Colton Herta set for Indy Lights in Steinbrenner/Andretti linkup

Photo: Carlin Media
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Talented 16-year-old teenager Colton Herta, son of Indianapolis 500-winning team owner Bryan Herta, will make his return Stateside in the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.

The junior version of “Hertamania” has starred in Europe the last couple years with Carlin, and this year won four races in the EuroFormula Open championship. He has raced in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires before, competing in all but one weekend of the 2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season. He missed the St. Petersburg weekend that year as he wasn’t 14 yet.

Now set to become one of the youngest drivers in Indy Lights history, Herta’s confirmation at Andretti Autosport is brought together following a linkup between the Andrettis and the Steinbrenner family.

The No. 98 Dallara IL-15 Mazda entry will be branded as a joint Andretti Autosport/Steinbrenner Racing effort, run by George Michael Steinbrenner IV, Hank Steinbrenner’s son and a grandson of longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Sean Jones, the youngest Steinbrenner’s stepdad, is a business partner of Bryan Herta’s, notably on the Bryan Herta Rallysport Red Bull Global Rallycross program.

“The Andrettis want to be partners with Steinbrenners; the Steinbrenners want to be partners with the Andrettis,” Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Times, in a piece which was first to announce the news this morning. “It’s a natural match.”

Herta completes Andretti’s expansion to a four-car lineup for 2017, along with previously announced teammates Dalton Kellett (No. 28), Nico Jamin (No. 27) and Ryan Norman (No. 48).

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.”