Archives for 2022 Indy Lights Coverage

Good morning from USF2000 & Indy Pro 2000 championship weekend

USF2000 points leader Myles Rowe navigates Portland International Raceway in Penske Enterainment sponsored No. 22 from the Pabst Racing stable during testing Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Diane Swintal

It’s an action-packed schedule for the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires today, with qualifying and two races for both the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, and practice for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 will have one qualifying session which will determine the race one grid. The race two grid will be determined by the second-quickest lap in qualifying or the quickest race lap, whichever is faster.

In USF2000, Pabst Racing’s Myles Rowe leads Cape Motorsports’ Michael d’Orlando by 23 points, and teammate Jace Denmark by 25 points. Denmark is the only driver who has experience at Portland, having done a Formula Ford session here two weeks ago. Rowe topped the late-afternoon practice session yesterday, while Rowe and Denmark split the two test sessions. D’Orlando missed the official practice session due to damage from an incident that occurred late in the second test session.

In Indy Pro 2000, Exclusive Autosport’s Louis Foster needs only to finish 11th to secure the championship title. He leads Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Reece Gold by 77 points, but Gold led both test sessions and the practice session yesterday – though Foster was close behind in all three sessions.

Friday’s schedule:

  • 9:00 a.m.      USF2000 qualifying
  • 9:55 a.m.      Indy Pro 2000 qualifying
  • 11:20 a.m.     USF2000 race one (25 laps or 45 minutes)
  • 12:20 p.m.    Indy Pro 2000 race one (30 laps or 50 minutes)
  • 1:25 p.m.      Indy Lights practice
  • 1:40 p.m.      USF2000 autograph session (Fan Village)
  • 4:00 p.m.      USF2000 race two (25 laps or 45 minutes)
  • 5:00 p.m.      Indy Pro 2000 race two (30 laps or 50 minutes)


Lundqvist looks to wrap up Indy Lights title in Pacific Northwest – preview of the action

HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing’s Linus Lundqvist celebrates a win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ( Photo Courtesy Of Penske Entertainment – Chris Jones)

By Diane Swintal

Linus Lundqvist knows what lies ahead, as he nears his goal: to join the ranks of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champions and realize the culmination of years of hard work climbing up the junior open wheel ranks.

The 23-year-old Swede had a front-row seat to last year’s epic championship battle between his HMD Motorsports teammate David Malukas and Kyle Kirkwood that included a split of the two races at Portland. Lundqvist has also watched the pair make an impact this year in their rookie NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, highlighted by the first series podium for Malukas two weeks ago at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Lundqvist looks to follow that trajectory in 2023, once he clinches the series championship title – and the scholarship that will help him take the final step on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder. He enters the Portland Grand Prix weekend with a 108-point lead over Matthew Brabham, with the Indy Lights race scheduled for 10:20 a.m. on Sunday.

With a doubleheader scheduled next weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Lundqvist needs to leave Portland with a 109-point lead to clinch the championship outright. But that scenario is not a given – Lundqvist might be one of only four drivers in the field with Indy Lights experience at Portland, but three of the five rookies have raced there in other Road to Indy series.

Hunter McElrea swept both Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship races in 2019, while Rasmussen earned a podium finish behind McElrea in race one. Jacob Abel competed in the pair of Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires races that year (with Sting Ray Robb and Daniel Frost earning podiums that year as well.).

Still, Lundqvist should definitely be considered the favorite this weekend, both for race wins and for the title clinch, after a breakthrough season that has seen him take wins on all three types of circuits the series runs on – road courses (Barber and Indianapolis), street courses (a sweep of both wins at Detroit and a win at Nashville) and ovals (Iowa – though a post-race penalty for avoidable contact cost him the victory).

With five wins, seven pole positions and eight podium finishes in 11 races, Lundqvist has earned the notice of the INDYCAR paddock. But perhaps the seminal moment of his 2022 season occurred at WWTR: battling Matthew Brabham for the win, Lundqvist recognized that Brabham had the better car, and seemed content to pace his rival to the checkered flag – instead of risking the kind of late-race contact that earned him the penalty at Iowa. With all of the Indy Lights races conducted alongside (and most often, just before) the INDYCAR races, team owners know that Lundqvist is ready for his graduation.

