Massive wreck at start eliminates three Andretti cars from Gateway

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A six-car crash on the way to the green flag eliminated three Andretti Autosport drivers before the start of Saturday’s NTT IndyCar Series race at World Wide Technolgy Raceway at Gateway.

Andretti teammates Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti and Zach Veach were knocked out by damage from the crash, which seemed to start when several cars slowed off Turn 4 because of a late green flag as pole-sitter Will Power led the field.

Alex Palou pulled out of line and was followed by Simon Pagenaud, who then was hit by Oliver Askew. That started a chain reaction that collected the Andretti cars.

IndyCar officials penalized Palou and Askew for avoidable contact and sent both to the back of the field on the restart.

Veach said he tried to move to the middle lane when the inside lane slowed.

“That’s when I saw Pagenaud sideways,” Veach said on NBCSN. “From that point, everyone jammed on the brakes. We tried to stop the best we could, but it seemed everyone was in the same position. The window closed so quickly, some of us were left without an option.”

The crash, which also took Ed Carpenter out of contention, caused the first 14 of the race’s 200 laps to be run under a yellow flag.

Pagenaud’s team changed a front wing, but he retired after completing 66 laps because he was unable to make minimum speed.

“Think we had a good car today, never even got a chance to really test it for tomorrow,” Pagenaud told NBCSN pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s a little too much excitement at the start of the race from the back of us. Real shame.

“The front slowed, down, and I don’t know if it was the accordion effect. It is what it is. It’s very unfortunate. Need them to be willing to just be a bit more patient.”

The incident continued a miserable season for Rossi, who had crashed Sunday after leading in the Indy 500.

After the Gateway wreck, Rossi climbed from his No. 27 Dallara-Honda, hopped the pit wall and walked directly to teammate Colton Herta’s pit apparently for an explanation of what happened.

“I was trying to go straight,” Rossi told NBCSN pit reporter James Hinchcliffe after watching the replay. “I’m not laying blame. It’s very reminiscent of a Michgan iRacing start at the beginning of the year.”

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.”