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With a break at Indy, several 500 rookie drivers visit Fort Wayne

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – We are ‘Focused on the Finish Line’ and the Indianapolis 500, which you can watch Sunday on Fort Wayne’s NBC. A few of the drivers were in the Fort Tuesday, and our Jon Wilson was able to catch up with them.

With a break in the action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, three drivers were in town Tuesday, all of them rookies. Even with a day off, they still had fun hanging out at a racetrack, a bit of a unique one at that, as they ready themselves for the big race.

Driver of #19 Cly-Del Honda, Santino Ferrucci says, “There’s a huge buildup to this month, and everything that you do in preparation for it, and now, we’re finally into the execution part which is nice.”

Those the words from IndyCar driver Santino Ferrucci as he is just a few days from not only making his Indianapolis 500 debut, it will also be his first race ever on an oval.

Ferrucci says, “I think it’s one of those things, you look back at what you’ve accomplished, to see your first ever oval was the Indy 500, it’s something like, wow.”

Ferrucci and fellow rookies Felix Rosenqvist and Ben Hanley were in Fort Wayne Tuesday as part of Media Day for the 500. We met up at Real Speed Raceway, where they hit the track again.

As Rosenqvist preps for his 500 debut, he says he has leaned on teammate and past 500 winner Scott Dixon for advice throughout the month.

Driver of #10 NTT Data Honda, Felix Rosenqvist says, “With his experience, he’s able to point out problems with the car very early on in the week, which is a big benefit.”

After a few laps here on the track practicing, we’re now ready to race. Crashing here, that’s one thing. At Indy, it’s another.

Rosenqvist says, “When you go towards 230 mph, you have to have a lot of respect for it. You know what it feels like hitting the wall at that speed and you just don’t want to go through it, so you really focus on your tools in the car, how the car feels.”

Like Ferrucci, driver Ben Hanley also will make his first start on a track with only left turns.

Driver of #81 DragonSpeed Chevrolet, Ben Hanley says, “Normally drivers get a bit irate if the steering wheel’s not quite level, where as here, you’re driving down the straight turning right. So it’s completely unnatural the first few laps you turn.”

For him, it’s about being patient, even at speeds 200 mph plus.

Hanley says, “If we overstep the mark once, then that’s our race ended, so we have to be careful of that and not rush things and just ease our way into it.”

After a little over an hour having fun at the track, I had to ask what milk they would have if one of them won the race.

Rosenqvist says, “2%, it’s a milk I’ve always been drinking. Normally I don’t drink milk, I just eat it with cereal, but it’s always been the one, so it felt the most natural.”

Hanley says, “I think I went 2%, something a bit lighter than normal.”

Ferrucci says, “I had to go with whole milk. I mean, why not?”

If you’re looking to root for one of them Sunday, Ferrucci starts 23rd, Hanley starts 27th, And Rosenqvist rolls of from the 29th position.

Jon Wilson

Jon Wilson is the Weekend Meteorologist at Fort Wayne’s NBC. You can catch Jon’s weekend forecasts on Fort Wayne’s NBC at 6 and 11 p.m.

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