Will Power wins second IndyCar championship with third place in season finale AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

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MONTEREY, California. Sticking to the steady and unimpressive methods he has used all season, Will Power won his second NTT IndyCar Series championship with a third-place finish on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Starting from pole position for a record 68th time in his career, Team Penske drove 17 laps in the number 12 Dallara-Chevrolet and stayed in front for 95 laps on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn track on the highway. Monterey Peninsula of California.

Power, who also won the title in 2014, finished 16 points ahead of teammate Joseph Newgarden, who finished second after starting 25th due to a spin in qualifying.

Race winner Alex Palou also put in an inspired race, leading 67 of 95 laps and winning by more than 30 seconds after starting from 11th due to a six grid position penalty. It was the first win of the season for the reigning series champion, who was embroiled in a contract dispute with Chip Ganassi Racing.

But the main story was that Power played the long game calmly, as he had all season. Although he only had one win this season (at Detroit Belle Isle in June), Power finished on a ninth podium finish in 17 races on Sunday, the day after breaking Mario Andretti’s record for pole positions.

“Let me tell you that during the offseason my wife (Liz) told me that you were going to break Mario’s record and win the championship and it really gave me confidence that she said I could do it.” Power, 41, told NBC Sports’ Marty Snyder.. “That’s how confident I was in her flair. She said those words and I just can’t believe they came true.

“Dude, today I had to drive this thing, it was cranky and on the edge. What a relief.”

The first warning flag of the race was raised on lap 39 after Callum Ilott, a career-best start in second, stalled in turn two and failed to restart his No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara-Chevrolet.

IndyCar officials held the yellow mark for a lap, waiting to see if Ailot would start moving again, and points leader Will Power was among those who dove into the pits to change tires while still under the green.

When the race resumed on lap 43, all five championship contenders were in the top ten, with Palu leading ahead of Power with Newgarden (fifth), McLaughlin (sixth), Eriksson (eighth) and Dixon (10th).

Willpower from Team Penske lifts the Astor Cup after winning his second NTT IndyCar Series championship and third at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images).

But the race remained green the rest of the way, and although Newgarden continued to climb the field (while making an extra pit stop), Power never lost his cool, despite he is overtaken by his teammate and ceded the leadership to Pal.

It was the Spaniard’s first win in over a year. Monday marks two months since Palou announced he had signed with McLaren Racing, despite Ganassi’s announcement that he has the option of using Palou’s services for 2023.

“Today was amazing,” Palow told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “Great job by the whole team. The strategy was great. It’s good to end the season with a win. I struggled a little all weekend and I don’t know what happened today but it worked out so I’m very happy to win this year’s race.”

Although Palou claimed for several weeks that he would not drive for Ganassi next year, he did not rule it out when Lee asked if this was his last race in the tenth Dallara-Honda race.

“Yes, things are going well, so we’ll see what we can say, but yes,” Palow said. “We will now enjoy the moment and see what happens.”

Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to be honored by Indy Lights. in IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed on Wednesday that he will be part of their 2023 roster.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old Danish-US citizen, spent last season driving 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 after pole position in Portland.

Pedersen also drove four races for HMD in 2021, finishing second in his debut. Pedersen came to the attention of AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season keeping an eye on the IndyCar team.

His progress in IndyCar is ahead of all four drivers who have finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We really hope that Benjamin will become part of our team,” said Larry Foyt. “His enthusiasm is infectious and he is 100 percent dedicated to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing and goes above and beyond to win races.

“It was great to have him join the team last season and everyone is excited to get going when testing starts. It’s also great to have a multi-year program that will help him and the team grow together.”

Voith did not give Pedersen’s car number. Kyle Kirkwood spent his first season driving the No. 14 flagship AJ Foyt, but Kirkwood moves to Andretti Autosport. The team has yet to announce if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and Tatiana Calderon’s third car has been withdrawn from competition after seven races due to non-payment from sponsors. The closure of Calderón’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, signed an agreement that Foyt said “spans several seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is in line with AJ Foyt Racing’s long-term plan.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but grew up in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said that his time following the IndyCar team gave him a boost in training as a rookie.

“I spent a lot of time with AJ Foyt Racing this season learning the ins and outs of moving to IndyCar and it was a real pleasure to do so with my Indy Lights season,” said Pedersen. “IndyCar has been my goal since I started racing open wheels in 2016. The racing, the atmosphere, the fans, the events, the tracks, etc. are all amazing.”



Source: motorsports.nbcsports.com