Santino Ferrucci vying for Rahal at the Music City Grand Prix

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Just over two weeks ago, Bobby Rahal said Santino Ferrucci may miss out on the team’s third appearance for the remainder of the 2021 season, as Rahal considers other drivers before making a decision. final on the full-time No.45 roster in 2022 – and if so, who needs to fill it.

But the 23-year-old American driver continues to be difficult to keep out of the team’s open-wheel cockpit, with four top-10s in his four IndyCar races in 2021. On Monday, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced that Ferrucci would effectively drive the No 45 at the Music City Grand Prix through the streets of Nashville on August 8 – again with the main sponsorship of Hy-Vee, who has featured on the car in each of its previous four races this year.

While it is not clear whether this decision stems from the team’s inability to land a different driver they would consider in the race for the 2022 seat, or whether it is a new vote from Confident in Ferrucci, Rahal has made it clear he’s more than thrilled with what the Connecticut native has done in a partial season schedule that began just two months ago.

“For me (Ferrucci’s record in the Indianapolis 500) was a big part of the attraction,” Rahal told IndyStar ahead of the IndyCar race in Mid-Ohio on July 4. “He’s had a few reboots over the past three years that have made me hold my breath to compete with him.

“I think he deserved Detroit after (a top 10 in the) 500. We’re playing the game the best we can right now. We may not have it in other races this year, but it is not based on a disappointment. We want to see what else is there for 2022. Overall he’s a very nice and great guy, and he’s got pace, and that excites our team.

Ferrucci finished 9th at Mid-Ohio, after taking 6th and 10th in the Detroit Grand Prix doubles program, as well as 6th in the Indy 500 to lead the three-car team that saw Graham Rahal crash. just after halfway when a wheel came out of its car after a faulty pit stop. Rahal took 32nd place and his teammate and defending champion Takuma Sato finished 14th.

Ferrucci is currently splitting his racing time this year with a partial race in the Xfinity Series with Sam Hunt Racing, running six races, four of them back-to-back in the spring which included a three-race run from 13-15-15. Since then he returned to Pocono in late June and finished 14th, but finished 33rd two weekends ago in Atlanta. At the time, he told The Associated Press that he had no other races – neither IndyCar nor Xfinity – on his schedule for the rest of the year, but hoped that a full-time lap in one of those two series materialize by the end of the season.

The elder Rahal told IndyStar the team plan to enter the No.45 in at least four of the last six races on the IndyCar program this year – Nashville, Portland, Laguna Seca and Long Beach. And with the car finishing 21st in starting points, good enough at the moment for a top 22 spot that would bring in around $ 1 million in Leaders Circle money in 2022 (if No.45 were running full-time during the season. next), Rahal told IndyStar he might even consider participating in the IndyCar’s return to the IMS road circuit on August 14, if it looks like a point pickup would make a significant difference in their chances of finishing 22nd or better.

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“Our intention is to run a third car next year,” he said. “We’re not there yet, but that’s our intention. I think it’s better than 50-50, so we want to make sure that we are prepared, in terms of a driver, with whom we think can contribute and lead the team to better things.

Email IndyStar sports reporter Nathan Brown at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @By_NathanBrown.



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