By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
As Santino Ferrucci sat under the third red flag in the closing laps of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, only one thought entered his mind, and that was the crowd being on his side.
Making an edgy three-wide maneuver up the outside of Josef Newgarden and race leader Marcus Ericsson, the A.J. Foyt Racing No. 14 looked to be leading the Indy 500 with only four laps to go.
That was until a multi-car crash seconds later on the frontstretch froze the field in position, knocking the American from the apparent lead back to third spot.
“It’s all timing and scoring, that stuff doesn’t lie, ” Ferrucci said. “If it says we’re third, we’re third. It’s just… sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow — restarting third like that when you’re really second. Obviously, it’s just bitter-sweet.”
The “bitter” part of that emotion comes on the heels of Ferrucci’s standout run at Indianapolis. The fourth-year driver started fourth and ran consistently amongst the frontrunners, leading 11 laps along the way. The team’s final pit stop cost him the lead, however, Ferrucci battled on and was well in the fight against Ericsson and winner Newgarden.
“When you’re that fast all month long, you just want it that much more,” he said. “And, the way we do everything to see green… it’s great for the fans, IndyCar makes the right calls.”
And during this red flag period was when Ferrucci made a realization.
“The biggest thing that goes with all that, funny enough, is when they [ask the crowd] who they want to win… we had the loudest cheers. And you could hear that. That is just fuel, it made me feel really good about it and made me want to dig harder. We made the most of it.”
Following the costly final red flag, Ferrucci held onto to secure third while the top two fought for the victory. The result, though no victory, was his first podium in 49 NTT IndyCar Series starts.
“I was hoping and praying,” he said of watching the top two fight for the win. “Because, when you’re in third, that is all you can do.”
Sunday was Ferrucci’s fifth consecutive top-10 finish at Indy, and perhaps more special, was the best 500 finish for A.J. Foyt Racing in nearly a quarter-century.
“I love this place, I love coming here,” he said. “I’m always so comfortable in the race, good at avoiding all the accidents that happen in front of us. We will win it eventually! We have to.”