Rahal disappointed in IndyCar’s ‘change of heart’ over Castroneves penalty

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FORT WORTH – Graham Rahal said he wouldn’t make a comment on IndyCar’s decision to reduce penalties to Helio Castroneves’ team following the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9.

Then he did anyway.

Rahal shared his frustration in IndyCar reducing Castroneves’ penalty for avoidable contact with Scott Dixon that started a Lap 1, Turn 1 crash that also involved Josef Newgarden and Jack Hawksworth. The original penalty of eight points was reduced to three.

As a result, Castroneves switched points positions with Rahal, putting the former in fourth behind leader Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“I think once a penalty’s done, it should be done,” Rahal said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “To change it a month later…but, you know we’re going to focus on beating Helio this weekend and getting those points back. If we can do that, we’ll be just fine.”

The initial penalty came following a race in which Rahal finished second for the second week in a row. That was part of a stretch where the Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing driver finished in the top five in four out of five races. The only exception was a 23rd-place finish in race one of the Dual in Detroit, when Rahal was involved in a Lap 5 crash.

“Particularly now with the sudden change of heart on the Helio penalty it makes it hard because we lost a spot in the championship there,” Rahal said. “It’s frustrating obviously because my team, I think everybody’s worked very hard this year,” Rahal said. “We feel like in St. Pete we got hosed with a penalty. We still feel that way. That took us out of a top three, top four right there.”

Castroneves thought the reduction was fair.

“I obviously to this day think it wasn’t anything intentional,” Castroneves said after his qualifying attempt for the Firestone 600. “I did everything I could to avoid contact (with Dixon). At the end of the day, I think it’s fair for what happened and we’ll move on.”

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.