INDYCAR confirms new closure panels to super speedway aero kits (UPDATED)

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INDYCAR has now confirmed there will be a new “closure panels” to the rear wheel guards ahead of this weekend’s Firestone 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway.

A Twitter post from USA Today Sports’ Brant James said to expect a new aero part, described as a new “contraption,” coming to the cars this weekend.

That has now been confirmed. Here is the release from INDYCAR:

INDYCAR announced today it has implemented the use of closure panels to the rear wheel guards of both Honda and Chevrolet superspeedway aero kits beginning this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The panels were developed by Honda and Chevrolet, respectively, and will also be utilized at Pocono Raceway and Auto Club Speedway during the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“This has been a collaborative effort with both manufacturers and they have been working on these since the Indianapolis 500 qualifications,” said Will Phillips, IndyCar Vice President of Technology. “These closure panels serve as a blocker so air cannot flow through the rear wheel guards. This will ultimately raise the point at which cars would experience lift when traveling backwards.”

INDYCAR also confirmed that the rear wing angle for all entries this weekend must be set between (-6) and (-10.5) degrees, which will still result in an increase in overall downforce compared to the 2014 event at TMS.

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage has release a statement as well.

“I think they have found an effective way to reduce and eliminate the lift that they had problems with in practice at Indianapolis,” Gossage said. “This is a logical approach to attacking this problem and hopefully we won’t see that here at Texas at all. I think this is a step in the right direction.”

Gossage also likes the the decision to adjust the rear-wing pitch.

“That will probably cause the cars to slow down just a little and I think that is a good move as well,” Gossage said. “That will also make the cars more drivable. We are pleased IndyCar is working on this. We don’t know what these changes will bring until the green flag drops, but IndyCar is trying and we appreciate that.”

INDYCAR president of competition and operations Derrick Walker said during the qualifying change press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that IndyCar, in partnership with Chevrolet and Honda, would seek to make changes before the race at Texas.

“Well, we’ve already started and it will go as long as it takes to get the answers we need,” Walker said on May 17. “Both our manufacturers are working very closely with us. That’s one of the reassuring things of this whole exercise is how they’ve rallied around and put all their resources behind looking at how to understand it more, so I would see that continuing.”

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.”