DragonSpeed adds LMP2 entry for Rinus Veekay, Ben Hanley for Rolex 24

DragonSpeed LMP2 Veekay Rolex
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DragonSpeed will expand its presence in the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech series by fielding a car in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona for Rinus Veekay, Ben Hanley, Rob Hodes and Garett Grist. The No. 81 will also race in the the three other events of the Michelin Endurance Cup: the 12 Hours of Sebring, Six Hours of the Glen and Petit Le Mans.

Hanley was last year’s Rolex 24 winner in the LMP2 class.

Veekay will make an appearance after earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2020’s IndyCar series, while Hodes and  Grist graduate from the European Le Mans Series where they race in the LMP3 class.

Hodes stood on the podium in his LMP2 debut in the Petit Le Mans in 2020.

“I am super thrilled to be entering my first 24-hour race with an outstanding team like DragonSpeed,” Hodes said in a release. “My teammates couldn’t be better. It’s an honor to go racing with drivers of the caliber of my LMP3 partner Garett, Rinus, and Ben. The Rolex will be a great challenge, but I like our chances.”

DRAGONSPEED HAS MULTIPLE SHOTS AT CLASS WIN

Veekay’s greatest success in his freshman season in IndyCar came on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in the the first race of the Harvest Grand Prix. He started on the pole and finished third.

“For my first Rolex 24 I want to compete for the win in our class and I know I can do that with DragonSpeed and this exciting driver lineup,” Veekay said. “I can’t wait for my IMSA debut, and the chance to fight for the top step of the LMP2 podium.”

In a tweet, Veekay added, “Christmas came early this year!”

 

In addition to winning the LMP2 class in 2020 Rolex 24 with an overall finish of ninth, Hanley scored another class victory at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. He was eight overall in that race.

“It’s great to be heading back to Daytona in the 81 car to go for another win in LMP2 with such an impressive group of new teammates along with our incredibly dedicated and loyal crew,” Hanley said. “We’re all hoping for the pandemic to ease off a bit in time for the Roar Before the 24 test starting on January 22nd. I’m looking forward to the new format for the Roar as well as my fourth Rolex 24.”

RELIVE VEEKAY’S FIRST POLE WIN

DragonSpeed has won the LMP2 class in the Rolex 24 Hours for the past two years. In addition to Hanley’s win in 2020, they scored the class victory in 2019 and a sixth-place overall finish. That team was anchored by Roberto Gonzalez and Pasto Maldonado.

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.”