IndyCar: Despite miserable weekend, Power retains points lead

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Will Power’s weekend at Houston included: Two 18th place starting positions, an unforced error Saturday, a late-race mechanical issue Sunday, his first race where he didn’t finish on the lead lap, and two finishes outside the top-10.

It was not a great weekend for the Australian – it was nearly as bad as his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves’ 2013 Houston debacle – but yet Power retained what Castroneves didn’t coming out of the event last October, in the form of the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead.

Power’s Sunday race in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet saw him again roll off 18th, as the team missed the setup in qualifying for a second straight day.

But by the end of the first pit stop cycle, Power suddenly appeared third in the running order. He’d had a ridiculously strong first stint where he was passing cars almost at will.

However, a parts failure with just two laps remaining cost him the podium finish he appeared poised to gain. Power fell to 11th in the second Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston race of the weekend, after ending 14th on Saturday.

“It was a great first stint; we passed a lot of cars and got up to third,” Power told NBCSN post-race. “But it’s tough to fight that hard and not come away with anything. A part that failed on two other cars at Indy road race … rattled around, and it just failed completely at the end there with two to go.”

Despite his issues, Power left Houston with the same 39-point gap he had entering the weekend on Castroneves. Castroneves was ninth on Saturday and crashed out on Sunday after making contact with Sebastien Bourdais.

The crazy weekend that took its toll on the rest of the field meant no one driver was really able to maximize points. Only Sebastien Bourdais, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jack Hawksworth and Marco Andretti scored top-10 finishes in both races.

Power now heads to Pocono next week, where last year he finished fourth and was the only Chevrolet runner in the top-five. The Ganassi team swept the podium with its trio of Hondas and Josef Newgarden finished fifth in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda.

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.