IndyCar team facing contract drama after driver announcement?

Santino Ferrucci's return to A.J. Foyt Enterprises means that Benjamin Pedersen will not be back for the 2024 IndyCar season, even though he supposedly had a multi-year contract.
Santino Ferrucci, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, IndyCar
Santino Ferrucci, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, IndyCar / SOPA Images/GettyImages

A.J. Foyt Enterprises announced on Tuesday that Santino Ferrucci is set to return to the team for a second IndyCar season behind the wheel of the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2024.

The confirmation solidifies the team's two-car driver lineup for the upcoming 17-race season, as they had already announced that Sting Ray Robb, who spent his rookie season competing for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing last year, is set to drive the No. 41 Chevrolet (formerly the No. 55 Chevrolet).

Benjamin Pedersen competed for the team as a rookie behind the wheel of the No. 55 Chevrolet last year, and he was said to have signed a multi-year deal. However, the announcement of Ferrucci indicates that he will not be back for a second season.

Benjamin Pedersen out at A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Back when Robb was announced as the driver of the No. 41 Chevrolet, the team did not comment about Pedersen's future -- or lack thereof -- with the organization, beyond stating that they weren't sure.

But Pedersen took to social media himself to issue a statement welcoming Robb to the team, implying -- or at least attempting to imply -- that he would indeed be a part of their 2024 roster.

However, team president Larry Foyt has now stated that the team's agreement with Pedersen had "lapsed by its own terms".

Whether or not Pedersen and his management team choose to respond to being left off the team's 2024 lineup remains to be seen. It is worth noting that even some multi-year deals do contain certain options and clauses that would allow termination before the end of multiple seasons.

All things considered, it's highly unlikely that this turns into an Alex Palou-like saga.

Pedersen finished in 27th place, last among full-time drivers and even behind a few drivers who missed races, in the championship standings last year. The highlight of his season was taking part in the top 12 shootout during Indy 500 qualifying, but he would go on to record a 21st place DNF in the race itself.

He finished the year with just three top 20 finishes and nothing higher than the 15th place finish he recorded at Texas Motor Speedway in his second start. He also finished in 16th in the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and 20th on the streets of Detroit, Michigan.

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Dale Coyne Racing are now the only team with any open seats for the 2024 season, and they still have two seats to fill. Pedersen's name has routinely been mentioned as a possibility for one of them.