CheckIt4Andretti signs partnership to provide free colonoscopies for low-income patients

John Andretti colonoscopies
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

CheckIt4Andretti Charitable Foundation, which was formed after the death of racing star John Andretti from colorectal cancer, announced a new partnership Tuesday to offer free colonoscopies for low-income patients.

Northeast Digestive Health Center in Concord, North Carolina, will provide the free colon cancer screenings at a charitable clinic that serves those without insurance or limited access to health care.

“The potential to save lives through early detection of colorectal cancer is enormous,” Nancy Andretti, founder and president of CheckIt4Andretti, said in a release. “We are grateful to Northeast Digestive Health Center for helping CheckIt4Andretti fulfill our mission of making these screenings available to those who need but can’t afford them.”

CheckIt4Andretti worked with the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics to identify high-risk, low-income patients (served by a member clinic in Salisbury, North Carolina) who will be receiving the screening procedure.

The foundation is working to secure additional partnerships in North Carolina and Indiana, where Jarett Andretti, Nancy and John’s son, lives and where the family’s racing heritage has deep roots.

Jarett Andretti drives in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series for Indianapolis-based Andretti Autosport, and his LMP3 team will race this weekend in the Twelve Hours of Sebring after winning the pole position for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

John Andretti, who would have turned 59 on March 12, was known as among the most versatile winners in auto racing with victories in several major-league series including NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA and NHRA. He died Jan. 30, 2020 after a lengthy battle with cancer that was discovered in his first colonoscopy at 52.

Last year, the American Cancer Society lowered the recommended age from 50 to 45 for beginning regular screenings of colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer deaths (more than 50,000 annually) in the United States. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

“I hope my father will be remembered for using his own diagnosis to shine a spotlight on the importance of early detection,” Jarett Andretti said. “And I hope other providers will follow the compassionate lead of Dr. Patel and his team at Northeast Digestive Health Center to help us expand access to potentially life-saving cancer checks.”

CheckIt4Andretti was established to promote the importance of early detection and provide free screenings for high-risk, low-income people who are uninsured, underinsured or too young to qualify for insurance coverage. The partnership with Northeast Digestive Health Center was formed through Nancy Andretti’s connection to Dr. Vinay Patel, her own gastroenterologist at the center.

“CheckIt4Andretti has found the perfect focus for its mission because low-income individuals are much less likely to have access to diagnostic screenings,” Patel said.  “Northeast Digestive Health Center thanks Nancy Andretti and the foundation for the opportunity to save lives and honor John’s legacy at the same time.”

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.”