Indy 500 qualifying day one game plan, outline, notes

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INDIANAPOLIS – Rain is expected to hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway later today, which would push qualifying back during the day schedule or into tomorrow.

Practice is underway for two groups this morning, with a guaranteed 20 minutes of run time confirmed for each group. Because the session was on a slight hold to start, that pushed the scheduled times back a bit.

The groups are separated as follows:

  • Group 1 (8-8:30 a.m.): 63-Pippa Mann, 22-Juan Pablo Montoya, 10-Tony Kanaan, 12-Will Power, 77-Jay Howard, 19-Ed Jones, 3-Helio Castroneves, 24-Sage Karam, 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 9-Scott Dixon, 1-Simon Pagenaud, 40-Zach Veach, 5-James Hinchcliffe, 4-Conor Daly, 15-Graham Rahal, 29-Fernando Alonso, 11-Spencer Pigot
  • Group 2 (8:30-9 a.m.): 8-Max Chilton, 83-Charlie Kimball, 18-Sebastien Bourdais, 98-Alexander Rossi, 27-Marco Andretti, 26-Takuma Sato, 2-Josef Newgarden, 17-Sebastian Saavedra, 50-Jack Harvey, 16-Oriol Servia, 44-Buddy Lazier, 20-Ed Carpenter, 14-Carlos Munoz, 7-Mikhail Aleshin, 21-JR Hildebrand, 88-Gabby Chaves

All cars are then eligible to participate from 9 to 9:30 a.m. After that, it goes into qualifying, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5:50 p.m.

In layman’s terms, the easiest way to explain qualifying is that from the qualifying draw, it goes in order from there by primary cars (very few teams will qualify a backup car) and then it will shift into whether teams go into a line to make a second attempt. So although Sebastian Saavedra’s No. 17T AFS Chevrolet for Juncos Racing has the first draw, second-drawn Pippa Mann in the No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda would be the first primary car to make an attempt.

The Fast Nine is meant to be set on the first day of qualifying. Speeds from today don’t count for anything, except who makes the Fast Nine and who will slot in in spots 10-33 thereafter, as speeds are wiped out.

However, if rain arrives as expected, INDYCAR will provide updates on the qualifying status as they become available.

The qualifying draw is linked below, followed by the infographic that explains how qualifying works.

In other notes from around the paddock yesterday and this morning:

  • Per Trackside Online, Pippa Mann is the first woman to turn a lap at more than 230 mph around IMS. Mann, who’s already set a record as the first and thus far only woman to have a pole here (2010 in Indy Lights, then driving for Sam Schmidt), seeks to make her sixth start in the Indianapolis 500, fifth consecutive with Dale Coyne Racing in the team’s No. 63 Honda. She also turned the cockpit of her car pink yesterday as part of her Get Involved campaign. Mann noted the lap of 230.103 mph was tow-assisted but it was a good step forward for her heading into qualifying.
  • A.J. Foyt Racing team director George Klotz confirmed to NBC Sports that Zach Veach’s No. 40 Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim Chevrolet will not be ready to run until Sunday morning. Repairs were coming together on the car after Veach’s accident in the final 20 minutes of Friday’s running, but with weather coming today and a tight window to shake the rebuilt car down this morning, the decision was taken to run Sunday next at the earliest.
  • As for Juncos Racing, team officials and the crew members worked through the night to repair the No. 11 Oceanfront Recovery Chevrolet for Spencer Pigot after his accident. Although Pigot also wasn’t out this morning, it proved a tireless bit of work and meshing by the Ricardo Juncos-led operation to get the car close to being assembled and back ready to go, ahead of the team’s Verizon IndyCar Series race debut.
  • In a weird note, Pigot and Veach were teammates for Ed Carpenter Racing at Barber three races ago, but now had incidents for other non-Carpenter teams on the same day. With Josef Newgarden having an incident on Thursday for Team Penske, the ex-ECR incident roster is long at the moment, while ECR has fortunately – to this point – avoided a repeat of its heavy crash run in practice in 2015.
  • On Friday, the 51st annual Louis Schwitzer Award has been presented to engineers Don Burgoon, James Borner, Darin Cate, Paul Rankin and Mark Wagner from PFC Brakes for the PFC carbon disc brake system. While PFC’s brakes were a story line at the season-opening St. Petersburg race weekend, the overall consistency and improved performance has shown through in the races since – a credit to the work done by the team led by PFC Director of Motorsports Darrick Dong, who was in attendance on Friday as well.

More to follow later today.

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.”