Harvick fastest in Saturday AM Cup practice at Phoenix

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Inclement weather is expected for today in and around Phoenix, but the Sprint Cup contingent at Phoenix International Raceway caught a break this morning by getting in their second practice of the weekend.

PIR received rain overnight but early morning track drying was able to get the one-mile oval ready in time for the scheduled 9 a.m. MT start of the session.

Kevin Harvick, who has won two of the last three Sprint Cup events at PIR and will start 13th in Sunday’s main event, was fastest in the 50-minute run with a lap of 26.133 seconds in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s tandem of Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson posted identical hot laps of 26.310 seconds behind Harvick, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. (26.342) and pole sitter Brad Keselowski (26.347) were fourth and fifth-fastest respectively.

Harvick also had the fastest 5 and 10-lap averages in this practice as well, which should bode well for him tomorrow.

Whether the wet stuff can stay away from PIR for the remainder of today’s activity remains to be seen. The Nationwide Series is set to qualify shortly for their 200-lap event later this afternoon at 3:45 p.m. ET. In between is Sprint Cup “Happy Hour” final practice at 2 p.m. ET.

During this morning’s broadcast, Fox Sports relayed word from NASCAR that the 2 p.m. ET Cup practice may be pushed up by 15 minutes to avoid the possible rain.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix has the chance of rain in the Phoenix region today at “near 100 percent” and lists the possibility of up to a half-inch of rainfall.

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.