Indy Lights sophomore Benjamin Pedersen is set to participate in his first NTT IndyCar Series test next week with the Juncos Hollinger Racing team.
The 22-year-old Danish-American talent has been on a trajectory towards IndyCar for the better part of seven years, and with an opportunity to pilot one of JHR’s Chevy-powered Dallara DW12s on Monday at Sebring’s short course in Florida, Pedersen will be one step closer to the series he intends to join in 2023.
“The excitement level can’t be higher than it is,” he told RACER. “So it’s maximum excitement, but at the same time, I have to keep it really balanced because I have a job this year in Indy Lights to maximize everything I can with the team. So that is first and foremost where all my focus is right now, but if I split it, I have another part where I’m thinking about next year where the plan is 100-percent to be in IndyCar. So I’m thinking about how I can be the most prepared for that. So I think about that separately from my current year in Indy Lights without the two things conflicting with each other.”
With nine podiums in a year and a half of Indy Lights running with the family-owned Global Racing Group team that partners with HMD Motorsports, Pedersen is inching closer to his IndyCar dream. He’s also been a steady figure on pit lane with the A.J. Foyt Racing team since the season opener in February, where he’s worn a headset and picked up all he can about how an IndyCar team administers an event.
“There’s no better way to prepare for IndyCar next year than to start testing and to be in the paddock on a timing stand to be involved and see everything in IndyCar,” said Pedersen, who originally planned to test with Foyt but switched to Juncos when a testing regulation snag was hit. “It’s given me even more focus into the driving perspective, the strategy, pitstops, and all the things that get added onto what I do now in Lights.
“My whole career has been about getting into faster cars, whether it’s through F4 to F3 to Indy Lights, now it’s just another step with that. So that that’s not very different. The only difference is now it will be the highest level within America that you get to. So going up to test an IndyCar, it doesn’t feel foreign.”
Separate from his training and preparation to join IndyCar, Pedersen is looking to improve upon this current position of third in the Indy Lights championship and, more than anything else, earn his breakthrough victory in the series. As the owner of five second-place finishes across 27 Lights races to date, standing on the top step of the podium is the last major hurdle for Pedersen to clear.
“It doesn’t weigh on me, but I really want to win,” he said. “We’re putting in a lot of work for it, but we take it as it comes and I think if you just treat it like that, you’ll subconsciously help the results come with that process. All the focus just stays on how to get the win.”