Ferrucci rebounds from Indy shunt, aims for a Fast Nine slot

Ferrucci suffered a 225mph shunt at Turn 2 on Thursday, bad enough to send him to hospital, return to the track with a limp and a knee brace, and leave his mechanics – and those of his teammates Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal – working through much of the night and wee small hours of the morning to get the #45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda prepared for Fast Friday.

Said team co-owner Bobby Rahal on Friday morning: “A lot of them were – some went home around midnight, some by 1:30, some 2:30. I think there were some people still here at 5:00 a.m. today.…

“Pretty amazing really, because it happened late in the afternoon, too. It’s not like it happened at 10:00 in the morning. Great recovery. A great team effort getting the car done, and more than anything I’m pleased that Santino is OK. Certainly I’m sure he’s sorer than he’s letting on, but to see him walking around, that’s a good sight.”

Given that the turbo boost is turned up from 1.3-bar to 1.5-bar on Fast Friday in preparation for qualifying weekend, Ferrucci was asked by Motorsport.com before the session about his confidence level.

“I think a lot of drivers that crash around here on their own don’t know why it happened and they don’t want to admit to why it happened,” said the 22-year-old who won the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year title in 2019, and finished fourth here last year. “I’m pretty confident I know what I did wrong, and I know how to fix it.

“Obviously getting back in the car today, we’re going to go out in race trim with all the downforce on the car and we’re going to go run around, and we’re just going to peel it back off again. By the end of the day, I have absolutely zero doubts that we’ll be back up at full speed with Graham and Takuma.

“The guys worked all night long. They’re going to work all morning. They’re going to work all night tonight getting the car where it should be for Saturday. I have zero doubts in this team. It’s an incredibly professional organization, the Hy-Vee crew, and it’s really nice to have the help of the #15 and the #30 crews. To see everybody come together and make it work, that puts a lot of confidence back in me knowing everything is back together correct the way it should be, the way it was.”

Ferrucci was as good as his word and by the end of Fast Friday’s six-hour session, he had set the eighth quickest average speed over four laps – 230.364mph – as all teams spent the day simulating Indy’s unique qualifying format. He now believes it’s feasible to finish tomorrow’s qualifying session in the top nine, allowing him to progress to Sunday’s Fast Nine shootout for pole.

“I had a lot of confidence in the guys,” said Ferrucci afterward. “They’ve been here since 5:30 this morning, turning and burning, and they gave me the confidence to come back out and go flat in our first run and go back out and put the car in the top 10 and have some of the fastest four lap averages.

“I can’t argue with that; our Hy-Vee Honda has been on fire today. I’m thinking that we are going for the top nine tomorrow so we’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’m proud of these guys. We’re going to button some things up that we didn’t have a chance to last night and keep massaging this girl until she’s fast.

“I’m just a racer and I just want to go fast and today’s the best day to go do that. We just keep pushing each other, the team keeps working hard, I want to keep working hard for the team and I’m just proud that the Hy-Vee car is fast. I’m happy to see them up in high spirits, especially after everything that’s happened.

:Normally it brings a team down but for us it brought us closer together and lifted us up. I’m alright now, I don’t feel [pain] at all, it’s all that adrenaline. A lot of people came over and helped out and made sure that I’m comfortable, especially the doctors.

“A huge thank you to the AMR Safety team – they are without a doubt the best in the business.  Just the fact that they spent all the time with me going over to Methodist [Hospital] and coming back and doing some work on my leg this morning making sure it’s all bandaged up and ready to go.”

There will be a practice session from 9am-10pm tomorrow and then 4-lap qualifying will begin at 12 noon. Ferrucci is 13th to run.

After all 35 entrants have made their first runs, cars can make unlimited runs thereafter until the gun goes off at 5.50pm. At that point, grid positions 10 through 30 will be locked in place. The top nine will progress to the Fast Nine shootout – just one 4-lap run per car – on Sunday morning, while the bottom five will be consigned to the Last Chance Qualifying shootout for the three slots on the last row of the grid.

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