Alumni news: Record-breaking Pedersen secures top-12 starting berth for Indy 500

Alumni news: Record-breaking Pedersen secures top-12 starting berth for Indy 500

22 May 2023

BRDC British F3 race-winner Benjamin Pedersen delivered one of the most impressive rookie qualifying performances in recent Indy 500 history on Sunday (21 May), as the Danish-American driver made the ‘Fast-12’ segment on his event debut.

In doing so, the 24-year-old, who is the fastest of the four rookies at the event, broke a record and came close to matching another too. The AJ Foyt Racing driver’s first lap of 233.297mph set a new track record for the fastest lap by a rookie, and his four-lap average speed of 232.739mph is the second-fastest four-lap qualifying average (232.739mph) for a first-timer since Tony Stewart’s 233.100mph back in 1996.

Pedersen’s performance means he will start next weekend’s race from 11th position in the 33-car field, just behind last year’s winner (and ex-F1 driver) Marcus Ericsson. He was faster than a quartet of former Indy 500 winners too, with Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud all behind him.

"Honestly, the car is just working fantastic," Pedersen said. "The team has put so much effort into this event and into giving us a great car. And, you know, the engineers and everyone on the team just really, really delivered so hats off to them. I'm just doing my part and driving the race car but it's really a true full team effort. And without a good car it's hard to go anywhere, I'm just very grateful.

"We only did two runs yesterday and I just knew going into qualifying this thing's gonna be hooked up. And it was. I was actually the most relaxed on this run, because I just knew we had such a great car. It was just a dream with how good it was. But I'm just so happy for the whole team, they did a great job."

Pedersen’s junior career saw him compete in two BRDC British F3 campaigns, and won races at Silverstone for Douglas Motorsport and Double R Racing, taking four other podium finishes in that time.

He then graduated to Indy Lights in 2021, taking his first victory in the series last year before moving up to IndyCar at the start of 2023.

The 107th running of the Indy 500 is scheduled to commence at 11am Eastern Time (4pm UK) on Sunday 28 May.