Mexico’s Toyota Series to stay under NASCAR banner through 2023

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NASCAR’s top division in Mexico, the Toyota Series, will continue to run under the NASCAR banner through the 2023 season after yesterday’s announcement of a 10-year agreement between the sanctioning body and Grupo CIE.

The series will once again begin its season here in the United States with the Toyota 120 on Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway.

“This extension symbolizes the strength of our relationship with NASCAR,” Toyota Series managing director Federico Alaman said in a statement.

“I’m very proud of how far the series has come since its inception and continuing to operate under the NASCAR banner for many years to come will reinforce the high level of competition and excitement the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series brings to every event.”

In his own thoughts, NASCAR executive vice president of racing operations Steve O’Donnell called the agreement a sign of “the international impact NASCAR is making.”

“The NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series continues to be a bridge that makes NASCAR more relevant to the Hispanic community in the U.S.,” he continued. “Along with the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series gives our sport a strong and unified presence across North America and Europe.”

Friday night’s race will be broadcast live en Espanol at 9 p.m. ET on mun2 (pronounced moon-dos) as a production of Deportes Telemundo.

The race will also be live-streamed at DeportesTelemundo.com. Telemundo and mun2 are NBCUniversal-owned networks.

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.”