Santino Ferrucci says he believes he can be in contention to win the 2020 IndyCar championship if he and Dale Coyne racing “play our cards right”.
The 22-year-old made his debut in the North-American series last year, scoring a best result of fourth place on three occasions – including at the Texas Motor Speedway, the host of this weekend’s season opener.
Ferrucci gained a reputation in 2020 as being strong on oval circuits, achieving his other two fourth-place finishes at Pocono and Gateway, while also obtaining the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award.
The Connecticut-born racer has switched to the Vasser-Sullivan entry at DCR in 2020 and believes that it is “definitely realistic to fight for wins on ovals” this year, while also not ruling out championship success.
“Obviously a championship is full of all sorts of variables,” he said. “You have still massive teams with big budgets that will be up throughout the winter and throughout this extra time during extra prep and have different tools, but I do think that we will be in contention for a championship this year.
“It’s just about playing our cards right, there are five ovals this year and obviously for the statistics, there are technically more oval races to street and road courses. But with that, we are missing a lot of street course races, which I did enjoy and I did think we were very competitive with.
“So we’re really focused in on our road course program to make sure that that is in the best shape possible for when we do get to those double-headers.”
Since IndyCar and Champ Car merged in 2008, only Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti Autosport and Team Penske drivers have tasted championship success.
After achieving its first race win in 2009, DCR has won five more races, the last two of which came at the hands of Sebastien Bourdais, Ferrucci’s 2019 teammate.
This year, he is joined by rookie Alex Palou, who will take part in his IndyCar and first oval race this weekend. When asked what advice he would give the Spaniard, Ferrucci said: “I’m still trying to think of advice to give myself!
“I mean, this is such a wild card going in, like I said, with no testing. First race, everyone has not driven a car since February, so I mean, to be honest, it’s just going to be a thing of patience, especially for him with the ovals. He’ll have to take it lap by lap, corner by corner and build up to it slowly.
“He’s a very talented driver. I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it real quick. I know he’s got fantastic car control, so I’m sure he’ll love them, and I think we’ll make a really great pairing this year. I’m looking forward to it.”
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