Pigot crashes as Rahal leads Mid-Ohio warm-up

Photo: IndyCar
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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal topped the morning warm-up for this afternoon’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (3:00 p.m. ET, CNBC). His best lap of 1:05.0239 was nearly three tenths of a second up on Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, who came in second with a best lap of 1:05.3007.

Rahal won this race in 2015 and is looking to get caught up in the championship. He sits 64 points back of points leader Scott Dixon heading into the race. On essentially a “win-or-bust” strategy, Rahal really has nothing to lose today.

Graham Rahal topped the morning warm-up at Mid-Ohio. Photo: IndyCar

Three Andretti Autosport cars completed the top five, with Marco Andretti third, Takuma Sato fourth, and Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth, making it four Hondas in the top five in the final session before the race begins.

The session saw one incident, but it was a big one as Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot crashed hard exiting the final corner. Pigot’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet quickly broke loose, but the front wheels gripped too much when he tried to correct it and the car shot straight off course and nosed into the concrete wall just after the tire barrier ended.

Pigot was able to exit the car and walk away under his own power, confirming afterward that he was okay, but the ECR team will have to prepare the backup car ahead of this afternoon’s race, as the tub of Pigot’s chassis was damaged in the impact.

Times are below. Note: the session was extended by five minutes to make up for time lost due to Pigot’s incident. Coverage of the Honda Indy 200 begins at 3:00 p.m. on CNBC.

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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.”