Pedersen Joins Foyt for 2023

For the second year in a row A. J. Foyt Racing will feature a rookie driver in one of their cars in the NTT Indycar Series. Benjamin Pedersen, winner of the Portland Indy Lights race in 2022, has a multi -year deal with team. The announcement for Foyt Racing:

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 28, 2022) – AJ Foyt Racing Team President Larry Foyt has hired Benjamin Pedersen, the 23-year-old Indy Lights veteran, to drive one of the team’s Chevrolet-powered Indy cars in the 2023 NTT INDYCAR Series.

The agreement spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.

“I’m super excited to get going with the team,” said Pedersen, a dual citizen (Danish and American) who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, raised in Seattle, Wash. and is currently living in Indianapolis. “I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to INDYCAR and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season. INDYCAR has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”

Foyt’s interest in the young rookie began early in the season when a trusted colleague suggested Pedersen to him. Pedersen and Foyt met, and Pedersen started shadowing the team, which included standing on the No. 14 pit box, monitoring the radio and intercom communication during the practices and races plus sitting in on team meetings.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100% committed to INDYCAR, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races. It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Pedersen moves to INDYCAR after two seasons in the Indy Lights Series where he claimed his first pole and victory at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway earlier this month. Having stood on the podium 11 times over the past two seasons, the young Dane spoke about the benefits of having participated in the top rung of the Road to Indy ladder series.

Pedersen enjoys the Champagne celebration after his Indy Lights Series victory in Portland. (INDYCAR Photo)

“The Indy Lights Series and car serves as the ultimate transition into INDYCAR,” he offered. “From a series perspective, Indy Lights goes to the INDYCAR events, so we share the same weekend format, points, rules, race director, etc. This makes the transition very natural to INDYCAR as all of these things will stay the same.

Pedersen in the Lights Series season opener in St. Petersburg where he finished second. (INDYCAR Photo)

“From a car perspective, I can say firsthand that the Indy Lights car is a great car to transition from since it really rewards pushing to a high limit and almost over-driving a bit on the peak of the tire.”

Pedersen, who tested an Indy car for another team several months ago, noted the differences between the two formulas.

“When I had my debut Indy car test a few months ago, it was a very successful day topping the time charts and I found it very natural to transition into the Indy car,” said Pedersen, whose car will operate out of Foyt’s Speedway, Ind. shop. “The biggest differences were the brakes, dampers, tires, and aero. You have a much higher sensation of grip compared to the Indy Lights car and I actually felt the Indy car was a bit easier to drive in many regards. The carbon brakes are the biggest difference, and they allow you to brake so late and hard, and when combined with all the other things mentioned above, it’s nearly impossible to lock the brakes on the initial brake phase due to how much grip there is. It’s just a really enjoyable car to drive that really rewards attacking the brakes and also asking a lot of the tire laterally (side to side).”

The team will begin testing in January as they prepare for the 2023 season which will open on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, March 5th.

Pedersen indulges in an ice cream – straight from the Foyt Racing ice cream freezer chest – along with crew members O’Ryan Bosek (left) and Jeremy Levenson. The Freezer filled with assorted Good Humor ice cream and ice pops has become a popular staple in Foyt’s Indy 500 garage.

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2023 Schedule- Some Thoughts

Yetserday’s schedule reveal produced some f the predictable hand wringing, and while there are some disappointing aspects to the new lineup, there are some good things about it.

Better Spacing

Except for a four week stretch in May and the first week of June, the series races virtually every other week until the final three consecutive weeks of the season. The May/Detroit run used to also include a fifth weekend, which was a grind for teams and fans alike. Since three of the four weeks are at IMS, it shouldn’t be as rough on everyone involved.

I am glad Texas remains on the schedule, at least for one more year. I’m not sure if the reconfiguration will be Indycar friendly.

Ther are no conflicts with Sebring or LeMans in 2023.

