Hey, Dale Jr., how about a BBQ tweet-up — or maybe a meat-and-greet?


You’ve heard of Twitter tweet-ups, right?

Given how he’s fallen in love with Twitter this year, maybe the next big thing will be a Dale Earnhardt Jr. barbecue tweet-up or maybe a BBQ meat-and-greet (pun intended).

According to ESPN.com’s John Oreovicz, Junior’s success this season – including winning the Daytona 500 for the second time in his career, as well as his bid to win this year’s Chase for the first time in his career – has somewhat stymied Earnhardt from one of his passions other than NASCAR racing:

Namely, BBQ cooking and eating.

That’s right, can you imagine Jr. with an apron on, slaving over a hot grill or smoker?

“We have been working like crazy this year, so damn much I ain’t got a chance to barbecue much,” Earnhardt told Oreovicz. “I thought the older I get the more leverage I would get and the less I would have to do, so it’s actually not working for me too much.

“But we are working really hard and I’m enjoying what we have going on. This is the part of the year where not only are we trying to get through the Chase, but all of our sponsors are coming to us for 2015 stuff trying to get all their commercials shot and all their photos taken and all the new uniforms and cars and all that stuff. If I get a Monday off, I’m lucky, looking at my calendar all the way to Homestead.”

And don’t forget running JR Motorsports.

But when he has some rare free time, not to mention a hearty appetite, don’t be surprised to see Junior go from race car driver to chef extraordinaire.

“It’s real similar to preparing an old late model [stock car] for a race,” he said. “It’s a lot of maintenance, and you are always kind of tinkering and playing and tweaking on the setup.

“You take it to the track and tweak on it a little bit here, tweak on it a little bit there, but you don’t get too far out of your comfort zone.”

While he’s a longtime barbecue eating aficionado, Earnhardt doesn’t consider himself a BBQ veteran yet when it comes to cooking.

“I’m going to get me a dehydrator,” he said. “But I’m not going to jump in like I did with the barbecue.

“I’ve got to read up and make sure I get the right stuff first. I’ve got like three smokers now because I went in too quick and bought and just kind of got in over my head not getting the right stuff.”

After Sunday’s race at Dover, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves on to arguably the capital of BBQ cooking and eating, namely, Kansas City, for next weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway.

Will Junior be on the hunt for some new sauce or cooking techniques? Most likely, especially since, ironically enough, the World Series of Barbecue will be in K.C. the same weekend.

And if Junior winds up in victory lane there? It’ll likely be Mountain Dew and BBQ for everybody.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing

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.”