Lundqvist impresses RLL in Texas test

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Lundqvist impresses RLL in Texas test


Lundqvist impresses RLL in Texas test


With one NTT IndyCar Series road course test completed for Andretti Autosport, the next step in the education of 2022 Indy Lights champion Linus Lundqvist was to throw the Swede onto a big oval, and thanks to Bobby Rahal and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team, the 24-year-old nearly completed a full race distance on Monday at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I’ve followed Linus the last couple of years and being alerted to him by with Kenny Brack, and Kenny’s always spoken highly of him,” Rahal told RACER. “I wasn’t there, but all the feedback I got was that he did great. Very professional, very workmanlike. Just got in there and got with the program and he did as many laps as you would run in a race. All in all, you know, everyone was pleased.

“As I told him, we’re not looking for lap records. Just do a solid job, enjoy it, learn from it. It’s your day. I talked to him last night, in fact, and he was like a kid at Christmas. Was very appreciative of the opportunity. It was all good from our end.”

Lundqvist turned his attention to American open-wheel racing after winning the 2018 British Formula 3 championship and soon added a 2020 Formula Regional Americas title to his quiver before graduating to Indy Lights. After dominating the series last season, the only educational gap left for the lifelong road racer to fill was at a 220mph oval like the one in Texas.

“I spoke to as many drivers and as many engineers I could before the test hoping to prepare myself a little bit, but nothing could prepare you for that, man,” Lundqvist said. “It was unbelievable. I’m not gonna lie…the first couple of laps, my stomach and head weren’t sure I if I should throw up or pass out…but I was fine. I had so many emotions on the first couple of laps.

“Proud of the day that we had, and it did run by very smoothly. Maybe the first 10 laps, I was like, ‘All right, this is fast.’ But then, by lap 11, you’re just like, ‘OK, how can we go a little bit faster and a little bit faster? How can we move my scrub?’ Very quickly, my brain turned on to performance mode. That was nice to see, because obviously I’ve never done an oval in IndyCar, I’ve never done a superspeedway before. So I wasn’t really sure how I was going to react. But I loved it.”

Along with the seat time, Lundqvist says the chance to be a part of RLL’s development process furthered his education toward a career as an IndyCar racer. Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Lundqvist spent the majority of the day working with RLL’s engineers to test different chassis setup concepts to find some of the speed that was missing during last weekend’s race. According to Rahal, a number of beneficial directions were identified with Lundqvist in the car that should improve the team’s fortunes on the next oval.

“It was great to have been a part of that,” said Lundqvist who spent almost eight straight hours strapped into the No. 45 Honda, barring a 10-minute break to heed nature’s call. “Obviously very impressive to see the scale of which they operate — the tools and all the data that they have access to is a big step and some new things to learn for me. It was great opportunity and a great honor to do a test together with those guys. The Indy 500 is coming up, and hopefully I played a small part and maybe they can then step a bit closer to the front.”

RLL doesn’t have any open seats to offer Lundqvist at the moment, but that didn’t stop Rahal from continuing his long tradition of helping young talent to gain more mileage or advance their standing in the IndyCar paddock.

“We are trying to help him, and I think I do have a little bit of a track record with bringing people into the sport or trying to help them resurrect their careers, whether it was Buddy Rice, or Ryan Hunter-Reay, or Danica (Patrick),” Rahal said. “Christian Lundgaard is someone we gave a shot to more recently, and we’ve tested Juri Vips a couple of times and there will be others.

“And now that Linus has done a big speedway like Texas, hopefully that makes him more attractive to anyone thinking about drivers for the Indy 500 or wherever else they might find themselves with a need. A lot of this goes back to my experience with Jim Trueman. Everybody thinks that I’m the only one he ever really got behind, but he got behind a lot of people and he enjoyed giving somebody a chance and seeing them run with it. I’m just trying to follow what Jim did for me and emulate him.”