April 10 in Motorsports History: Mario Andretti’s 50th victory

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Nearly 1,700 officially sanctioned events have taken place over more than 100 years of American open-wheel racing, but fewer than 300 drivers have been lucky enough to win a race. Even fewer have been able to win more than once.

The 25-plus win club is even smaller, with only 16 drivers ever reaching that mark, and there are only two drivers who can say they’ve won more than 50 races in IndyCar (though Scott Dixon, who has 46 victories, might be able to join them someday).

A.J. Foyt was the first driver in history to win 50 IndyCar races, accomplishing this feat in the 1975 Rex Mays Classic at Milwaukee. He would retire with 67 total victories.

It would not be until nearly 13 years later that another driver would reach the 50-win mark — Mario Andretti on April 10, 1988.

Andretti entered the Checker 200 at Phoenix International Raceway having gone 21 years and 30 races since his last victory at the track.

But luck would be on Andretti’s side that Sunday afternoon. While others dominated early on in the race, Andretti inherited the lead on the 66th lap. He never looked back and led through the checkered flag to collect his milestone victory.

At one point, Andretti was in position to lap the field, but he slowed his pace in the closing laps, letting Roberto Guerrero and his son Michael Andretti inherit their laps back.

“Obviously, I tried not to overdo it,” Andretti said. “I tried to take care of the car as much as possible. When you have an advantage like that, you just don’t want to take chances.”

Andretti would win again in 1988 at Cleveland. Five years later, he would win his 52nd and final race, which also came at Phoenix.

Also on this date:

1999: Adrian Fernandez won the Firestone Firehawk 500k at Twin Ring Motegi, his second consecutive victory at the 1.549-mile oval roughly 85 miles north of Tokyo.

2010: Chip Ganassi Racing was victorious in Grand Am’s Porsche 250 Barber Motorsports Park with drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. The team would record seven more victories in 2010 and easily win the Daytona Prototype championship.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994

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.