NHRA’s Mile-High Nationals underway in Denver

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On Friday, Cruz Pedregon, Doug Kalitta, Allen Johnson and Adam Arana came away as first-day qualifying leaders in their respective classes at the NHRA’s Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.

Pedregon topped the Funny Car contingent and bested his own track record with a time of 4.073 seconds at 307.37 miles per hour, ahead of defending event winner Jack Beckman (4.097/309.91) and Tim Wilkerson (4.114/302.21). Beckman’s run was enough to eclipse Bandimere’s old speed record.

In Top Fuel, Kalitta, who is looking for his first win of the year in the top-tier Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, led the way with a time of 3.889 seconds at 310.13 miles per hour. Khalid alBalooshi was second-fastest with a pass of 3.924 seconds at 313.95 mph, while rookie Brittany Force was third in class following a time of 3.926 second at 309.56 mph.

Johnson, a four-time winner at Bandimere, was the fastest Friday qualifier in Pro Stock with a time of 6.949 seconds at 198.23 miles per hour. Colorado native Vieri “V” Gaines was second (6.970/197.25), followed by Shane Gray in third (6.971/197.02).

Finally, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana led with a pass of 7.267 seconds at 182.62 mph, topping Denver resident Mike Berry (7.281/181.89) and Michael Ray (7.289/180.48).

Qualifying continues this afternoon, with eliminations beginning tomorrow morning.

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

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images
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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.