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New Detroit track “more like Long Beach than Belle Isle”, says Ferrucci

AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci hopes that the new downtown Detroit street circuit lives up to the exciting IndyCar racing that the nearby Belle Isle track produced.

Debris fences for Detroit rendering

Photo by: Detroit Grand Prix

Ferrucci, who finished third in last weekend’s Indianapolis 500, took some laps around the street course layout – which will be used for the first time this weekend – in his Chevrolet Tahoe SUV in the off-season.

The 1.7-mile, nine-turn circuit features a huge straight on one of Detroit’s most famous streets and, unique in IndyCar, a split pitlane.

“That place looks phenomenal,” said Ferrucci. “We went in the wintertime to go check it out. I just got a picture of pitlane. Super excited for everything.

“Very happy to be going 200 miles an hour down Jefferson [Avenue, one of the five major roads in the city]. It was still bumpy in the Tahoe that we took a hot lap in, so I can't imagine what it's going to be like in the IndyCar.

“The straight is longer than the one at the [Indy] GP. In the GP, you do have a lot of passing at the end of that straight going into the first turn. I think it will provide for some great racing.

“I hope we have a great strategy race like we did on Belle Isle. I think that was our best street course race as far as entertainment goes. I'm hoping the new Detroit track lives up to that.”

Santino Ferrucci, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

Santino Ferrucci, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

When asked to compare which other tracks are similar, he replied: “I think this track is actually going to run a little bit more like Long Beach in a sense than Belle Isle.

“Belle Isle was challenging because it was multiple different types of pavement, concrete, old stuff, new stuff. It was like a blend of everything. Versus this track, they repaved most of the city, changed everything.

“This is actually a pretty wide street course, believe it or not. This is going to be really fast. Might run more like a race that was, pre my time in this series, like Baltimore or Houston.

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“I'm excited for the dual pit lane. I haven't seen that before. I think that will really change things up. I just hope we get the race distance right with the strategy. I trust Firestone to do the right thing with the tiyes so we have some tyre deg as well, which is kind of huge.

“There's so many unknowns going into this event, the one thing we know will be different is the pits. I think [drive steward] Max Papis is going to have a really rough two weeks with going from the 500 now to Detroit with the zero-contact rule in pitlane. That one might have to get waived a little bit.”

Ferrucci hasn’t been able to virtually sample the track in Chevy’s simulator, as the Foyt squad is too low down its pecking order.

He added: “We're actually one of the few teams that we don't have the simulator, just because it's so allotted to some of the top teams and they book their days out in advance. I actually won't be able to see it virtually or run it until we go to practice on Friday.

“But, having taken some laps there in the Tahoe, it’s definitely a lot of fun.”

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