Fernando Alonso wins 4 straight; Button captures Legends Trophy title

Legends Trophy

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso continued his successful run in the Legends Trophy sim league, winning both races Saturday at the virtual Silverstone circuit.

Jenson Button, Alonso’s former F1 teammate at McLaren and a 2009 champion, won the season championship with a runner-up and 12th-place finish. He donated the $25,000 prize to “No Kid Hungry” campaign run by the Share Our Strength nonprofit.

“It’s been a lot of fun over the past month. Also, driving two cars, both the Brabham and then the Indy
car (last week), that was pretty awesome,” said Button, who had a win and four runner-up finishes to claim the title. “At Silverstone, I did struggle to get the car working a bit with the long corners and the understeer in the car.”

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After sweeping the May 23 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Alonso turned the feat again at Silverstone. He missed the first two weeks of the season and didn’t finish either race at virtual Circuit Vandvoort in Round 3, but he has been a force since.

“When I made my debut three weeks ago, I had also just had my sim rig installed,” Alonso said. “It was a
bit of a mess, and the car is tricky and difficult to drive for the first time. Obviously, Silverstone I know
very well the track and that was an advantage for this weekend.”

Alonso won from the pole by 1.4 seconds over Button in the first race, leading all eight laps. He started 19th in the second race but moved into the top five on the first lap and then overtook four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti on Lap 6 of 8. Franchitti took second, and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya was third.

The event ended the second season of The Race All-Star Series powered by ROKiT Phones that was created in March. The third season will begin June 6 with races on June 20 and June 27.

Jenson Button wrapped up the championship with finishes of second and 12th at the virtual Silverstone circuit (Legends Trophy).

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing

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.”