Road America test: Live updates from the track

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – This just feels right – we’re coming to you from Tuesday’s Verizon IndyCar Series test at Road America – the first time the top level of North American open-wheel racing is back at the classic, picturesque 4.048-mile road course since 2007.

Quick reminder of who’s testing:

  • Team Penske: Will Power (now No. 12), Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud
  • Chip Ganassi Racing: Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball
  • CFH Racing: Josef Newgarden
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises: Takuma Sato

There has not been a ton of running yet in the first hour, which runs from 8:30 to 4 p.m. CT and local time, as drivers have noted low grip levels. Unofficial times are just under the 1:50 barrier to start the day, but no one is really pushing too hard as yet.

Fans can attend for a $20 entry fee, with 50 percent of every ticket sold going to the Wilson Children’s Fund to benefit the family of the late Justin Wilson. Fans will also have the option to make additional contributions on site. There’s already a good number of fans here.

And here’s the first of a number of tweets I’ll be posting both on my personal account and the @IndyCaronNBCSN account throughout the day.

More videos and photos:

Have spoken to a number of drivers – all except Castroneves actually as the Penske media scrum was a scrum – and will work up those transcripts today.

Also made sure to stop by the Gearbox – the track’s legendary food stand – for a double brat, some curly fries and a Pepsi.

It’s a good problem to have when the line to eat is this long.

Here’s some selected quotes from driver media availabilities today:

Power: “It’s actually pretty similar, I think. Champ Car was faster with a bit more power. But as far as speed goes, where we’re lifting, is similar. I don’t know what we were doing in Champ Cars. It should be about same pace too.”

Pagenaud: “The car behaves differently but obviously more speed here. It’s still the same race track. Very enjoyable here. Having quite a bit of fun. We’re going through a long list of laundry items. Enjoyable day.”

Montoya: “Back in the day with the old CART car, you had to lift everywhere. You’re breathing through Turn 7. Blind left hander where the bridge used to be, you lift there. Now it’s flat. How brave are you?

“It’s not easy flat. The thing is when it’s flat, you take more downforce off. Then you’ll go quicker in the corners.”

Dixon: “It’s like riding a different bike. It’s a three wheeler vs a two wheeler.The only thing that was quite familiar was coming into pit lane. Different car and 13 years. So a lot has changed. You see, feel and remember things. The general feel of it is quite a bit different. Yeah I think everything changes over time. The track changes. Facility looks good. It means a lot, it’s nice to come back to a place to see this many fans here for a test on a Tuesday. Fun track. It’s hard to put a whole lap together. It’s easy to get a couple corners right, but go offline with this car, it requires a lot of momentum. Mess up one corner, and it affects a whole lap.”

Kanaan: “I tell you what, the first lap today, it was fun. A lot of good memories came back from back in the day, and the speeds that this track brings.

“I haven’t been in a car since Sonoma, so to jump and go down this long straightaway, you realize how fast you are going, so it’s awesome to be back.”

Kimball: “Yeah, especially from (Turn) Five around to Canada (Corner) there is quite a bit of flow there. (Turn) One and (Turn) Three kind of stand on their own, but it is a lot of rhythm. There’s connections all the way through that if you can start to find that rhythm, you can make the most of it.”

Rahal: “It was awesome man. Good to be back. Turn some laps around this place. You forget how damn fast it is in these cars. It’s very quick. Way quicker than I remember the Champ Car being on cornering side. It’s cool. Gonna be a lot of fun. Keep working, keep digging for more speed. We’re creeping up.”

Newgarden: “Man I love this place. It’s awesome. It’s first time I’ve driven anything with power and grip. It’s incredible. It’s so fast. It’s all high speed corners. Yes some low speed corners. But every corner is fast. High commitment, very flowy track. You can’t mess up the rhythm. I like that it’s penalizing. You have to be precise. It’s just a damn cool track.”

Sato: “I love it. Every driver feels the same way.”

More to follow in this post throughout the day.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images
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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.