi-year deal and is expected to return for another season behind the wheel of the No. 55 Chevrolet in 2024, and it would be crazy to suggest that the team would be seeking a replacement for Santino Ferrucci behind the wheel of the No. 14 Chevrolet — or even that Ferrucci would want to leave.

Ferrucci qualified fourth, led laps, and finished in third in this year’s Indy 500 in what was the first edition of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in which A.J. Foyt’s team was even remotely competitive since fan-favorite Tony Kanaan took the lead coming down the front straightaway back in 2018.

Ferrucci doesn’t have any other top 10 finishes this season, but that is a reflection of the fact that the Indy 500 has literally been the only race in which A.J. Foyt Enterprises showed up looking like more than the worst team on the grid. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

Pedersen’s only finish higher than 20th is 15th, and he sits last among full-time drivers in the championship standings in 26th. The No. 55 team sits last among full-time entries in the entrant standings in 27th. Ferrucci and the No. 14 team sit well up the order in 20th.

Bringing back the 25-year-old Woodbury, Connecticut native is a no-brainer move for a team looking to build on this year’s Indy 500 success, but there are reports suggesting that a budget needs to be found to make that happen.

If that doesn’t happen and Santino Ferrucci hits the open market, where does he rank among potential IndyCar free agents?

Considering how many teams are looking to fill seats for 2024, it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t factor in. He has competed in five Indy 500s for four different teams and placed in the top 10 in every one of them, and his third place finish from this past May is a career-best. His average finish is sixth.

His success has not been limited to the Indy 500 either. In six substitute appearances for a struggling Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team in 2021 and 2022, he finished no worse than 11th place and recorded five top 10 finishes and an average finish of 8.5.

Ovals have been a strength of Ferrucci, with all five of his top five finishes coming at such venues, and they remain significantly outnumbered by road and street courses on the current schedule. But Ferrucci has shown well in road and street course events as well, with nine top 10 results compared to 10 in oval races.

Let’s also not forget one interesting note. Ferrucci is the only Alex Palou teammate whom Palou did not beat as a teammate. The pair competed together for Dale Coyne Racing in 2020, and Ferrucci placed three positions higher than the 2021 champion and current points leader.

dark. Next. All-time IndyCar wins list

The smart money is still on Ferrucci back in Super Tex’s iconic No. 14 car for a second season in 2024. But should that deal fall through, that could present a major twist in this year’s silly season, especially given that there are a number of teams that have confirmed they are seeking talent rather than ride buyers.