Photo: Walter G. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Ferrucci Clashes with Trio of Drivers Saturday at Detroit

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

It was Santino Ferrucci vs the world Saturday on the Streets of Detroit.

The fiery driver of the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet wasted no time in making enemies on the tight confines of the Motor City street course, first drawing the ire of a pair of Andretti Global drivers – Colton Herta and Kyle Kirkwood – in the morning practice session.

After Kirkwood slowed to allow his teammate Herta by Ferrucci, who was approaching behind them, showed his displeasure by swerving his car toward Kirkwood, with the two banging wheels in the process.

A lap later, Ferrucci appeared to slam on the brakes in front of Herta, maneuvering his car from side to side in an effort not to allow Herta to pass him.

When the three eventually made it back to pit road at the end of the session, things got a little more heated when Kirkwood walked over to Ferrucci’s pit to have a word with him, only for Ferrucci to jump down off pit wall and rush over to shove Kirkwood in the chest.

Despite being separated by INDYCAR officials, Ferrucci made sure to give Kirkwood a piece of his mind, yelling: “You turned into me. You turning into me, you fucking piece of shit! Don’t you ever do that again.”

Kirkwood could only laugh about the encounter as he turned around and walked back to his pit box and his crew.

“We’re in practice. I’m on a lap that’s gonna put us P3, right? I know everybody’s fighting traffic,” Ferrucci said afterwards.

“I’m coming down the hill and who just turns into somebody and slides the car into you? I mean, it’s such a dickish move, man.

“I grew up karting with him, known him a long time. Always been better with him in racecraft. Never seen him do something like that. You saw him turn into Newgarden yesterday. It’s a shame.

“It’s a tight track. We’re way quicker than this and it would have been at least nice to get a lap in. It’s fine. You know, it is what it is.”

Ferrucci added that he didn’t think the incident was his fault and the onboard camera from Kirkwood’s car would corroborate his side of the story.

“Well, if you go back and watch, you see him step on it and turn left. I mean, I don’t know what more evidence you need from that, man. He’s got the onboard camera, not us,” Ferrucci said with a grin.

“And then his little boyfriend teammate over there did the same thing. So yeah, leave it to them, man. We’re out here doing our own thing.

“You know, it’s Detroit, I’m having a blast. I mean, crew’s all fired up. We know we got a hot rod.”

Kirkwood refuted Ferrucci’s side of the story, laying the blame at his feet for their run-in.

“Of course he’s going to say that,” Kirkwood said. “Everyone stops here, right? Like everyone has to wait, get your gap, get a clean lap in. It’s practice, relax – and that’s not what he did.

“He decided to do it to me, then he did it to Colton too. They nearly collided. I don’t know what he’s doing. His lap was already ruined. He just ruined his next lap too. It’s just dumb. It’s dangerous.

“He drove right into me, purposely tried to drive me into the wall, and then I went up and tried to talk to him about it and then he grabs me. He’s like shaking me. I’m like, what are you getting mad at me for?

“It’s insane. But we’ve seen it before with him.”

Kirkwood added that he just wanted to have a civil conversation with Ferrucci on pit road before things escalated.

“I was just going to tell him that was completely unnecessary. Everyone needs to get their gaps. Everyone needs to get a lap in so you can try and tune on your car, but if you’re crashing into people on purpose, then you’re not going to be able to tune on your car.

“It was kind of to see where his head was at because clearly he wasn’t on a fast lap anyways. It just makes no sense to me. At all.”

Looking over at the scoring monitor, where Kirkwood was ranked second after that practice session and Ferrucci back in 20th, Kirkwood concluded by saying he doesn’t expect the tension from Saturday to boil over into the race on Sunday.

“I think based on that, he’ll be a little bit behind us, so I’m not too worried.”

Herta also gave his two cents on the matter, noting he didn’t even know why Ferrucci was heated with him in the first place.

“I don’t even know what I did,” Herta said laughingly. “I don’t know. That guy’s a head case but I’m happy with our program. I’m not really sure what I did to make him mad.

“He passed me before the alternate line. Like we’re all waiting for our gaps, and he passed me and so I passed him back and ruined his lap…

“But yeah, he can do his thing, we’ll do ours. He’s driving a Penske car to P20th again for like the fifth consecutive weekend. I’m happy with what we’re doing here. The Gainbridge car is fast.

“We don’t have time for him and his shenanigans at the back.”

Much like Kirkwood, he didn’t expect things to linger over into race day on Sunday.

“He’s always a you-know-what in the race, so it doesn’t affect me. Most of the time I don’t race him, so it’s not really my problem.”

Fast forward to qualifying and Ferrucci was back at it again, this time with his most recent nemesis – Romain Grosjean.

During the opening round of qualifying, the two found each other on track, with Grosjean failing to advance into the second round and as a result, blaming Ferrucci for impeding him on track to not allow him to get his fast lap in.

After climbing from his car, Grosjean was a man on a mission, marching down pit road ready to exchange words with someone and once he arrived in Ferrucci’s pit box, that man was AJ Foyt Racing President Larry Foyt.

“I just said that they need to do a better job at not blocking people, crashing into people. Just generally being out of the way of everyone,” said Grosjean.

“They screwed me in qualifying. I don’t know why he slowed on his lap. I was seven-tenths down on my lap. I finished the lap three-tenths down. I lost four-tenths behind him. I really don’t understand IndyCar race control. If that’s no blocking. I don’t know what is.

“I’m really annoyed. We’ve had a tough weekend. I think the car came alive in qualifying, but I just couldn’t get my lap.”

After qualifying his car into 10th place, Ferrucci gave his side of the story with Grosjean, noting he didn’t know who was behind him at that moment and it was all a result of the tight confines of the Detroit circuit.

“I actually had no idea he was behind me. I thought it was Will [Power] because that was the last car that I passed,” Ferrucci said. “They were just reading off gaps and we were trying to do a cool down and push.

“It’s tight here, man. It’s tough. If IndyCar is not calling it, then it’s not really a big deal. He honestly didn’t look that close to me when I was checking the mirrors.

“It’s just a small track. Short track racing on a street course.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.