Jimmy Small appointed president of Iowa Speedway

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Two weeks after purchasing the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway, NASCAR has announced that 28-year-old Jimmy Small will take over as the track’s new president.

Small has worked with NASCAR for the past six seasons, and most recently served as senior manager for team marketing services within the sanctioning body’s Industry Services division. He worked as a business and marketing liaison for teams and drivers across all three NASCAR national series.

He also has accrued some accolades for his work in the sport, having been named one of the top sports executives under the age of 30 by Sports Pro Magazine in 2012.

“Jimmy’s tireless dedication, energy and experience make him the ideal candidate for leading Iowa Speedway into this new era,” NASCAR vice president of strategic development Eric Nyquist said in a statement.

“He has a strong background in identifying and creating fan experience improvements and defining best practices designed to help strengthen sponsor relations and ticket sales. In addition, he will have a great support structure at the Speedway and NASCAR.”

In an interview with The Des Moines Register, Small ruled out a potential Sprint Cup race for Iowa Speedway in 2015. This coming season, the track will host two Nationwide Series weekends and a combined weekend featuring the Camping World Truck Series and the IndyCar Series.

However, he did tell the Register’s Bryce Miller that he hoped to re-start discussions with the Iowa state legislature in regards to funding that could provide future upgrades.

“We hope we bring a lot of value to Newton, to Des Moines, to the state of Iowa,” Small said. “We want to continue to be an economic force in this area and continue to drive development. We want the speedway to be an entertainment hub year-round.”

This past summer, the track hoped to attain an $8 million grant from the state but it did not get approved by the state House after the Senate pushed it through.

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.”