INDIANAPOLIS — INDYRIVALS. That used to be a slogan for the NTT IndyCar Series a couple of years ago. Now, we have a rivalry in the making. It’s between two of the rising stars in the series too.
In the last race of the season on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Santino Ferrucci and Colton Herta shared the front row. The two didn’t last there long.
In the opening corner of the opening lap, Ferrucci went off course and forced his way back on. He collected his rookie teammate Alex Palou and second year driver Felix Rosenqvist as a result.
Well, it at least looked that way at first. Replay showed a different side.
Ferrucci, was aggressive on the start and I mean, why wouldn’t he? But, Herta pushed Ferrucci off course to begin with. He even admitted to doing so.
“He was on the outside, and I got halfway in front of him, so that was my corner at that point,” Herta said after his win that day. “I tried to leave him as much room as I could, and he just wanted to stick on the outside. So, I had to push him off.”
I wondered if Ferrucci was over the incident. I mean, there were rumors that he could end up at Andretti Autosport as Herta’s teammate in 2021. That notion, he shot down pretty quickly saying that he’s hopeful to be back in his No. 18 Honda with Dale Coyne Racing and that he’s pretty much set to be back instead. He thinks that they can do something big there.
So, in terms of Herta, is it a just move on situation and focus on Indy now?
“I’m not going to move on,” Ferrucci told me on Thursday morning from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We’ll see what happens. I already talked to Pappas and to be honest, if you flipped the roles I would have done the same thing.
“On the other hand, if we ever get to a tangle here or any future races, he knows that he’s never getting any room.”
Ferrucci, isn’t shy of being aggressive and I applaud him for that. This potential rivalry is just what the series needs. A villain isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They’re polarizing. They help build a brand. It helps all around.
The Connecticut native hasn’t shied away from that on his side and it’s actually good for the series. But, how do you balance a rivalry and trying to finish in the top 10 of the standings?
Ferrucci, wants to stay in the top 10 and feels like he can actually not only stay there, but finish even higher.
“I think we can actually do a little bit better,” he said. “Obviously not had some unlucky races. We’re going to work on that. New crew from Ohio. It’s been going really well and working its way out.
“We always try and go out for the win. I’m not going to take unnecessary risks and put the car in jeopardy for that. That is kind of childish. We’ve done a lot of work on the sim and felt really confident in the car when we raced here in July.”