MRTI: Rinus VeeKay steps up to Pro Mazda with Juncos

Photo: CoForce Public Relations
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Rinus VeeKay will move up to the second rung of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder in 2018. The talented Dutch teenager will race with Juncos Racing in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, a year after coming second in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda to Oliver Askew.

VeeKay will run for the team that fielded the Pro Mazda champion this year, Victor Franzoni, and will be able to continue his battle with Askew for a second straight year in a second straight series.

Juncos’ release is below.

Juncos Racing announced today the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda championship runner-up, Rinus VeeKay will join the team for the 2018 Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires championship. VeeKay is the first driver to join the reigning 2017 Pro Mazda champion team.

Rinus VeeKay, 17, of Hoofddorp, Netherlands recently completed a very successful run in the USF2000 championship, picking up one pole, three wins and 12 podiums within 14 races in his rookie season. VeeKay’s most notable weekend during the 2017 year came at Road America where he captured his first pole and swept the weekend taking both wins. VeeKay finished the season second in the championship, only seven points behind the champion.

Photo: CoForce Public Relations

“I feel very honored that I am able to join such a successful top team,” said VeeKay. “They have a very professional attitude and the connection we had during the test was excellent from the very first moment. I really felt at home with the team. When I visited Juncos Racing I was thrilled with their state-of-the-art facility. Everything was very clean and organized, just like a Formula 1 operation.”

VeeKay made his first run with Juncos Racing back in October during a two-day test in the new PM-18 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Team Owner Ricardo Juncos is confident the young 17 year old is a strong figure for the 2018 Juncos Racing Pro Mazda driver line-up.

“I am thrilled to announce Rinus (VeeKay) is joining Juncos Racing for the 2018 Pro Mazda season,” said Juncos. “We first worked with Rinus back in October testing at Mid-Ohio and were very pleased with him all around. He was very fast on track, and had a great professional approach when working with the crew and engineers. Rinus showed he will be a top contender on track and he is going to be an incredible asset to our Pro Mazda line-up this coming year. I want to thank Rinus and his family for the opportunity to add him to our program and look forward to a great year as we go for another championship!”

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.”