Could Santino Ferrucci be a future NASCAR superstar?
Santino Ferrucci shocked the racing world when he announced that he would be competing at the Xfinity Series level in 2021, and he has been turning heads ever since. In fact, between three straight top 15 finishes and moving up to 24th in the standings, there is a case to be made for his future in NASCAR.
The former NTT Indycar Series driver continued making waves on Saturday at Atlanta, where he placed 15th at what is arguably one of the toughest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. The 1.5-mile oval's rough surface is exceptionally punishing on tires, with drivers ending up racing the track more than they race each other.
Santino Ferrucci started the race in 12th place on Saturday but fell back to 17th by the time the first stage ended. He finished the second stage in 17th as well but was able to make some gains on track before the checkered flag.
While it's hard to pin down the reason behind Santino Ferrucci's speed so early in the going, some of it might have to do with his team's alignment with Toyota Racing. They have already supplied some stout cars this season, and Santino Ferrucci seems to be making the best of them every chance he gets.
Then again, Santino Ferrucci might just be that rare breed of driver that can slowly learn to drive anything. If nothing else, he is slowly building a profile in the NASCAR world, and though some might want to write him off, he could be a future star for Joe Gibbs Racing, or perhaps even 23XI Racing, should Bubba Wallace continue to underperform there.
It's not every day that a team is presented with a driver that holds such promise, and Sam Hunt Racing needs to do everything they can to build their program around Santino Ferrucci. If they can put together cars that are quick out of the box, he could eventually work his way into top 10 or even top 5 finishes. Given the 22-year-old's form so far, that could happen sooner rather than later.