Linus Lundqvist withstood a late-race charge by teammate Benjamin Pedersen and contact coming off the final turn to score a dominating Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires victory Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park.
Swedish driver Lundqvist led the entire 45-minute race from the pole and held a strong lead for most of the race in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car. The race was run on a wet racetrack due to morning thunderstorms, forcing teams to compete on rain tires.
As the track dried and the treaded tires lost grip, Lundqvist saw his lead, which was nearly three seconds at one point over Pedersen’s No. 24 Global Racing Group with HMD car, shrink quickly.
Pedersen caught Lundqvist coming to the white flag and got a run entering Turn 17 on the final trip around the 17-turn, 2.3-mile circuit. Pedersen made contact with the rear of Lundqvist’s car and attempted to pass him coming to the line, falling just 0.1782s shy at the checkered flag.
“First, I got to say good job to my teammate Benjamin,” Lundqvist said. “That was one of the closest fights I’ve had in a very long time. I knew that it was the last lap, so I didn’t have to hold back, but obviously Benjamin gave me a good run for my money.
“I’m super happy, and a massive thank you to my HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing team. It’s just fantastic.”
Lundqvist’s fourth career Indy Lights win vaulted him into the Indy Lights championship lead after two races so far this season. It’s also gives him two wins in the last three Indy Lights races as Lundqvist won the 2021 finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, which was also a wet race.
Pedersen’s runner-up result tied his career best finish. The Danish driver has finished second four times during his Lights career, including last year at this track to Lundqvist.
“We touched on the last corner, but I think one more lap and I would have had him,” Pedersen said. “It was just a matter of managing the tires the whole race. Nevertheless, it’s a great team result.”
Sting Ray Robb rounded out the podium with a third-place finish in the No. 2 Sekady car fielded by Andretti Autosport. Danial Frost came home fourth in the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car, and Kyffin Simpson was the highest finishing rookie at fifth in the No. 21 TJ Speed Motorsports car.
The race began roughly 20 minutes after the scheduled start time due to weather and was moved from a 35-lap race to a 45-minute race. While the race was packed with action as drivers learned how to race in the wet conditions or worked overtime to keep their car on track, there was just one caution.
Eight minutes into the race, Christian Bogle spun entering Turn 16 and went off track in the No. 7 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car, getting stuck in the gravel trap.
The action only heated up from there. With 19 minutes remaining, last year’s Indy Pro 2000 champion Christian Rasmussen was locked in a fierce duel with Manuel Sulaiman for fifth.
As Sulaiman sought to defend his position in the No. 59 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car, the front of Rasmussen’s No. 28 Road to Indy/Stellrecht car hit the rear of Sulaiman’s car. Rasmussen lost his front wing and went off course. His Andretti Autosport team repaired the car and he finished 11th, while Sulaiman finished 10th.
As the race was nearing its end, Andretti Autosport teammates had contact that nearly brought the race under caution again. Entering Turn 5, rookie Hunter McElrea attempted to pass St. Petersburg race winner Matthew Brabham on the inside with just over two minutes remaining in the race.
McElrea’s No. 27 Andretti Autosport car lost grip and slammed the left rear of Brabham’s No. 83 Andretti Autosport car. Both drivers went off track. Brabham continued to finish seventh, while McElrea’s day was done, and he finished 12th.
The series will be back in action Friday, May 13 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for Race 1 of a doubleheader weekend on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile track that kicks off the Month of May action at IMS. Lundqvist won Race 1 of the IMS doubleheader last season.