Next year’s Long Beach GP weekend will be April 7-9, 2017

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LONG BEACH, Calif. –  It’s not very often that a jumbotron breaks news – or reveals news that may have come out a few days earlier – but a jumbotron did so today at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Next year’s Long Beach weekend will be April 7-9, 2017.

It moves up a week because Easter Sunday is April 16, and that’s a traditional off weekend in the motorsports world.

And then when you check the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center website, those dates are on there, as well.

Quite what events are on the Long Beach weekend beyond IndyCar and at least one sports car component remain to be seen. A schedule hole will open up with the departure of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, and there’s been a bit of wondering this weekend why the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series – a Long Beach staple – isn’t here this year.

It’s never too early to start thinking about the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar and this provides another bit of a clue as to how the start might be shaping up.

The thinking according to the Arizona Republic and AZCentralSports.com reporter Michael Knight is that the Phoenix date – which was April 2 this year – will move to the end of the month because the NCAA Final Four is in Phoenix on Saturday, April 1 and Monday, April 3.

St. Petersburg is locked into March 9-12, 2017. That race is also set for March 8-11, 2018 and the Firestone title sponsorship for the race is locked in through then.

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.