Kanaan leads Ganassi 1-2 in opening practice at Texas

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There wasn’t a ton of running in the opening 75-minute practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Firestone 600 – drivers completed anywhere from 17 to 53 laps – and Chip Ganassi Racing Teams ended 1-2 on the top of the timesheets.

Tony Kanaan took the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet to a best speed of 216.745 mph, with Scott Dixon just behind in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at 216.613.

Kanaan said there’s not much you can really read into this session, run with high ambient and track temperatures in the high 80s and mid-110s, respectively.

“Honestly qualifying is such a lottery (starting last) might happen,” Kanaan told NBCSN’s Robin Miller. “We have a decent car for the race.

“It was a messy session for everyone. Lot of yellows. We never did a qualifying run because we were in traffic. Track was quite hot. We had a pretty good plan and split the workload between the four cars. Qualifying will be a lottery. But I’m looking forward to tonight.”

Two more Chevrolets – Josef Newgarden in the electric green No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet and Charlie Kimball in the No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet – were next up before the fastest Honda of Marco Andretti in fifth, the No. 27 Snapple Honda.

Andretti Autosport drivers clocked in fifth, sixth and seventh with Andretti ahead of Carlos Munoz and Alexander Rossi, who were second and first in the most recent oval race at the Indianapolis 500.

Andretti told NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt, “It’s not bad. It’s always tricky in the warm conditions. You’re trying to find the race car balance. Tonight we’ll have a better feel for it. Good pace in qualifying.”

It was a somewhat chaotic session as Kanaan noted.

Gabby Chaves crashed, Graham Rahal stopped on track with a gearbox issue, then James Hinchcliffe said his team needed to fix something in the garage area, not on pit lane. There was also debris on track from a cut tire which caused an extended yellow flag period.

Here’s additional quotes from practice:

  • Hinchcliffe to Kevin Lee: “I think we know what we need to change but we can’t quite do it in pit lane. Ultimately track conditions aren’t what we’re racing in. We know what we need to do but have to go back to garage to do it.”
  • Newgarden to Hargitt: “I think we made good progress on the Fuzzy’s car. It’s gonna look good under the lights with the electric green. Hopefully we execute OK. They’re (the tires) designed to fall off a bit. For us, it’s our job to take care of them. Should have a good car for the race.”
  • Will Power to Lee: “It’s very tough in this heat. It’s tough to get a read on the car. Tires fall off pretty badly.”
  • Juan Pablo Montoya to Lee: “It was OK. I’m running the hum car this week. We struggled a little bit at the beginning. Indy we thought we could deal with it but it bit us. We are trying to be a bit more consistent. We’re seeing. A lot of the fast laps are with tows. We don’t really know where we stand yet.”
  • Rossi to Hargitt: “It was a decent session. We’re missing a bit to the top guys. I need to learn how to go faster.”
  • Dixon to Lee: “It feels somewhat decent. The biggest thing here is trying to maintain the degradation.”

All told the planned 75-minute session was extended five extra minutes owing to the yellows.

Times are below. Qualifying airs on a slight delay at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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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.