Kyle Busch: “We tried everything” to keep up with Kenseth

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After the first two races of the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup, it would appear that Kyle Busch’s greatest competition for the championship will be none other than his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth.

Busch fell just short to Kenseth last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, and today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he ran out of time in his bid to hunt him down, losing out by half a second in the end.

In regards to having to likely duel with Kenseth for the Cup, Busch feels that he and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team can’t do anything different than what they’ve been doing lately.

“I think the organization is going to give the equipment to the both of us,” Busch explained at NHMS. “I don’t think any one of us is going to get better stuff. It’s just going to come down to better communication between myself and the crew chief in that way, because those are certainly the ways that you win these things.

“That’s how you build speed, getting your car better all through the weekend. But if you can unload and just hit it and be on it and get going, then that’s a better way to win each weekend…”

Kenseth was certainly “on it” at the Magic Mile today, leading a race-high 106 laps en route to his seventh victory of the year. Busch felt that his own race was “pretty good” but admitted that he couldn’t hang with Kenseth no matter what he and his team could come up with.

“Certainly, we were never as fast this weekend as the 20 [Kenseth] was,” Busch said. “They just had a special car. Sometimes you unload with them, and they’re just phenomenal. The 20 had that here this weekend.

“We tried everything to try to keep up with him and to get pace with him, but it was tough to do.”

Not helping matters for Busch, in his mind, was an ill-fated final restart with 41 laps remaining that subsequently forced him to try and cover a sizable gap in the closing laps.

“I spun my tires a little bit so I didn’t get a chance to race him at all, and then I had to fend off everybody else and get stretched out and try to run him down,” Busch said.

He came close to doing just that. But with his teammate running on all cylinders, “close” will not be good enough if he wants to win the Chase.

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.”