Behind Lundqvist in the points is Brabham, who returned to the series this year to earn that same kind of notice. The patience and confidence exhibited by the Andretti Autosport driver has grown throughout the season, as he hopes team owners will aid him in his quest to return to the INDYCAR fold. Global Racing Group’s Benjamin Pedersen also looks to make the jump in 2023 as he works to score his long-awaited first Indy Lights victory over the final three races of the season.

The way forward is less clear for the remainder of the field. Andretti Autosport’s McElrea, the California-born, Australia-raised New Zealander, leads the rookie standings this season, with two victories, three poles and six podiums. Whether he and his supporters can put the budget together for 2023 remains to be seen but if he does return to Indy Lights, he would go to the top of the championship contender list – a list that looks to contain a good number of drivers graduating from Indy Pro 2000. (Update: Thursday morning, Andretti Autosport announced that McElrea would return to the team in 2023)

A quartet of Andretti Autosport drivers – from left to right; Sting Ray Robb, Hunter McElrea, Christian Rasmussen and Matthew Brabham – sign autographs for the fans at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – Sean Birkle)

2021 Indy Pro 2000 and 2020 USF2000 champ Christian Rasmussen has been a mystery this season. Never one to be involved in incidents in his three previous seasons on the Road to Indy, Rasmussen has found himself outside the top 10 in five races this year. Of the six races he has finished, he has scored three podium finishes, including a victory at Road America. One can only hope that he will be able to return to the series – and to Andretti Autosport – in 2023. Similar scenarios exist for much of the remainder of the field, including Robb, Frost, Abel, Kyffin Simpson, Christian Bogle, James Roe and Antonio Serravalle. Ernie Francis, Jr., competing this season with Force Indy as part of Penske Entertainment’s Race for Equality & Change, has begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel in his first season of open-wheel racing, hopefully deserving of a sophomore season to continue that learning curve.


A few more random Indy Lights notes from Steve

First, a big welcome and thank you to Diane Swintal, who is jumping to help with TSO coverage this weekend. I (Steve) will be joining NBC again, and we couldn’t think of a more passionate and knowledgeable person to help Patrick with Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires coverage this weekend.

The Indy Lights Grand Prix of Portland will be the 21st Indy Lights race contested at Portland International Raceway. That ranks sixth on the all-time list.

Previous Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires winners at Portland International Raceway

2021 Race #2 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport
2021 Race #1 David Malukas HMD Motorsports
2019 Race #2 Toby Sowery HMD Motorsports
2019 Race #1 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing
2018 Race #2 Patricio O’Ward Andretti Autosport
2018 Race #1 Patricio O’Ward Andretti Autosport
2001 Damien Faulkner Dorricott Racing
2000 Jason Bright Dorricott Racing
1999 Phillipp Peter Dorricott Racing
1998 Guy Smith Johansson Motorsports
1997 Hideki Noda Indy Regency Racing
1996 Gualter Salles Brian Stewart Racing
1995 Greg Moore Forsythe Racing
1994 Andre Ribeiro Tasman Motorsports
1993 Franck Freon John Martin Racing
1992 Frank Freon Landford Racing
1991 Eric Bachelart Landford Racing
1990 Paul Tracy Landford Racing
1989 Tommy Byrne Landford Racing
1988 Tommy Byrne Opar Racing

An Indy Lights race winner in Rose City has won the championship four times. That list includes the following drivers: 1990 (Paul Tracy) – 1995 (Greg Moore) – 2018 (Pato O’Ward [2]) – 2021 (Kyle Kirwood).

The pole sitter has won 55% of the 20 Indy Lights races at Portland International Raceway, including three of the six races since the series returned in 2018.

The average starting spot of the winner is 2.1, and the lowest a winner started the race was seventh (Pato O’Ward in his championship-clinching win in 2018).

Pato O’Ward celebrates winning the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship at Portland International Raceway (Photo Courtesy Of Andersen Promotions)

The average finishing position of the pole-sitting driver is 2.4, with Ryan Norman’s eighth place finish the worst.

Twelve of the 20 Indy Lights races have had a first lap caution.

A half-dozen of the races have run caution free.

Linus Lundqvist is the only driver to complete every lap this season.

