Chase leader Kenseth: “We kind of missed it today”

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Today at Dover International Speedway, Matt Kenseth finally cooled off after opening the Chase for the Sprint Cup with back-to-back wins, fading late in the AAA 400 to a seventh-place finish.

Kenseth was able to maintain his lead in the Chase with seven races to go, but with Jimmie Johnson picking up the win, that gap between him and the five-time Sprint Cup champion is now down to eight points.

“We kind of missed it today, but there’s times we ran a lot better than that,” said Kenseth, who led 36 laps at Dover. “We got caught with being the last on two tires and restarting on the inside, which was really bad. Still salvaged a respectable finish, but certainly I wanted to do better than that.”

The stage was set for the finish after debris in Turn 3 brought out the yellow with 31 laps to go. That didn’t help Kenseth, who was hoping for the race to stay green so he could be in position to pick up spots as the leaders pitted for splashes of fuel.

“I really wasn’t [happy] because we were running second I think and [crew chief] Jason [Ratcliff] said nobody could really make it,” he said. “None of the guys that were going to win the race were going to make it and a lot of those cars that I think were trying to make it were already a lap down, so I wish it would have went green to the end. I think that would have got us a Top-3 or 4.”

Instead, Kenseth fell back after the green came out again with 26 laps remaining, victimized somewhat by not being in the preferred outside lane on the restart.

But perhaps there are better days ahead for Kenseth next weekend at Kansas, where he won back in the spring. He’s earned four wins this season on mile-and-a-half tracks, including his Chase-opening triumph at Chicagoland three races ago.

So while Kenseth was left unfulfilled on Sunday, he could find himself with another chance to build on his championship edge very soon.

“I feel good about this stretch — Dover, Kansas, Charlotte have all been great tracks I really enjoy that our performance has been pretty good at it,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting there.”

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.