ashley asks....

ASHLEY ASKS…… Benjamin Pedersen

By: Ashley McCubbin

After placing fifth in the 2022 Indy NXT standings, Benjamin Pedersen will move up to the NTT IndyCar Series full-time with A.J Foyt Racing. The Danish / American driver recently shared his thoughts with NEWS FROM THE PITS entering the season.

What are your thoughts going into the 2023 season?

Just really excited. At the shop right now, you can feel the energy of everyone getting enthusiastic from everyone about getting back to a race track. There’s a lot of positive energy here at Foyt right now with new people, new procedures, cars being built, everything like that. it’s really exciting and it’s just two and a half weeks and we’re back on-track.

Why did you feel this was the right opportunity for the next step of your racing career?

So when I was looking at graduating from Indy NXT to IndyCar, Larry Foyt, the owner here – you could really tell they were trying to improve the program for the future. It’s an opportunity to be a part of something that is going to grow for the long term and really be a part of something special to help grow. That is what has made it very appealing to join this team looking back in time.

You can really see now with the announcements of Michael Cannon, whose are new technical director, chief engineer who was with (Scott) Dixon the past few years. That’s really exciting to have people of his caliber on-board. Then also, there’s so many other personnel changes within the team that is really exciting. Yeah, just super excited. It’s really special to be a part of something where you’re thinking of the long run and everyone is trying to get better and ultimately, just really excited to get on-track.

So what are the goals for your rookie season?

The obvious goal is to win Rookie of the Year. There’s not that many rookies compared to some of the previous years, but honestly, it’s just maximize every weekend in terms of what we’re capable of as a team. It’s really a big team effort. We have pit stops compared to what I’m used to in Junior Formula, long races, strategy, it’s a big team effort. Just really looking forward to working with the team in that whole area. We have some internal goals within the team right now, but as we achieve those, they will be constantly changing. So we’ll always be pushing which I look forward to.

What track are you most looking forward to on the schedule?

Great question. In terms of the big event, the Indianapolis 500 is really exciting. I haven’t done the oval ever, so the rookie orientation program will be my first time on that track. I’m excited to see the new tracks that I haven’t been to such as Texas (Motor Speedway), Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) oval, Toronto, Long Beach, but even just to come back to the tracks that I’ve been at for most of my career so far will be really nice in an IndyCar, which is a really great car to drive. I look forward to drive.

Even though those previous laps came in the Junior Formula cars as you mentioned, how beneficial will be having that track time at those places?

It’s massive. Some of the tracks that I’ve driven at all the way back from F4 when I would’ve been 2016, 2017. So I think that’s a massive help, and in different types of conditions, whether raining, damp –that experience plays a big factor. Really, the only new thing will be a different car for those tracks and longer race, pit stops, etc.

Looking back at last year in Indy NXT, what do you feel you could’ve done differently or better to finish higher in the standings?

Good question. There’s a couple races where it was a bit unfortunate we got hit being in the position to go for a win, and get taken out. So that was a bit out of our control that played a pretty big impact. But honestly, I’m really just focused on finishing races as a rookie here in IndyCar, especially for the big ones, for the 500, so that I can learn the flow of how the races work and everything like that for the future. But the big goal is to always maximize what we can do as a team, and then constantly re-evaluating the goals as we achieve them.

Right now you’re obviously focused on IndyCar right now. But what else out there would you like to get behind the wheel of?

Like you said, the main focus is IndyCar, but I would love to get into some GT stuff for the long endurance races, like Daytona 24 (Hours), all the endurance races for IMSA is really appealing and something I’d like to be a part of. But right now, my main focus is IndyCar and doing the best job that we can.

What would be one piece of advice to a driver in Junior Formula that hopes to be where you are now?

There’s lots of advice that you could talk for hours about, things that you can pay attention to. But honestly, it’s a lot of hard work. I would say make sure you love to do it, work really hard for it, and obviously that’s a broad statement but applies to everything but I think that’s a big factor – to have the passion for it.

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