Josef Newgarden wins Formula F race at Barber in last Indy off weekend of season

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Last week at Mid-Ohio, Josef Newgarden was on pace to secure what would have been a popular first career win in the Verizon IndyCar Series, but it went to hell in a hand basket after a botched final pit stop. Newgarden was gracious, professional and mature beyond his years post-race, despite the disappointment.

But Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, where earlier this year he and Joe Namath were involved in a pre-race cook off and Newgarden started in the top five and finished eighth, Newgarden bagged his first win of the season – albeit in the SCCA Summer Speedfest Formula F 45th Anniversary feature race, driving an HPD/Honda Performance Development Piper DF-5/Honda.

Oh, and for good measure, he started last after arriving late Saturday due to his IndyCar testing commitments.

Newgarden made it from 11th to the lead within nine laps, regained the lead on Lap 11 and held it for the final 10 circuits.

“This is the most fun I’ve had this racing season,” Newgarden said, via the official SCCA website. “You just can’t race any better than this. You can drive the car sideways. You can go three-wide into the brake zones. You can race the guys for two- to three-corners at a time. It’s just the most fun you can have in an open-wheel car.”

It caps off a week where Newgarden nearly won in Mid-Ohio, banged some drums and attempted to one-bite a grilled cheese sandwich at the Indiana State Fair, tested his No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda at Sonoma, and then flew back to Birmingham, Ala. after being in three other states.

Now he’ll head to Milwaukee this weekend for the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers and see if he can keep the momentum going.

Milwaukee kicks off a stretch of three races in as many weekends, with Sonoma and Fontana to follow.

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.”