Muscle Milk men lead first Petit Le Mans test sessions

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Back-to-back American Le Mans Series P1 champions Muscle Milk Pickett Racing paced both of today’s test sessions at Road Atlanta for next weekend’s Petit Le Mans, with a fast time of 1 minute, 10.510 seconds set in the morning run.

For the 10-hour race, Muscle Milk’s usual duo of Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf will be joined by Romain Dumas, who was the one that posted the quick time this afternoon in the No. 6 HPD ARX-03c.

Also testing today were Level 5 Motorsports’ two P2 entries, the No. 551 and 552 HPD ARX-03b machines. The No. 551, which will be driven by Scott Tucker and Ryan Briscoe at Petit, was second-fastest overall (1 minute, 13.689 seconds), with the No. 552 of Tucker, Marino Franchitti and Guy Cosmo logging the third-fastest lap (1 minute, 14.489 seconds).

Four GT machines took part in Sunday’s sessions, with the class led by the No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R that will be driven by Jonathan Bomarito, Kuno Wittmer and Tommy Kendall. The No. 93 topped out with a lap at 1 minute, 19.394 seconds.

The Prototype Challenge and GT Challenge categories only had one car apiece turn laps on Sunday. On the PC side, the No. 25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 of Sean Rayhall and Ozz Negri logged a fast lap of 1 minute, 16.072 seconds. In GTC, the No. 66 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Craig Stanton, Ben Keating and Damien Faulkner threw down a lap of 1 minute, 25.283 seconds; Keating and Faulkner enter Petit on a two-race win streak in GTC after wins at Circuit of the Americas and Virginia International Raceway.

Another pair of test sessions are slated for Monday at Road Atlanta, the first from 8 a.m. to Noon ET and the second from 1-5 p.m. ET.

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.”