Speeds up, drama down as Pagenaud, Dixon lead “Fast Friday” at IMS

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Good news: speeds were up for more single-car, no-tow runs compared to last year’s Fast Friday, as the Verizon IndyCar Series turned the boosts up. Only one car was north of 230 no-tow last year, and several were this year.

And better news: It was an incident-free Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There were no accidents, engine failures or other dramatic moments after three straight days of drama prior to the day.

Simon Pagenaud led the overall speed charts for the second straight day, with a best speed of 230.698 mph, in the No. 22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet.

The best non-tow speed though was Scott Dixon, at a shade slower at 230.655 mph, in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Dixon was one of three drivers who ran non-tow laps north of 230, along with Will Power and Sage Karam, who ended fifth and sixth overall.

On the overall chart beyond Pagenaud and Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Power completed the top five.

All 34 driver and car combinations expected to qualify made laps on Friday, notably Pippa Mann in the repaired backup No. 63 Susan G. Komen Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. Coyne’s crew took a car that wasn’t previously prepped for super speedway conditions and Mann made it out in the final eight minutes of the day for a mock qualifying run, immediately getting up to 225-plus mph.

The draw for tomorrow’s qualifying will follow later tonight.

In the interim, here are today’s speeds:

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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.