IndyCar: Bourdais fastest in first of two Friday practices at Detroit

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Sebastien Bourdais was fastest in the first of Friday’s two practice sessions for this weekend’s 2-race Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Island in the Motor City.

Bourdais covered the track with a blistering elapsed time of 1 minute, 17.8545 seconds.

Scott Dixon was second at 1:17.9168.

“It’s a lot of fun, definitely a busy track and the walls definitely keep you confined,” Dixon told the IMS Radio Network. “It’s one of the most physically demanding courses, and to double up, by the end of the second race, you definitely feel it.”

Graham Rahal, who won both races at Detroit last year, was third-quickest with a best lap of 1:18.0191.

“The car’s really good,” Rahal told the IMSRN. “We’ve got the quickest car, we just didn’t get the (top) lap there, I think we could get a mid-7. We just have to put it together. … I hope this afternoon (in the second practice), we’ll be able to build on it a little bit.”

Fourth through 10th were Alexander Rossi (1:18.1504), Marco Andretti (1:18.3009), Santino Ferrucci (1:18.3117), Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:18.3366), Zach Veach (1:18.3529), Josef Newgarden (1:18.3997) and Tony Kanaan (1:18.4611).

There were several incidents in the session.

Charlie Kimball got loose early, James Hinchcliffe almost lost control coming out of Turn 7, Matheus Leist skimmed the wall in Turn 4, and Scott Dixon skimmed the wall in Turn 11.

Then with just under eight minutes to go in the session, rookie Rene Binder ran into the tire wall in Turn 11, bringing out a red flag practice stoppage. Crews pulled Binder’s car out of the tire wall, he was able to get restarted and slowly worked his way to pit road.

With just over a minute remaining in the session, rookie Robert Wickens went into the run-off area in Turn 7 and could not get restarted.

There was also one other unusual element added to the track: a squirrel kept coming onto the track around the Turn 7 area. Cars avoided contact with the squirrel … or should we say the squirrel avoided contact with the cars.

Today’s second practice session is set for 3:10 p.m. ET.

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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.