Changes and Other Issues

The series just can’t seem to close the season opening gap. There are still four weeks between the first two races of the season.

Detroit moves to a circuit on the streets of downtown and off of Belle Isle. I’m not a fan of the proposed circuit from the drawings I’ve seen, but I need to see how it will race before I pass final judgment.

Moving the World Wide Technology race to a Sunday afternoon may not be good for attendance. I hope it is run earlier in the afternoon to avoid some of the heat and humidity.

I hope this is the final year of the second road course race at IMS. Irt is Indycar’s worst weekend as Indycar plays second fiddle to Nascar.

What happened to night racing? I wonder if it is a television issue, but I don’t know why a night race can’t be on USA network or Peacock exclusively.

A Better 2024?

I hear things may improve in 2024. Marshall Pruett posted on Racer yesterday that Indycar is looking at adding a venue, hopefully Milwaukee, in 2024.

We shall see.

Until then, make your plans for next season. St. pete is just a little more than five months away, and the Indianapolis 500 is eight months from today.

Johnson Won’t Return Full Time; May Still Run 500

Photo- James Black, Indycar

Jimmie Johnson said today in a newly released video that he will not un the 2023 full time Indycar schedule.

He said,

“I will not compete full time in 2023. I’m not saying that I am out of a race car or not competing at all. I still very much have the desire to compete.”

Johnson hinted that he is looking to run sports car races, mainly the IMSA endurance races and possibly Le Mans. H esaid he is still talking to Chip Ganassi, but didn’t specify whether he would an oval only program, just the Indianapolis 500, or no Indycar races at all.

Photo-Chris Owens, Indycar

My guess is he does the Indianapolis 500 only in Indycar. The Rolex 24 hour, Sebring, and Le Mans. He hinted that if a Nascar fits his schedule, he will run one as well.

Johnson did well in 2022 in his first year on Indycar ovals, with a fifth place at Iowa in Race 2 and a sixth place at Texas. He struggled on the road and street courses both in 2021 and 2022.

I thought it took a lot of courage for Johnson to take on the challenge of Indycar after a successful career in NASCAR. I admire his effort. Johnson is true racer, the likes of which is all too rare in this era of specialization. I thuink given the right situation in sports cars, he will do well/

