Atlanta Update: Clint Bowyer leads as race crosses halfway point

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Clint Bowyer currently leads an off-strategy Joey Logano as the Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway has crossed the halfway mark.

In real-time points, Bowyer has also taken over the championship lead from Jimmie Johnson, who was invovled in an early incident that also featured his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Wild Card hopeful, Kasey Kahne.

On a restart at Lap 25, Matt Kenseth got into the back of a slow Jeff Gordon, which caused the field to stack up. Kahne then ran into the back of Johnson, while Jeff Burton and Mark Martin got into back of Kahne.

Kahne went to the garage with radiator and oil cooler damage, while Johnson went to the pits with damage to the front and rear ends of his car. Kahne has since returned to action, and Johnson has been simply logging laps toward the back of the field.

Early leader Logano, who, like Kahne, is also on the Chase bubble, has had an up-and-down night. On Lap 102, a vibration forced him to the pits and put him on an alternate strategy.

He inherited the lead following a cycle of green stops around Lap 120-130, but had to stop on Lap 152 as he was unable to get the caution he needed. Another green cycle of stops later on put Logano back in the lead briefly, but Bowyer would gain the point again on the track.

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.”