Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne prove to be good luck for Panthers, Seahawks

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With the season over, two of NASCAR’s top pilots found some time yesterday to enjoy another Sunday tradition.

Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was entrusted with an important pre-game role for the Carolina Panthers in their tilt yesterday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Panthers’ motto is “Keep Pounding,” which dates back to an emotional speech from Panthers defensive coach and ex-linebacker Sam Mills to his players before a 2004 playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The speech took place while Mills was battling intestinal cancer. He succumbed to the disease in 2005 at the age of 45, but his message endures.

It’s represented in the Panthers’ various cancer research initiatives, and before every Panthers game, a honorary drummer beats a large drum with the “Keep Pounding” name on it four times (signifying the four quarters of a game).

Yesterday, the honor went to Johnson:

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne was cheering on his Seattle Seahawks as they dueled with the San Francisco 49ers.

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Great day to be in Seattle. Go Hawks!

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The ‘Hawks ultimately won the NFC West battle at CenturyLink Field, and afterwards, Kahne and his crew met up with quarterback Russell Wilson to celebrate.

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.