IndyCar Driver Review: James Hinchcliffe

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MotorSportsTalk’s 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series driver-by-driver review comes next to James Hinchcliffe, who seemingly had a cartoon anvil chase him around throughout the year.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW

James Hinchcliffe

  • Team: Andretti Autosport
  • 2013: 8th Place, 3 Wins, Best Start 2nd, 4 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 264 Laps Led, 9.1 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
  • 2014: 12th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 2nd, 1 Podium, 4 Top-5, 8 Top-10, 75 Laps Led, 8.2 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

James Hinchcliffe’s comedic streak was probably the only thing that kept his sanity in check during an utterly frustrating 2014 campaign, that produced only one podium finish and a drop from eighth each of the last two years to 12th in points.

From getting speared by his teammate in Long Beach, to the debris striking his helmet and giving him a concussion at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, to his contact with Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell while running top-five in the ‘500, and then to a wildly inconsistent final 13 races where he never posted more than two consecutive top-10 finishes, Hinchcliffe was about as predictable as the month of May weather in Indianapolis. Which is to say completely unpredictable.

At Toronto he had one of the lines of the year when he downplayed his weekend chances and said, “I just assume it will go poorly.” While his results were down, there was relatively decent chemistry between he and new engineer Nathan O’Rourke, his qualifying remained solid (five second place starts and a year-on-year growth from 9.1 to 8.2 average grid spot) and his temperament stayed calm even as the breaks didn’t go his way, at all. Hinch remains one of IndyCar’s most popular and talented drivers, who will try to put it all together once more in 2015.

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.”