Ecclestone, France amongst SI’s “Power 50”

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Formula One president/CEO Bernie Ecclestone (pictured) and NASCAR chairman Brian France have both landed on Sports Illustrated’s inaugural “Power 50” list of the 50 most powerful figures in global sports.

Ecclestone, whose veritable racing empire begins a brand new season this weekend on the NBC Sports Network, clocks in at No. 22 on the list between Barclays Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore (No. 21) and baseball super-agent Scott Boras (No. 23). In addition to being the top authority in Grand Prix racing, the 82-year-old Englishman has also guided F1 to monster profits and worldwide TV ratings; needless to say, there’s a reason why he’s gained the title of “supremo.”

As for France, he wound up at No. 40 behind John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts (the group behind the Madden NFL video game franchise) and ahead of Coca-Cola North America’s duo of Alison Lewis and Sharon Byers. France may or may not be loved by fans for creating the current Chase playoff format, but you can’t knock his drive to make NASCAR greener (ethanol-infused fuel was instituted in 2011) or his ability to bag big-time TV contracts (last fall, he struck a new multi-year deal with Fox for $2.4 billion).

Topping SI’s “Power 50” was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who beat out NBA commissioner David Stern for the honor. Last but not least, NBC Sports president Mark Lazarus cracked the Top 10 of the list at No. 7.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing

Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent 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.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“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,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”