Indycar Releases Year End Review

From Indycar

Thrilling 2022 Season Propels
Upward Trajectory for INDYCAR
  INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022) –
Five drivers taking the race for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship to the final laps of the season finale. A return to a full racing calendar, with successful reboots of two events. Growing numbers of viewers on television and streaming platforms. An exciting new era for Indy Lights. Add it all up, and INDYCAR’s trajectory during and after the 2022 season continues to move upward.
“INDYCAR continues to build on its strengths as the fastest, most daring and exciting circuit racing in the world,” said Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO. “Working closely with our teams, manufacturers and sponsor partners, our long-term strategy for growth is succeeding at every level.
“The 2022 season was memorable on and off the track for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, and we can’t wait to see this collaboration generate even more progress next year.”
Thrilling, Close Competition The NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship was decided at the final event of the year for the 17th consecutive season, with Will Power clinching his second title for Team Penske by just 16 points over teammate Josef Newgarden. Five drivers – Power, Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske and Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing – entered the season finale eligible to win the Astor Challenge Cup as season champion. That’s the most drivers with a chance for the championship in a regular-points season finale since 2003.The championship lead also was exchanged seven times between McLaughlin, Newgarden, Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing, Power and Ericsson during the season. Nine different drivers won at least one of the 17 races this season, led by Newgarden with five. That’s just two shy of the all-time INDYCAR SERIES record for different winners in one season.
Power and Dixon also made history with significant career milestones. Power broke a tie with fellow legend Mario Andretti with his 68th career pole at the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, an all-time INDYCAR SERIES record. Dixon’s victory at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville was the 53rd of his illustrious career, breaking a tie with Andretti for No. 2 all time on the INDYCAR SERIES win list, behind only the 67 victories by the legendary A.J. Foyt.Other highlights were Ericsson’s thrilling victory in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and three wins by McLaughlin in just his second season of open-wheel racing.
Vibrant, Consistent Schedule After two seasons of pandemic-related reshuffling, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES returned to a more traditional, 17-race schedule in 2022, with anchored dates familiar to fans.
Highlights included once again starting the season with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and finishing with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach restored to its traditional April date, and the welcome return of the Honda Indy Toronto to Canada’s largest city for the first time since 2019.Another welcome sight was the return of full capacity for fans at the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 29 after two years of pandemic-related restrictions, including no fans admitted in 2020. Fans responded with vigor, as a near-sellout crowd of more than 300,000 attended the world’s largest sporting gathering since the onset of COVID-19.Perhaps the biggest success story of the 2022 schedule was the revitalization of INDYCAR racing at Iowa Speedway after a one-year hiatus. The Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend featured a doubleheader for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and a single event for Indy Lights on the fast oval. A successful promotion with enthusiastic title partner Hy-Vee, which included four concerts with country and pop music superstars at the track, resulted in big crowds despite stifling summer heat.
The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, which debuted in 2021 to rave reviews on the streets of Nashville, also continued to flourish in its second year.
Continued Audience Growth The growing popularity of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES was reflected in the most-watched season in six years on television, with viewership up 5 percent over 2021. The season averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 1.30 million viewers across NBC, USA Network, Peacock and NBC Sports digital platforms, the best in NBC Sports history. Half of the season’s 16 races on television delivered more than 1 million viewers, the highest mark since 2008. A record 14 of 17 races were on NBC network television in 2022, and selected series races also were televised by Telemundo Deportes on Universo.
This also was the most streamed INDYCAR season on record, with exponential growth compared to 2021. A series race, the Honda Indy Toronto, was streamed exclusively for the first time, and the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge was the most streamed INDYCAR SERIES race ever.
International coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and domestic and international coverage of Indy Lights was available around the world through the new INDYCAR Live! streaming platform.INDYCAR’s digital presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok also attracted record audiences, with page views also up at INDYCAR.com and IndyLights.com.
Growing Team Investment At least 25 cars competed in every NTT INDYCAR SERIES event outside of the 33-car Indianapolis 500, as teams and their commercial partners found mutual benefits from the enticing, attractive mix of street courses, natural road courses and ovals found in no other series on Earth.
Juncos Hollinger Racing switched from part time to full time with one car in 2022 and announced plans to add a second car for the 2023 season. Arrow McLaren SP also unveiled plans to add a third car to its lineup in 2023.Off the track, Arrow McLaren SP, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Andretti Autosport also announced plans for gleaming, expanded new headquarters and race shop facilities in the Indianapolis area.
New Commercial Partners Many commercial partners joined INDYCAR or NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams or extended pacts with both in 2022.PeopleReady, Shell, PIRTEK, PPG, Gallagher Insurance, The American Legion and Autograph were added to the impressive roster of INDYCAR partners, while Dallara, Gainbridge, Ruoff Mortgage and TAG Heuer extended pacts with the sanctioning body.
Sustainability Efforts Blossom Penske Entertainment continued its sustainability journey by announcing a lineup of additional energy solutions for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis Motor Speedway during May and beyond. The variety of initiatives will help reduce the carbon footprint within INDYCAR and power progress toward more sustainable motorsports in North America.Among the initiatives announced was Shell’s 100% Renewable Race Fuel to be introduced into the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The fuel developed by Shell is set to make the NTT INDYCAR SERIES the first United States-based motorsports series to power racing with 100 percent renewable race fuel and enables at least 60 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction compared to fossil-based gasoline.
Firestone also debuted a new eco-friendlier tire made from the North American-sourced guayule shrub. It was introduced during the Indy 500 pit stop competition and as the alternate tire at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.
Indy Lights Grows
INDYCAR assumed in 2022 promotion and execution of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship, the final step of preparation before the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The season featured 14 races, all at the same tracks and on the same weekends as NTT INDYCAR SERIES events as the two series blended their paddocks when possible to provide further exposure for Lights drivers. Swedish driver Linus Lundqvist won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb. Lundqvist will receive an enhancement package to climb to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES next season
.Indy Lights also saw growth in participating drivers, with 12 to 14 cars competing at every race. Like in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Lights teams also announced expansion plans for 2023, with championship team HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing planning to field eight cars.
The series also will enter a new era in 2023 with longtime NTT INDYCAR SERIES tire supplier Firestone also providing rubber for Indy Lights teams, increasing the synergy between the two series. 
 
