Shank’s team takes second huge hit in as many Rolex races (VIDEO)

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Ex-Indy Lights driver Gustavo Yacaman has made a name for himself in the last two GRAND-AM Rolex Series races, albeit I’m guessing not in the manner he or his team would like.

Two weeks ago in Detroit, Yacaman attempted a pass on Memo Rojas’ No. 01 Cessna-sponsored Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley at Turn 4. Yacaman released off wide and pushed Rojas into the concrete barrier, which sent him then careening back across the track into the path of John Pew – Yacaman’s teammate at Michael Shank Racing.

The damaged No. 60 MSR Ford Riley was sent to Riley Technologies for repairs, and made it back to the track in time for this weekend’s race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Yacaman was placed on probation for the Detroit contact.

But as fate would have it, Yacaman and Rojas would be at it again in the early stages. Yacaman made a move to Rojas’ inside at Turn 6 at Mid-Ohio, a right-hander that leads into the Esses.

Rojas ran wide as Yacaman made it through, but mere moments later he slid off the road into the gravel, then returned to the track with his No. 6 Ford Riley on fire. Yacaman parked the car just left of the racing line and near a concrete barrier.

It has left Shank another mountain to climb in the two weeks before the team’s next race, the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen at Watkins Glen International, on June 29. But as the team owner has tweeted (@MichaelShankRac) on Monday, repairs are already underway, and don’t rule out a return for that race.

The repaired, rebuilt No. 60 Roberts Electrical Construction Co. Ford Riley finished fourth in the hands of Pew and returning co-driver Ozz Negri. Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi won the race overall.

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

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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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.”