Santino Ferrucci Knows Eyes Will Be on Him Starting Indy 500 Next to Kyle Larson

santino ferrucci indy 500 aj foyt racing
Ferrucci Relishes Starting 500 Next to Kyle LarsonPenske Entertainment/Chris Jones
  • Santino Ferrucci, who turns 26 on May 31, will be making his sixth Indianapolis 500 start.

  • He's finished in the top-10 each of his previous five Indy 500s.

  • This year, he will start the 500 on the outside of Row 2, next to rookie Kyle Larson.

Santino Ferrucci may have more eyes on him at the start of this year's Indianapolis 500 than he's ever had on him at the start of a race.

While Ferrucci has been near the front of the Indy 500 grid before, he's never been on the outside Row 2 alongside the driver who may just be the story of this year's race—2021 NASCAR Cup champion and Indy 500 first-timer Kyle Larson.


In fact, Larson, who is attempting the Indy 500/NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 double, will be making his first competitive lap in an Indy car when the field takes the green flag on Sunday.

No worries, says Ferrucci, when asked about any concerns barreling his No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing/Sexton Properties Chevrolet into Turn 1 alongside a true IndyCar rookie in every sense of the word. And, no, Ferrucci doesn't plan to take Turn 1 any differently than he would against an Indy 500 veteran.

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Team owner A.J. Foyt and Santino Ferrucci celebrate Ferrucci’s second-row starting position for this year’s Indy 500.John Cote

"He's a racer," Ferrucci told Autoweek on Tuesday. "Honestly, the biggest thing is he's just kind of making sure he listens to his spotters. I watched him Monday (in practice). He's definitely getting more comfortable.

"Without a doubt, he looks better in the car. There are some things, obviously, I think that caught him little caught off guard with some of the check-ups and the timing of things (in practice) because it was the first time we really ran in a big snake for him and a big train there.

"And you know, he's a real fast learner. I mean, it's not gonna take him more than Friday's (Carb Day) practice, I think, to truly understand it."

Ferrucci, who turns 26 on May 31, will be making his sixth Indianapolis 500 start. He's finished in the top 10 in each of his first five Indy 500s. Not even his racing boss A.J. Foyt can make that claim.

Ferrucci's best finish in the 500 was third a year ago. He clearly knows his way around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and he likes his path much better on the outside of Row 2 as opposed to the inside of that same row where he started the 500 a year ago.

indianapolis, in during the indianapolis 500 at the indianapolis motor speedway photo by joe skibinski ims photo
Kyle Larson has proven to be a quick learner at Indianapolis.Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

"I'm in my happy spot," Ferrucci said. "I love to start on the outside on the ovals. It makes me feel really good about my spot. When we started the 500 last year, we started fourth. I was not a big fan of the inside. I honestly would have preferred the middle to the inside anyway.

"I'm excited with it. I'm curious to see what Larson does. There's a lot of people that looked really racy (in practice), but there's a lot of people—if you go back and watch the highlights—there was a lot of close calls."

It can also be said Ferrucci is the odd man in for quite a party on the first two rows. Team Penske's trio of pole sitter Scott McLaughlin, Will Power and Josef Newgarden locked out the front row. Ferrucci finds himself alongside the Arrow McLaren tandem of Alexander Rossi and Larson.

While teammates can often map out their starts, being the outlier isn't necessarily a bad thing, he says.

"We are totally under the radar," Ferrucci said. "We weren't in anyone's predictions to be honest with you. I wouldn't have put myself in there, either.

"I think we're just kind of scooting by under the radar as an underdog. I think last year when we were this quick, we were quick every day. So everyone was kind of like, let's see how you do in the race.

"And then this year, we've been off to a bit of a struggle. And we didn't quite start up on top. Then, we were P8, and it's like people were saying 'okay, you know they're in the Fast 12.' Well, then we were in the Fast Six—so it's kind of like we just keep surprising people, which is great."

As for race day, Ferrucci and his A.J.Foyt Racing team have proven over the past five years that they're not a team to sleep on at Indianapolis.

"This race, just as long as we keep our heads down, we try to avoid all the mess and just minimize it," Ferrucci said. "It's minimizing mistakes. You don't need to be perfect. The less things that go wrong, the better chances you have at the end of this race. We know we have the pace and the car to be there.

"We just need to be smart and just kind of ride along and not do anything too crazy."