 

Champions Power, Team Penske Share Honorsat Victory Lap Celebration  

From Indycar

  Lundqvist, HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing Saluted for Indy Lights Title
INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022) – Will Power and Team Penske stepped into the spotlight again as the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champions Saturday night during the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Power clinched his second series championship with a third-place finish in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet last Sunday at the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca. He won his first title in 2014 with Team Penske.
Australia native Power prevailed by 16 points over teammate Josef Newgarden, delivering Team Penske its record-extending 17th INDYCAR SERIES championship. Team Penske President Tim Cindric accepted the Championship Owner Award.
Newgarden and Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing also were saluted for finishing second and third, respectively, in the standings. Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season. It’s the fifth time in his career he has won this award. Power also made history last weekend by winning his 68th career pole, breaking a tie with fellow legend Mario Andretti for the all-time INDYCAR SERIES record.
Team Penske’s technical team also was honored with two awards. Kyle Moyer won the Team Manager of the Year Award for the fifth time. It’s the sixth time a Team Penske executive has won. Pennzoil presented Trevor Lacasse with the Chief Mechanic of the Year for the first time, the sixth time a Team Penske mechanic has earned this award.
Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for earning the most cumulative Pit Stop Performance Award points during the 2022 season.
Team Penske drivers Power, Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team
.Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium finish, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.
Success in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires also was honored this year at the Victory Lap, as in 2022 INDYCAR took over execution and promotion of the series that provides the last step of preparation for drivers aspiring to race in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Linus Lundqvist was honored as champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist, from Sweden, won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb.
Lundqvist also received a painting representing his 2022 championship season created by noted motorsports artist Jim Swintal, also a longtime INDYCAR SERIES race official. Swintal has painted these works for Lights champions every year since 1991.Andretti Autosport teammates Robb and Matthew Brabham also were honored for finishing second and third, respectively, in the standings.
HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and Daiva Malukas accepted an honor for their championship-winning team this season in Lights.
Hunter McElrea received the Rookie of the Year Award in Indy Lights. McElrea, from New Zealand, drove to two victories, seven podium finishes and three poles in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport entry en route to finishing fourth in the series standings.
Newgarden and Lundqvist also received the AiM Sports Move Award for their respective series, presented to the driver judged to have made the most dramatic pass of the year.  

Palou, Rosenqvist Stay Put

In the end, it was much ado about nothing. Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist will stay with the teams they raced for in 2022 next year. In nearly simultaneous announcements, both drivers and teams declared that 2023 will be status quo.

Palou in Victory Circle Sunday

Palou had indicated mid- season that he had signed with McLaren on the heels of a Ganassi announcement that his contract with the team has been extended. Palou ended the season with a win in the final race of the year at Laguna Seca last Sunday. He was fifth in the final standings. From Palou’s Twitter account:

“I’m also grateful that @CGRTeams will allow me to pursue F1 testing with @McLarenF1 outside of my INDYCAR commitment.

·Thank you Chip, Mike and the entire team for your willingness to work together and help support both the team and my personal goals throughout this process. “

Rosenqvist’s ride with Arrow McLaren SP was on the line this past season. He finished eighth in the standings, one spot behind teammate Pato O’Ward. Rosenqvist had one pole this season, at Texas. He had signed an extension with the team, but it was not specific as to which series Rosenqvist would be assigned to.