% of laps completed during the 2022 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season

1 Linus Lundqvist 100.0%
2 Kyffin Simpson 99.5%
3 Benjamin Pedersen 99.8%
4 Matthew Brabham 99.5%
5 Sting Ray Robb 99.5%
6 Ernie Francis, Jr. 98.6%
7 Christian Rasmussen 89.8%
8 Jacob Abel 93.4%
9 Danial Frost 92.3%
10 Hunter McElrea 90.9%
11 Christian Bogle 87.8%
12 Antonio Serravalle 71.2%
13 James Roe, Jr. 83.2%
14 Ryan Phinny 28.1%
15 Manuel Sulaiman 17.2%

With 207 points and wins at Barber Motorsports Park and on the IMS Road Course, Lundqvist leads all drivers through the first five natural terrain road course races of the 2022 Indy Lights season. Behind him, a trio of drivers is separated by a single point.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Road Course Points after five of eight races

1 Linus Lundqvist 207
2 Sting Ray Robb 177
2 Christian Rasmussen – R 177
4 Hunter McElrea – R 176
5 Danial Frost 152
6 Benjamin Pedersen 138
7 Matthew Brabham 136
8 Jacob Abel 131
9 Kyffin Simpson – R 116
10 Antonio Serravalle 110
11 Ernie Francis, Jr. – R 106
12 Christian Bogle 102
13 James Roe, Jr. – R 95
14 Ryan Phinny 34
15 Manuel Sulaiman 20

Penske Entertainment and INDYCAR brought back prize money this year. So far, Linus Lundqvist and HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing have led the way, cashing in $145,000 in prize checks in the first 11 races of the year.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires prize money won in 2022

1 Linus Lundqvist $145000.00
2 Hunter McElrea $90000.00
3 Matthew Brabham $85000.00
4 Sting Ray Robb $75000.00
5 Benjamin Pedersen $60000.00
6 Christian Rasmussen $60000.00
7 Danial Frost $30000.00
8 Christian Bogle $5000.00
9 Antonio Serravalle $0.00
10 James Roe, Jr. $0.00
11 Kyffin Simpson $0.00
12 Jacob Abel $0.00
13 Manuel Sulaiman $0.00
14 Ryan Phinny $0.00
15 Ernie Francis, Jr. $0.00

That’s a hefty chunk of change and will certainly make taking a good driver that is a little short of an entire budget a less risky gamble.

Brabham avenges Iowa disappointment with pass on Lundqvist for WWT Raceway win

Matthew Brabham got the win back at Gateway. Photo credit: James Black | Penske Entertainment

By Tony DiZinno

The win that got away from Matthew Brabham at Iowa Speedway came back to him Saturday in the second and final Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race oval race of the season at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

A decisive move late in the race on Iowa sparring partner Linus Lundqvist ended significantly better than their last go-for-the-win battle there, as they avoided contact. Brabham passed through on the inside with four laps remaining in the 75-lap race to capture his second win of the season, and first since St. Petersburg.

The 12 cars ran fairly clean early on with polesitter Lundqvist pacing the pack ahead of Brabham and Benjamin Pedersen, the latter still in search of his elusive first Indy Lights race win. Christian Rasmussen and Danial Frost had a good battle for fourth behind them.

Christian Bogle took his HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry to pit lane after wall contact in Turn 2, having bent the right rear toe link. He was able to resume later after losing nine laps.

At one-third distance, 25 of 75 laps complete, Lundqvist led Brabham by just over 0.7 of a second with Pedersen, Rasmussen and Frost in the top five.

Rasmussen kept focused and made it by Pedersen for third on Lap 40. But the would-be podium run came undone on Lap 52 as he ran wide exiting Turn 2, tattooed the wall and headed for the pit lane and an early retirement. 

Brabham kept the tires and car underneath him and the driver of the No. 83 Andretti Autosport Dallara made his move on Lundqvist with four laps to go into Turn 3. He got by the No. 26 HMD with Dale Coyne Racing entry cleanly, kept the lead on corner exit and brought it home to the victory.

The win came after Brabham had astutely started running the higher line to gain pace and close on Lundqvist closer to the end of the race. 

“I just wanted a win so badly, especially after Iowa. I had that grit! I could tell he was getting loose. I showed too much of what I can do at Iowa. Now I don’t want to show anyone anything! I was saving the top line for the last couple laps. I ran the high line and it worked. Awesome job by this whole team,” Brabham told Peacock’s Georgia Henneberry in victory lane. 

Lundqvist was a strategic and smart second, Pedersen third with Frost and Hunter McElrea completing the top five. 

Provisionally, Lundqvist’s championship lead is more than 100 points with just three races remaining. 

