Pre-Chris Griffis Test Mazda Road to Indy news and notes

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A few minor bits and pieces of news around the IndyCar Series and the Mazda Road to Indy have popped up over the last couple weeks. Here’s a quick roundup, since the last one we did a couple of weeks ago:

  • Besides Tony Kanaan having his first running in Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar machinery, Francesco Dracone completed his two-day test with Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring as well. Dracone had an accident on the first day but was able to return on the second. The Italian ran two less than distinguished races for Conquest Racing in 2010.
  • Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing has announced it will expand its operations into Pro Mazda, beyond its USF2000 team. The team has revealed two of its 2014 drivers. Neil Alberico will move up from Cape’s USF2000 team to Pro Mazda, while Jake Eidson will be set for a full USF2000 season for Cape after running in F1600 in 2013. Both are Team USA Scholarship recipients; Alberico won in 2011 and Eidson, along with Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout winner Joey Bickers, are 2013 winners.
  • Pabst Racing Services has signed 18-year-old Colorado driver Will Owen for its USF2000 team. Belardi Auto Racing signed French driver Nico Jamin as its fourth USF2000 driver for 2014.
  • CoForce International, LLC, founded by Pro Mazda veteran driver Anders Krohn, announced a partnership with the Team Pelfrey organization. Krohn, CoForce CEO, will serve as the team’s director of performance and driver development and business partner Jonathan Baker, CoForce CFO, will serve as director of business development for Team Pelfrey and the new Pelfrey Performance initiative.
  • Juncos Racing will have Spencer Pigot, Alfonso Celis, Jose Gutierrez and Kyle Kaiser testing the team’s Pro Mazda cars at next week’s Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test at Barber Motorsports Park. All bar Celis raced in the 2013 Pro Mazda season, with Gutierrez making a handful of starts for Juncos.
  • Englishman Harrison Scott will also be at next week’s Griffis test, with a team to be announced. A full entry list for the Dec. 9-10 test should be made available soon.

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.”