Hornish now atop NNS standings after Chicago runner-up

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Sam Hornish Jr. finally made his move to the top of the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship today at Chicagoland Speedway thanks to an undeniably stout race car that helped him overcome an early problem on pit road.

Hornish, who finished second in the race to Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano, led the first 49 laps of the race but was penalized for speeding in the pits and was sent to 20th place for the Lap 54 restart. After the race, he said a miscommunication between himself and his No. 12 Penske team caused the penalty.

“I knew exactly when I went across the line I was going to be speeding and there were no ifs, ands or buts about it,” Hornish said according to the Associated Press. “They’re like, ‘Oh, I think we’re good.’ I’m like, ‘We’re not good. We’re going to go to the back.’

“We had 150 laps to get it done, we knew we had a good race car. The biggest thing was just maintaining the composure getting back up in the field.”

Hornish quickly made up the ground in the second stint, charging 15 spots to fifth before he made his next stop just after the halfway point of the race. He stayed within the lead pack for the remainder of the day but with 15 laps to go – one lap after the final restart of the day – he was unable to keep Logano from the lead.

“By the time that his car started falling off, it was too late for me to do enough,” Hornish said. “Ran him down, only finished a couple car lengths behind him – but really good day for the Penske organization.”

Indeed, it was. Hornish now holds a seven-point advantage over Regan Smith, who finished 13th after a Lap 129 incident that saw him lose control coming off of Turn 4 and slide into the infield grass.

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.”