IndyCar: Andretti adds fifth car for GP of Indy for Franck Montagny

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File this one into the “Lucas Luhr to Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing out-of-left-field” style of Verizon IndyCar Series announcements.

Andretti Autosport, which is ramping up for a fairly big month of May anyway with a fifth car for Kurt Busch to join its usual four in the Indianapolis 500, and also has entries in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire, Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tire and Red Bull Global Rallycross, will run the fifth IndyCar at the May 8-10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis for Frenchman Franck Montagny.

Commercial partners were not announced for the No. 26 Honda, but this does mark a reunion between Montagny, Andretti Autosport and HPD.

Montagny has made two career North American open-wheel starts. He finished second in the April 2008 Champ Car series finale at Long Beach, and made a one-off start for Andretti, in an AFS partnership, in the team’s fifth car at the 2009 race in Sonoma.

He’s also worked with the team in sports cars, when Andretti ran the Acura ARX-01b in 2008. Montagny has 12 career starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, most recently in 2012 with OAK Racing, after the Peugeot factory team withdrew prior to the start of that season.

“I am very happy to be back with Andretti Autosport; I have already felt ‘at home’ during my visits,” Montagny commented. “Participating in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in the temple of motorsport that is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a true moment of happiness.”

The addition brings the GP of Indy car count up to 25, with second cars at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Oriol Servia) and A.J. Foyt Racing (Martin Plowman) entered to join the full-season 22.

Andretti’s fifth car finished second in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 with rookie Carlos Munoz (pictured right).

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.”