Race Weekend Central

Santino Ferrucci & Kyle Kirkwood Tangle Off-Track in Detroit Practice

Santino Ferrucci ended Saturday’s (June 1) NTT IndyCar Series practice session on the streets of Detroit hot under the collar after on-track contact with Kyle Kirkwood.

The two came into contact entering turn five, where Ferrucci attempted to place his No. 14 A. J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet to the inside of Kirkwood’s No. 27 Andretti Global Honda. Their sidepods touched under braking, pushing Kirkwood wide while Ferrucci drove away on the corner exit.

After the session, the two drivers had very different interpretations of what had happened between them, made evident before there was a single word exchanged in the paddock. Upon seeing Kirkwood walking toward the No. 14’s pit stall, Ferrucci jumped the wall and grabbed the Floridian by the collar, making his stance on the matter perfectly clear.

“You turned into me!” Ferrucci said as the two were separated by a crew member and an INDYCAR official. “You turned into me, you f****** piece of s***. Don’t f****** ever do that again!”

Kirkwood quickly left the scene after being unhanded by Ferrucci and could be seen chuckling as he walked away. When NBC caught up with the Floridian, he seemed unbothered by the exchange.

“I did that?!” he asked with an expression of amusement.

“It all happened right there. Everyone stops [at turn five]. 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 [Herta] too … I don’t know what he was 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 and is shaking me. It’s like ‘what are you getting mad at me for?!’ It’s insane, but we’ve seen it before with him.”

Ferrucci had, in fact, drawn Herta’s ire at the same corner later in the session. The Foyt driver was slowed down running behind another car and, based on the available footage, may have intentionally backed Herta up at the apex before accelerating.

Whatever the case, Herta was likewise nonchalant about the exchange after the end of the session.

“I don’t even know what I did,” Herta exclaimed. “That guy’s a head case … 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. So I passed him back and ruined his lap.”

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Upon seeing the replay showing Ferrucci sandwiched between Herta and Marcus Ericsson, the No. 26 driver cut his assessment of the event short.

“He can do his thing, we’ll do ours,” he said. “He’s driving a Penske car to 20th again for like the fifth consecutive weekend. I’m happy with what we’re doing here, the Gainbridge car is fast and we don’t have time for him and his shenanigans at the back.

“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 my problem.”

Ferrucci, equally as calm, shared his thoughts with NBC as well.

“We’re in practice,” he said. “I’m on a lap that’s going to put us P3, right? I know everybody’s fighting traffic. I’m coming down the hill, and who just turns into somebody and slides the car into you?

“It’s such a d***ish move, man. I grew up karting with him, known him a long time. I’ve always been better with him in racecraft. [I’ve] never seen him do something like that dumb, but you saw him turn into [Josef] Newgarden yesterday. It’s a shame. It’s a tight track, we’re way quicker than this and it would’ve been nice to get one clean lap in.

“It’s fine. It is what it is.”

When told that Kirkwood suggested Ferrucci changed direction and initiated the contact, the Connecticut native’s words became more pointed.

“If you go back and watch, and see you him step on it and turn left, I don’t know what more evidence you need from that,” he said.

“And then his little boyfriend teammate over there did the same thing. Yeah, leave it to them, man. We’re out here doing our own thing. It’s Detroit, I’m having a blast, the crew’s all fired up. We know we’ve got a hot rod.”

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Ferrucci previously had an on-track encounter early in the race at Barber Motorsports Park in April, though any disagreement the two may have had was kept on the track.

Herta and Kirkwood finished the practice session 1-2 with Herta’s fastest lap clocking at 1:01.5726. Ferrucci ended the morning in 20th with a fastest time of 1:03.1919.

About the author

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Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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