Kyle Larson steady at New Hampshire in runner-up effort

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On Friday, Kyle Larson said he wouldn’t be disappointed if he did not have his inaugural Sprint Cup win before this season ended.

But if he continues to run the way he’s been running and still isn’t able to seal the deal in the final eight races of 2014, one wonders if he’ll get at least a little frustrated.

The rookie star once again dueled up front with the Chasers today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and eventually dusted Kevin Harvick in the green-white-checkered restart to pick up a second-place finish.

That equals his second back in the spring at Auto Club Speedway as his best Cup result so far.

“Didn’t think we’d be a second-place finisher,” Larson said afterwards. “We weren’t a second-place car by any means – Top-5 car, I thought. [It was] crazy how many cautions there were at the end. [I] finally figured it out the last time, was able to get to second, hold off Kevin for two laps to get second.

“[I’m] happy about the finish. Hopefully, someday soon, I’ll get one spot better. Like I said last week, all these [races] coming close, finishing second or third, is going to make that win feel really special.”

Larson was unable to reel in today’s winner, Joey Logano, as the Penske pilot was simply too strong during the late restarts on fresher tires.

But considering today’s finish and his third-place run last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, it’s clear that Larson and the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team want some of the spotlight that’s being shined on those in the running for the championship.

When asked if his finishes in the first two Chase races had him thinking “what if,” Larson admitted that it was “a little bit disappointing” to not be involved in the post-season but was still glad that he and teammate Jamie McMurray (who finished fourth today) have been running well in this final stretch.

“I know other teams that are in the Chase notice that and I’m sure they’re worried about us for next season already,” Larson asserted.

Larson began to make a serious move toward the lead pack in the disjointed second half of the race after early trouble with handling on his car.

“The first couple runs, I was really loose on exit of the corner, tight in the center, loose on my entry,” he said. “After that, all three parts of the corner were fixed.

“Once we got the car driving good, we just had to miss those wrecks. We gambled on fuel a little bit, but all the cautions worked out, so it wasn’t really a gamble very much.”

Larson said he didn’t exactly know what adjustments were made to his car, but it’s clear that they worked. With 75 to go, he was running in the Top 5 and remained in that bracket for the rest of the race.

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.”