Kansas has been ‘close, but no cigar’ for Carl Edwards

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Clint Bowyer may be the locals’ favorite this weekend at Kansas Speedway, but Carl Edwards should have more than a few fans in his corner as well.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver is a native of Columbia, Missouri, which is just two hours down Interstate 70 from the 1.5-mile Kansas oval.

Obviously, he would love to win for the first time at what he regards as his home track. And thanks to his earlier victory this season at Bristol Motor Speedway – which effectively put him into the Chase – Edwards is ready to give it everything he has.

“Talladega did not go as we wanted but now we go to Kansas and for me, there is no bigger race during the season than Kansas,” he said going into the weekend. “So many people that I know come to that race, people who have helped me in my career, and it would be really special to win.

“I know that the fans around central Missouri are excited, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about going to the race. [Crew chief] Jimmy [Fennig] and all of the guys have been working really hard, they have a Aflac Ford Fusion and a set of ideas that we can use to win.

“We have nothing to lose right now. We have already got a win and we are doing OK in the points so this race will be one where we truly just go for it.”

Edwards has had some near-misses in his career at Kansas, finishing runner-up in 2008. But by earning five Top-5 finishes (including a fifth last fall in the Chase) and nine Top-10s across 13 Kansas starts, he’s got an average finish of 10.8 at Kansas.

That’s good for fifth-best among all active drivers, so it’s definitely not like Edwards has been snakebit there like Kyle Busch.

Edwards was 16th-quickest in today’s first Sprint Cup practice. Final practice just got underway a few minutes ago at Kansas.

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.”