Indy Lights at World Wide Technology Raceway – Unofficial Results

P No Name Team Laps Diff
1 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 75 LAP 75
2 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 75 0.6770
3 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 75 11.6153
4 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 75 12.9299
5 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 75 21.0565
6 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 75 21.6109
7 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 75 28.8474
8 11 James Roe HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 74 1 LAPS
9 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 74 1 LAPS
10 21 Kyffin Simpson HMD Motorsports 74 1 LAPS
11 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 64 11 LAPS
12 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 52 Contact

Lundqvist gets lucky seventh Indy Lights pole at World Wide Technology Raceway

Linus Lundqvist will start first in the next Indy Lights race at World Wide Technology Raceway. Penske Entertainment – Joe Skibinski

By Tony DiZinno

Linus Lundqvist continues to position himself closer to the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title. The Swede has secured his seventh pole position of the 2022 season during Friday’s qualifying at the second and last oval of the year, the 1.25-mile World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway.

Here’s how qualifying occurred, driver-by-driver among the 12 competing this weekend. The field started qualifying with temperatures of 86F ambient and 117F track.

Like Iowa, this is an impound race for Indy Lights. The learnings discovered there was higher downforce setup in qualifying makes more sense going into the race, as Matthew Brabham charged forward from eighth to second. TSO expects everybody go higher downforce in qualifying.

Kyffin Simpson was first out and first of the six HMD Motorsports entries to take to the track. Simpson told INDYCAR Radio’s Jake Query after being first out, “The track feels like it has a bit more grip. We went after the Silver Crown cars.” 

Ernie Francis Jr. was just behind after his run in the Force Indy entry. He told INDYCAR Radio’s Michael Young the team had made progress from a test here. 

Christian Bogle slotted ahead of both of them with laps in the 158.3 bracket in the second of six HMD cars. Bogle told Query he had a small wiggle in his last lap, and wasn’t quick on the bars as he could have been. 

James Roe returned to the track for qualifying in his repaired No. 11 HMD Motorsports car after his incident in Turn 2 in practice. TSO caught up with him in-between practice and qualifying and Roe said the speed was there, which the Irishman demonstrated with laps in the 158.3 and 158.2 bracket. He was just behind Bogle. Roe told Young, “It probably felt a bit of confidence taken out. We just lost the rear. Here we erred on the side of caution. That’s how racing goes. I feel good with the race cars. It was a big thing to put it behind me.” 

Jacob Abel almost caught the Turn 2 wall on his second lap, but saved it. He slotted in second at 158.331. Abel told Query there was more in the car, and he and the team made progress from the test to practice. 

Danial Frost moved ahead of Bogle to provisional pole with a 159.128 mph average. That didn’t last though, as another HMD teammate in Benjamin Pedersen – under the Global Racing Group with HMD banner – was first into the 160 bracket at 160.124 mph.

Pedersen told Query, “This track is cool. Now we have to wait. It felt like a really good run. I made a little mistake in 3 and 4 – but I’m a bit of a perfectionist!” 

After five HMD Motorsports affiliated cars in the first seven, the four Andretti Autosport entries took to the track next.

Christian Rasmussen was first up at a 159.4, and he told Young they have a good car underneath them. “We saw a lot of stuff happen in Iowa we learned from.” 

Matthew Brabham went a little quicker at 159.5 to move into second. He told Query it was an “OK” run but he didn’t feel he got the most out of it. “But I’m a lot further up than I was at Iowa!” he laughed, noting he started eighth there before his charge through the field to what could have been a win.

Sting Ray Robb said the team took a bit of a swing and continued his pace improvement. 

Hunter McElrea completed the Andretti quartet. But he didn’t quite find the speed desired, and slotted into fourth at 159.2. He told Query he didn’t maximize what he had in qualifying. 

With only Linus Lundqvist to go, it was Pedersen ahead of the four Andretti cars of Brabham, Rasmussen, McElrea and Robb.

Lundqvist took the top spot, as the only driver to run both laps over 160 mph and for a 160.259 mph average. The Swede secured his seventh pole of the season (Barber, IMS road course twice, Detroit twice, Nashville) in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports Dallara. 

He told Young, “Mentally I’m in a happy place right now. Massive thank you to my team – HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. We were good at the test and we improved. Qualifying would be super tight. It was close between me and Benjamin, so great to have an HMD lockout. I knew I’d have to push to the limit and maybe a little beyond! Last year I was under the limit. But we strung it together with a great two laps.

