IndyCar: Pato O’Ward captures first career pole position at Road America

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Pato O’Ward won the IndyCar Road America pole position Sunday morning and will start first for the first time in his NTT IndyCar Series career.

The Arrow McLaren SP Motorsports driver set the fast time toward the end of the Group 2 session and will start alongside Colton Herta, his former teammate in Indy Lights. O’Ward’s previous best start was fifth in his 2018 series debut at Sonoma.

O’Ward’s lap of 1 minute, 44.8971 seconds knocked off rookie Alex Palou, whose excellent weekend at Road America continued even without an IndyCar Road America pole. The Dale Coyne Racing rookie will start a career-best third in his fourth IndyCar race after finishing a career-best third Saturday in the REV Group.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the grid in Race 2 at Road America

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Drivers speed in Sunday’s session at Road America

RACE INFO: How to watch Sunday’s race at Road America

This will be the 12th IndyCar start for O’Ward, who is the third-youngest IndyCar pole winner at 21 years, 2 months, 6 days. With an average age of 20.7 years, the Monterrey, Mexico, native and Herta will form the youngest front row in series history.

Ryan Hunter-Reay will start fourth alongisde Palou. Graham Rahal qualified fifth.

Scott Dixon, who is seeking his fourth consecutive victory to open the 2020 season, qualified sixth after winning from the ninth starting position Saturday in the first REV Group GP at Road America.

Other notables: Felix Rosenqvist seventh; Will Power eighth; Alexander Rossi 10th; Josef Newgarden 14th; Marco Andretti 19th; Simon Pagenaud 22nd.

Santino Ferrucci will start 11th after spinning without making contact late in the Group 2 session. Returning from a Saturday crash that left him with an injured right shoulder, Conor Daly qualified 20th.

The race broadcast will begin at noon ET on NBC. Green flag is at 12:42 p.m.

GROUP 1: Click here for results

GROUP 2: Click here for results

 

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.”