Carl Edwards’ run at Texas ends in engine failure

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This was not the way Carl Edwards wanted to start closing out his Chase.

After starting on pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Edwards was quickly swallowed up by eventual winner Jimmie Johnson. But the Roush Fenway Racing driver was still putting in a decent afternoon until Lap 187, when the engine let go on his No. 99 Ford.

The 37th-place finish had to be tough for him to swallow after he showed confidence in his chances this weekend. Upon claiming the pole on Friday, he mentioned that he couldn’t have chosen a better trio of tracks to end 2013 on than Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami, which host the final three post-season events.

But Edwards now finds himself out of the Top 10 in the Sprint Cup championship after the blown motor on Sunday (something he wryly noted that his sponsor, insurance company Aflac, couldn’t cover).

Being in the Top 10 is particularly important to Edwards, as only the Top 10 will be honored on stage during the Dec. 6 Sprint Cup awards ceremony in Las Vegas; he’s now 11th in the standings, 20 points behind 10th-place Kurt Busch, with two races left.

“I think a valve spring broke and now they can’t get the spark plug out or anything, so it beat up that cylinder pretty bad,” he said on Sunday. “We don’t usually have a lot of engine trouble. Doug Yates and the guys at Roush Yates Engines build great engines.

“We had such a great weekend going. The car – during the middle part of the race, we were struggling but we were starting to get it worked out…We will just go on to Phoenix and hopefully get another win there and go to Homestead. We gotta get in the Top-10 so we can go to Vegas one way or another.”

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.”