In the team’s news release, Rosenqvist said,

“There’s no better way to enter the off-season than with this news! I love this team, and I’m so happy to continue working with all the incredible people I’ve gotten to know over the past two seasons. With everything the team has in the pipeline, the continuing relationship with Pato and the addition of Alex Rossi, we are going to bring our A-game for 2023. It will be the most exciting season for me so far. Let it be March already!”

Laguna Seca Wrap Up

Post season depression is beginning to settle in, so I will attempt to combat it with a few final thoughts on the season finale.

Weather Tech Raceway is a nice track. i love the way it flows and its elevation changes. One the track sorely lacks are video boards. The only video screens are high atop the scoring pylon, too high and far away for most fans to see. I hope the management will consider installing some fan friendly screens.

I enjoyed watching Sunday’s morning warmup from turn 4. It is a sweeping righthander where you hear the change in engine pitch and hear the tire over the rumble strips as the cars head for the climb up to the corkscrew.

Will Power on his way to his second Indycar title

I watched the race from the front stretch just past the starting line. There was some fun drag racing going on at that spot throughout the field. I could see if a pass was successful when the cars got turn 4. My vantage point allowed me to see turn 4 and 5 to the right, and turns 9 and 10 to the left.

Yellow Nonsense

It was not the first time this season race control did this, but I hope it’s the last. Waiting to throw a yellow so that everyone can pit while a car is stopped in a dangerous position is foolish and detracts from the spirit of the game. They say they don’t want to ruin anyone’s race, but whether a race gets ruined is really the team’s choice when they choose when to pit or what tires to use. Let the teams ruin their own races. If a yellow is required, throw it, regardless of the lap or pit window. Indycar might as well go to competition cautions if they continue this policy.

The Sad Saga of the Final Race Winner

Whoever wins the final race of the season, if he’s not the series champion, gets a laurel and hearty handshake and then moves along. I know everyone is eager to crown the champion, and there is a television window to consider, but Alex Palou’s win was significant in many ways.

The win came amid the controversy surrounding his uncertain situation with Ganassi/McLaren for 2023, and ongoing legal battles. I admire the way Palou has kept his focus while all this is happening.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was also the final chance Palou had to win a race as defending series champion. 2004 was the last year in which the previous year’s champ did not win a race.

It’s a difficult situation. I hope Indycar can find a way to give the final race winner more recognition.

A Final Note to Start the Offseason

I am already sick of the Kyle Busch in the Indianapolis 500 next year talk. If he does come, at least there will be no suspense about Rookie of the Year.

Quick Thoughts- Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Congratulations to Will Power on his second Indycar championship. Power had a consistent season. His lowest finish was 19th at Road America, and he only finished outside of the top ten four times.

Race winner Alex Palou avoided the distinction of being the first defending championsince 2004 to not win a race the following year. Scott Dixon was the last champion to not have a win the nfoloowing year. It was a brilliant drive in what may be Palou’s final ride for Ganassi.

Congratulations to Christian Lungaard on winning the Rookie of the Year.

Palou overcame a six place grid penalty after an engine change. He backed up his fastest time in Saturday’s practice by leading this morning’s warmup.

What a great drive by Josef Newgarden coming from 25th to second.

I admire Palou’s ability to focus on the job at hand and push all the off track drama to the side. To win a race in the atmosphere he endured the second half of the season is amazing.

What a tough way for Callum Ilott to end the season after a great qualifying yesterday. With Juncos Hollinger Racing expanding to two cars form 2023, Ilott should have a more consistent year.

Newgarden won five races this season yet came up short in the championship. Two finbishes of 24th and 25th probably cost him the title.

Results

Thanks for following along this weekend. Tomorrow is a long btravel day. I willm have a season wrap up on Tuesday.