Report: Montoya out at Ganassi in 2014

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Well, here’s one for the NASCAR silly season file. According to team sources who told the Associated Press, Juan Pablo Montoya won’t be back at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for 2014.

Montoya’s NASCAR career has been largely underwhelming with only two wins and one Chase for the Sprint Cup appearance (eighth in 2009) since his then-shock decision to leave Formula One midway through 2006. He’s spent his entire Sprint Cup career with CGR, first in the Havoline, then Target No. 42.

He also had a successful two-year run with Ganassi in IndyCar before heading to F1. He won the 1999 CART championship as a rookie, and took the 2000 Indianapolis 500 victory a year later.

The speculation will now begin in earnest as to who could replace Montoya in the 42. Ryan Newman’s a free agent and this could be a potential landing spot for him. Kurt Busch? Possibly for the Furniture Row Racing driver, although you’d expect he’ll stay put after needing to change teams each of the last two seasons.

Logical speculation though would lead you to think Kyle Larson, Ganassi’s prized developmental driver, will play a role in the proceedings. He could either be promoted full-time or as part of a ride share with a veteran. Either way, expect that with this news, Larson’s chances of making a Sprint Cup race cameo later this year will increase substantially.

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.”