While not on the pole, Ryan Hunter-Reay still has great seat for Indy 500

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He may not have won the pole for next Sunday’s historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, but Ryan Hunter-Reay isn’t complaining.

After all, the 2014 winner of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing still has a great seat for the May 29th classic: he’s on the outside of the front row at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Canadian James Hinchcliffe earned his first career pole – in the biggest race in the world – with a four-lap qualifying speed of 230.760 mph.

Then came Americans Josef Newgarden (230.700 mph) and Hunter-Reay (230.648) to round out the front row.

“It was so close,” Hunter-Reay said. “The car was the best we’ve had in qualifying this whole time. I knew it would start to go loose. I couldn’t feel the rear much. It was a great run, but that’s all we had in it.”

While he may be disappointed he didn’t get the pole, Hunter-Reay was ecstatic that Hinchcliffe won the pole, coming back from his near-fatal crash during practice last May at IMS.

“I’m so happy for Hinch, he’s one of my really good friends,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s just incredible. I don’t think anyone can describe almost losing your life to going 240 (mph). It’s absolutely incredible. What an amazing pole winner.”

This is the second time Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe have shared the front row at Indy. Hinchcliffe qualified second between polesitter Ryan Briscoe and Hunter-Reay was third to start the 2012 Indy 500 (eventually won by Dario Franchitti).

“Good memories, yes,” Hunter-Reay said. “We spent years as teammates (at Andretti Autosport) and this is just great. The emotions are so drastic here. There’s so much invested emotionally, physically, financially in this whole event. Having a shot at pole was all you could ask for.”

Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay will be piloting Hondas in the race, while Newgarden will be in a Chevy.

“It’s great to have two Hondas on the front row, P1 and P3,” Hunter-Reay said. “They really stepped it up and threw a big punch. The 100th running, to be on the front row, is a great spot.

“When you have a good car at IMS, there’s no better feeling. Nothing is right in the world when you’re slow. Fast and you’re on cloud nine. I absolutely love this place. We’ll be dialing it in tomorrow, everything will change. It’s incredibly stressful but I’m happy its over.”

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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.