After two seasons in the NTT IndyCar Series with Dale Coyne Racing, Santino Ferrucci will be making his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut at Homestead-Miami on February 27. Ferrucci will be piloting the No. 26 Toyota Supra on a part-time basis during the 2021 season in a schedule primarily focused on speedways and short tracks.
Prior to his two seasons in the IndyCar Series Ferrucci raced overseas working up the Formula ladder, his final season coming in 2018 in what was a controversial campaign in Formula 2. Ferrucci was banned from four events after deliberate contact with his teammate Arjun Maini; further controversy arose when he was caught driving between the Formula 1 and 2 paddocks while texting on a cell phone. Ferrucci was fined €6,000 ($7,334.99 USD).
Repeated controversy has given Ferrucci something of a negative reputation in the racing world, however his performance behind the wheel has yielded some strong, consistent results. In 2019 Ferrucci’s seventh-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 earned him the Rookie of the Race award, and a year later in the 500 Ferrucci would tie his career-best finish of fourth. In both of his IndyCar seasons his best points finish was 13th.
Ferrucci has no previous stock car experience aside from a Super Late Model test at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina, although in 2021 he will be making his second Chili Bowl Midget Nationals start against some of NASCAR’s top stars. Ferrucci and Hunt both hope that their alliance with Toyota Racing Development could give him the backing he needs to post strong results.
Team owner Sam Hunt has made it clear that this will be a learning curve for Ferrucci, but otherwise he’s confident in Ferrucci’s ability behind the wheel.
“Santino’s passion and drive was apparent the first time we sat down together,” Hunt said. “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.”
Sam Hunt Racing was formed as DRIVE Technology in 2013, fielding NASCAR K&N Pro Series entries for Hunt in a pair of part-time campaigns. The organization’s first season in the XFINITY Series was in 2020, with Colin Garrett, Brandon Gdovic, and Mason Diaz making starts for the team.