Teams looking for Gen-6 knowledge in Vegas test

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Las Vegas Motor Speedway will open up one day early for an Sprint Cup Open Test session tomorrow, giving drivers and teams an opportunity to learn more about the Generation 6 cars.

The lighter, sleeker Gen-6 cars – which were designed to improve the racing products on intermediate tracks such as LVMS – continue to be a riddle for everyone in the garage. So far, the new cars have put on two relatively subpar shows at Daytona and Phoenix (with Denny Hamlin being particularly pointed in his comments on the subject after the latter race), but at the same time, the learning process remains ongoing.

That, as well as 1.5-mile tracks like LVMS making up the bulk of the calendar, makes Thursday’s test so important for the teams.

“It will help us a ton,” Stewart-Haas Racing crew chief Steve Addington said to NASCAR.com after last weekend’s event at Phoenix. “It’s just learning. It’s going to take us a few races, I think. The Las Vegas test will help (but) it won’t tell us what will happen when we get 43 cars out there again.

“We need to try to get some time to run with a couple of cars and see…how it affects the car on the mile-and-a-half tracks. We’ve got teammates; we can get out there with three cars and see what it does to the cars. We’ve got to use that.”

Teams were able to gain some initial knowledge on the Gen-6 cars at another 1.5-mile oval, Charlotte Motor Speedway, this past January.

As for tomorrow’s test at Vegas, it is expected to run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT, and the session will be free and open to the public.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.