The month of May proved to be a magical and promising time for NTT INDYCAR Series Rookie Benjamin Pedersen, after many successful practice days and setting two records during his first qualifying attempt. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” concluded Sunday with the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on the 2.5-mile oval.
Pedersen, who started in the middle of the fourth row from the 11th position in the No. 55 Sexton Properties Chevrolet looked to make his way forward throughout the 200-lap race. Throughout the first half of the race, Pedersen was running inside the Top-15, before an unfortunate pit speed violation would require him to serve a drive-through penalty. Later in the race Pedersen was able to get back on the lead lap and looked to fight his way back through the field.
When the third caution of the day came out late in the race, Pedersen was caught up in a multi-car chain reaction collision which was not of Pedersen’s doing. Pedersen had been running 19th but looked like he might finish in the top 15 before the accident.
“It’s been a tremendous month,” said Pedersen. “My first 500, made it into the fast 12, fastest ever rookie here for a one-lap average, just a huge, huge month. We were fast, started 11th for the race. We were running a very good race, we were the last rookie to be out there fighting to the end. Unfortunately, on a restart, got hit from behind by a car that was a lap down and we were still on the lead lap. It was really unfortunate that something like that happened — it was out of my control. Just very fortunate to be able to do this, it was an amazing experience, and I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait for Detroit next week and to come back here next year with what I know is a fast car. Crazy race but I wish it would have ended a little better.”
Asked about his impressions of the start of the race, Pedersen said, “The start was pretty similar to what I expected, maybe the pace was a little higher and I didn’t expect to be able to run so wide as some people were, but now I know and I’ll take that experience into next year and this momentum into Detroit next week.”
After the conclusion of the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Pedersen was awarded the “Rookie of the Year” during the banquet Monday evening, taking home a $50,000 bonus adding to the total take-home prize of $215,300.
The NTT INDYCAR Series Rookie now holds the fastest lap by a rookie at 233.297 mph and the second-fastest four-lap average of 232.739 mph by a rookie during qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A.J. Foyt was the fastest rookie qualifier in 1958 with a best speed of 143.13 mph.