IndyCar: Luca Filippi gets two-weekend deal with RLL at Houston, Toronto

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One of the impact part-timers in 2013 will be back in part for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series, as Luca Filippi has been confirmed in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s second car at the Houston and Toronto doubleheader weekends.

That will make four starts for Filippi this year to go along with the four he made in 2013 with Bryan Herta Autosport, at Mid-Ohio, Baltimore and the two Houston races. At Houston Race 1 last year, he started eighth and finished 10th.

Filippi was supposed to drive with RLL in 2012 but could not put a deal together at that stage. He was also a front-runner for BHA’s seat this year, before that went to Jack Hawksworth.

“I’m extremely excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing because there is a lot of respect between myself and Bobby,” said Filippi, 28, about team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “We have been trying to find a way to work together for a long time and to finally have it happen is a great feeling. I really love the IndyCar Series. Since I first drove the car and expe­ri­enced the atmos­phere of the series, I have loved every­thing about it and can’t wait to get back in a car.”

Added team co-owner Rahal, “We tried to get Luca into the team a few years back and even went so far as to build a seat but we were unable to find the funding. In the mean­time he went to Bryan Herta’s team and showed what he can do in the few races he ran for them. He has been successful in GP2 in Europe, amongst other series, for a number of years so I don’t think there is any ques­tion that he has the pace to run towards the front. On top of that, he is a real gentleman and we are looking forward to working with him and seeing how he can help the team progress.”

The RLL second car was driven by Oriol Servia for four races, at Long Beach, Barber and the two Indianapolis races.

Filippi’s RLL entry will feature asso­ciate spon­sor­ship for the program will come from IMPCO and Fight SMA.

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.”