Chase Elliott, Matt Crafton honored last night in Miami (PHOTOS)

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Last night in Miami, NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton were spotlighted in a joint celebration honoring the best drivers from each of the series.

The shindig was big enough to draw the attendance of business mogul Donald Trump, who dropped in to warm up the crowd and perhaps to see how they were enjoying his Trump National Doral Miami, site of the ceremony.

In addition to being honored as series champion, Elliott was named the NNS’ most popular driver during the ceremony. Also honored on the NNS side were Team Penske’s No. 22 team for taking the NNS owner’s title.

For the Trucks, Ryan Blaney picked up that series’ most popular driver award – a nice parting gift for him before he steps up to a mixed Sprint Cup (Wood Brothers) and XFINITY Series (Team Penske) schedule in 2015. Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 squad were feted as well for their Truck owner’s title.

Zack Albert of NASCAR.com has more from last night’s ceremony, but below are a selection of photos from the evening…

source: Getty Images
Brad Keselowski (left), NASCAR Nationwide Series champ Chase Elliott (second from right) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champ Matt Crafton (right) meet up with Donald Trump (second from left). Photo: Getty Images)
source: Getty Images
NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott addresses the crowd at last night’s championship bash. Photo: Getty Images.
source: Getty Images
Chase Elliott with some championship hardware for his mantle…And for his hand. Photo: Getty Images.
source: Getty Images
Matt Crafton became the Truck Series’ inaugural back-to-back champion last Friday at Homestead. Photo: Getty Images.
source: Getty Images
With his wife, Ashley, looking on, Crafton is congratulated by NASCAR President Mike Helton. Photo: Getty Images.
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Matt Crafton talks about his 2014 Truck Series title. Photo: Getty Images.

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.”