Benjamin Pedersen

When sizing up the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season for 2022, several participating drivers put Benjamin Pedersen of Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports on the short list of championship contenders. Petersen wanted no part of such talk.

“I don’t make the lists,” he said. “That’s not where my focus is.”

One race into the season, Pedersen is squarely on the list. The 22-year-old native of Copenhagen, Denmark, qualified in the fourth position and finished second in last month’s season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida, and will again be among the favorites at Barber Motorsports Park, the next event on Indy Lights’ schedule. The race is May 1.

Getting off to a strong start should bode well for Pedersen, who last year in Indy Lights got rolling in the second half of the season. After posting just two top-five finishes in the first 10 races, he scored seven in the last 10 to grab the fourth spot in the final standings.

Only one of this year’s Indy Lights drivers finished ahead of him: Linus Lundqvist.

Before this season began, Pedersen spoke of the benefit of having a year in Indy Lights under his belt, which likely was a contributing factor to the way he performed at St. Petersburg. Last year, he finished 10th and sixth in the two races in that event. This year went much better in his orange-and-black No. 24 car.

“It’s massive,” Pedersen said of the benefit to having a year’s worth of experience. “The easiest way to describe it is, the first preseason test last year (compared) to the first preseason test this year. Everything was like 10 times better this year.”

Pedersen, whose career began in the F4 U.S. Championship in 2016, is still in pursuit of his first Indy Lights race victory, but his past suggests it’s coming. His second season in F4 produced two wins, and two years later he scored three wins in his second F3 Americas season.

Pedersen should be optimistic to again race at Barber Motorsports Park given that he finished second in one of last year’s Indy Lights races.

“Last year was my rookie year not only in Indy Lights but also the Road to Indy, for that matter,” he said. “I was new to ovals, new to street circuits. There were new tracks for me.

“But it was a great experience to learn all those places, and by the end of the year we were at the front pretty much all the time. So, we’ve kind of picked up where we left off.”

Second in the standings certainly qualifies for being on the list.