Santino Ferrucci, the 2019 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and fourth-place finisher in the 2020 Indianapolis 500, will officially align with Toyota Racing Development and will pilot a Toyota Supra for Sam Hunt Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in a limited schedule as he transitions from open wheel to stock cars.
“I’m incredibly proud to join Sam Hunt racing and TRD,” the 22-year old Ferrucci said in a team release. “I think together we will have a ton of success. Working with Sam these past few weeks has been fantastic and his drive to put out a great race car and team is second to none. The transition to NASCAR will be tough especially with no practice, qualifying, or testing but I welcome the challenge. My limited experience before the green flag in Miami will be the Chili Bowl and my Super Late Model test. So far everyone at NASCAR and the people that make up the NASCAR community have been very welcoming to me, the testing that I’ve done has gone really well, and I am excited to start racing!”
Although Ferrucci is an established road racer, he will be competing in a schedule focusing primarily on 1.5-mile intermediate ovals. The Connecticut-native will get his NASCAR season kicked off on February 27th in the NXS event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. No official tally of races that Ferrucci will run in 2021 has been given, and no sponsorship partners have been announced yet for the No. 26 entry, but it’s believed the schedule will equal around 20 races for Ferrucci.
According to a release from SHR, Ferrucci has yet to actually compete in a race with a stock car. The only experience he has in a car with fenders was limited testing in a Super Late Model with FURY race cars last year. However, that doesn’t worry the owner of SHR.
“Santino’s passion and drive was apparent the first time we sat down together,” explained 27-year old team owner Sam Hunt. “I had heard about him, seen some stories from open wheel, but waited to form my opinion until we spent some time together one on one. He’s a great kid. He’s passionate, and he’s ready to learn the race craft of NASCAR. He’s situationally aware and works hard for every sponsor and investor he has. I have no doubts that he will be a strong competitor for us once he learns how these heavy cars drive, and how these races run. We are all excited to get to work with him.”
Despite not recording any podium finishes through 35 starts in the NTT IndyCar Series with Dale Coyne’s team, Ferrucci recorded a career-best finish of fourth four separate times. In addition to the 2020 Indy 500, Ferrucci also finished fourth at Texas Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Gateway in 2019.
There will be a learning curve, no doubt, but if Ferrucci can get the heavier stock cars figured out, he has the potential to be a big star in the world of NASCAR.