Corvette duo of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor win again at Charlotte Roval

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Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor scored their fifth GTLM victory with the No. 3 Corvette C8.R in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this season, winning Saturday’s Motul 100% Synthetic Grand Prix at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

The Corvette Racing duo, which has won two consecutive and four of the past five while building a comfortable points lead with three races remaining, started on the pole position in the 100-minute race.

With a daylong rain leaving standing water in many sections (and affecting the NASCAR race earlier in the day), Taylor stayed out of trouble before turning the wheel over to his teammate.

“It wasn’t easy,” Taylor told NBCSN reporter Parker Kligerman. “For us leading the championship, it’s all about minimal risk. You weren’t going to win the race in the first 20-30 minutes, it was just all about survival and handing the car over to Antonio and waiting for it to dry out, and thankfully it did.

The track conditions came to us in our Corvette, and Antonio never put a wheel wrong and brought home another win, so an ongoing amazing year for the new C8.R.”

Garcia held off the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE of John Edwards and the No. 25 BMW of Conor de Phillippi on a restart with just more than 5 minutes remaining. The caution had flown after the No. 4 Corvette of Tommy Milner crashed after apparently blowing a tire with just more than 12 minutes left.

Garcia was able to snatch the lead from Edwards in a spirited battle through the infield section of the 17-turn, 2.28-mile layout that leads into Turn 1 of the 1.5-mile speedway.

They were really fast, they were aggressive,” Garcia said. “The C8.R was running perfectly. That was my chance. He was struggling with tires, but so was I, and I stayed calm and knew it was my turn. He did a little mistake. I went for it, and head down, another victory for Corvette.”

It’s the sixth victory this season for Corvette Racing, which switched to an overhauled midengine design this season.

“First year with a brand new car, no one would have expected this,” Taylor said.

In the GTD class, Bill Auberlen won for the second time this season (and 62nd of his career) with co-driver Robby Foley in Turner Motorsport’s No. 96 BMW M6 GT3.

“When (the track) started to dry, this thing is on fire,” Auberlen, who became the all-time winner in IMSA with an Aug. 22 victory at Virginia International Raceway, told NBCSN reporter Dillon Welch. “This M6 does what it does, and it knows how to get to victory lane.”

Patrick Long finished second in GTD with the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3R of Wright Motorsports.

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.”