Lundgaard happy to play dark horse role as an Indy rookie

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Lundgaard happy to play dark horse role as an Indy rookie

IndyCar

Lundgaard happy to play dark horse role as an Indy rookie

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Experience is generally an asset at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Christian Lundgaard is hoping that going into his first Indianapolis 500 without any baggage or preconceptions will be an advantage.

“Not growing up in the American culture, I didn’t grow up knowing what this race was,” said the Dane. “I’m not saying that the race doesn’t mean anything to me, but the American drivers that have grown up over here, watched the race from their childhood, have dreamed about racing in this race. Obviously that takes some pressure off me, because I’m coming in as if it’s a normal race.

“I’m just excited. I mean, it’s a long race. We had a good outing in Texas [ED: He ran inside the top 10 late in the race before being eliminated by contact with Colton Herta], so I’ve just got to build on that. It’s my second ever oval race. In the end I’ve got nothing to lose.”

While the 20-year-old isn’t letting the occasion get to him, he admits that he’s burned through a lot of hours on YouTube preparing for his first run at Indy.

“I think I’ve watched too many races by now,” he said. “Fun fact: Last year I watched the Indy 500. I watched all races last year and a couple of months later I had the opportunity to do the test at Barber, and then suddenly I was here racing at the Indy GP. Then from that moment on I pretty much knew I was going to do the 500.

“I’ve watched pretty much all the races that I can find on YouTube just to have experience. Graham [Rahal] has got 14 races underneath him. He knows how the race pans out. He’s got the flow of the race. I can’t really put myself in that position being in the car, but I’ve got a lot of information that I can work with. I’ve got experience racing, as well, and I think Texas helped me massively just to understand the flow of all the racing. I’m feeling pretty prepared.”

While eager to make the grade on pure pace, Lundgaard’s homework has already taught him that more than that goes into a successful run at Indy. Motorsport Images

Lungaard said that one of the takeaways from the previous races he’s watched are that success at the Speedway doesn’t always come down to raw speed.

“The 100th running is pretty interesting with (Alexander) Rossi, how he managed to save that amount of fuel, coming in as a rookie,” he said. “I’m coming in as a rookie. So watching that race was pretty interesting. I’d rather win the race on pure pace, obviously, but a win is a win. Looking at how he did it, it’s one way that I can learn as much as possible.”

Lundgaard was narrowly the quickest of the RLL drivers during the second day of practice on Thursday; his 225.248mph best put him just ahead of Jack Harvey and Marco Andretti on the time sheets, and 13th-fastest overall.

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