Double whammy: Ed Carpenter takes blame for team woes

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FORT WORTH – In the span of three laps, the hopes of Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing in the Firestone 600 were gone. Although there wasn’t that much hope to begin with for the driver – or the fused team – that won this race last year.

After starting 15th, team co-owner and driver Ed Carpenter was the first to have his night end when his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet lost an engine on Lap 147.

Two laps later, his teammate, Josef Newgarden lost the drive in his No. 67 Hartman Oil Chevrolet. Carpenter and Newgarden finished 22nd and 21st, respectively.

Two cars gone in three laps.

“We were just riding around, finishing the race when something let go in the car. We were in no way, shape, or form in contention,” Carpenter said.

“It’s disappointing. We’ve been strong here for the past couple of years. We have good road course cars right now, we just haven’t been able to get this package sorted out for the ovals.”

For Carpenter, who only runs oval races, it was his second DNF of the season after he crashed out of the Indianapolis 500.

For Newgarden, who has one win in 2015, it was his second DNF in a row and his third finish of 20th or worse in five races.

“We’re not sure what happened yet, we just lost drive,” Newgarden said. “It was a tough weekend, we struggled all weekend with the car’s handling. We did everything we could to make it better. We did a good job keeping it in the race, we just didn’t have enough for everyone. Capping it off with losing drive was a hard way to end the weekend.”

The result came after both cars qualified 14th and 15th, and Carpenter recorded the 22nd fastest speed in both practice sessions.

“We need to get this figured out. We haven’t had cars this bad in a long time,” Carpenter told NBCSN. “I’m part of the problem, because I’m not helping us get a solution. Really disappointing. Feel terrible for Fuzzy’s and the Hartman’s and everyone that helps us do this. We’re underachieving big time.”

Newgarden, who is CFH Racing’s only full-season driver, is now ninth in the points standings after entering the weekend eighth. Luca Filippi will return to the No. 20 car in Toronto next week.

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.”