“It’s been a dream season for us so far, and during all of December, I wasn’t sure I’d be going racing this year. Hopefully we can be in the big leagues next year. In IndyCar. That’s it!” he reflected too as he closes on the championship.

With a 95-point lead heading into tomorrow, he’s within range of securing the title in the not-too-distant future. 

Saturday’s 75-lap race will roll off at 3:15 p.m. CST and local time on Peacock and INDYCAR Radio.

Indy Lights at World Wide Technology Raceway – Qualifying Results

QRank No Name Team QSpeed
1 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 160.259
2 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 160.124
3 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 159.572
4 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 159.475
5 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 159.267
6 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 159.215
7 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 159.128
8 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 158.344
9 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 158.331
10 11 James Roe HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 158.321
11 21 Kyffin Simpson HMD Motorsports 157.088
12 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 157.000

Quick Practice Notes and Results

The order between Lundqvist and Pedersen was reversed in the only practice session held earlier Friday. Pedersen topped the charts there with a speed of 160.652 to Lundqvist’s 160.401. Rasmussen was the only other driver over the 160 mph mark.

James Roe had an incident in Turn 2, damaging his No. 11 HMD Motorsports entry. Additionally, Rasmussen and Sting Ray Robb had punctures after hitting debris in the middle of the track.

Drivers reported solid and consistent performance from their Cooper Tires.

Rank No Name Team Speed Laps
1 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 160.662 34
2 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 160.401 15
3 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 160.002 38
4 11 James Roe HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 159.595 39
5 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 159.363 15
6 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 159.077 48
7 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 159.048 48
8 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 158.885 53
9 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 158.875 36
10 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 158.094 44
11 21 Kyffin Simpson HMD Motorsports 157.859 41
12 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 157.345 54

Lundqvist goes wire to wire in Nashville, extends points lead

Linus Lundqvist on the 11-turn, 2.1-mile Nashville street circuit (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment- Joe Skibinski)

By Steve Wittich

The call to fire the AER 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engines powering the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires drivers were fired at 12:05 pm.

After two laps behind the pace car front row of Lundqvist and McElrea brought the field across Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge to get the 35-lap race underway. However, the lap count and clock began when they crossed the finish line in front of Nissan Stadium.

Lundqvist got the jump on McElrea with the front row drivers filing nose-to-tail through Turn 9. Behind them, the field was side-by-side with Abel (up two positions), Pedersen, and Francis, Jr. (up one position).

The running order after the first 14 corners was Lundqvist, McElrea, Robb, Matthew Brabham (Andretti Autosport), Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports), Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), Christian Rasmussen (Andretti Autosport), Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport), Ernie Francis, Jr. (Force Indy), James Roe, Jr. (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), Christian Bogle (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), and Kyffin Simpson (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing).

On Lap 3, Abel lost two spots, dropping back to his eighth starting position.

On Lap 5, the No. 27 of McElrea got a better run off Turn 3 and gaining as they crossed the bridge to Turn 4. The Andretti Autosport rookie locked up the right front tire, almost making contact with the leader as they went through the tight Turn 5, 6, and 7 portions of the track.

After seven laps, two seconds covered the top four.

On the next lap, Francis, Jr, who was running ninth, tagged the wall, damaging the left-rear suspension. The Force Indy driver came to pit road for quick repairs. He got back out on the track, but was two laps down.

By Lap 11, Bogle had caught up with the back of the field, putting pressure on his new teammate Roe.

At the front of the field, Lundquist had a somewhat comfortable one-second lead over McElrea, who was facing pressure from his teammate Robb.

On Lap 14, Lundqvist turned the quickest lap of the race, growing his lead to over three seconds.

On Lap 18, Robb reported that his push-to-pass was not working, but on the next lap, he got a great run onto the bridge, going to the outside of McElrea and braking really late on the run down to Turn 4, but could not complete the pass.

At the halfway mark of the race, Lundqvist’s lead was 4.5 seconds over McElrea, with the rest of the running order Robb, Brabham, Pedersen, Rasmussen, Frost, Abel, Simpson, Roe, Bogle, and Francis, Jr.

On Lap 20, Rasmussen went outside Pedersen in the braking area of Turn 4, hitting a bump, getting sideways, and almost making contact with the Dirtfish sponsored orange and black No. 24.

That gave him a comfortable gap to the reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion.

On Lap 21, McElrea almost missed Turn 4, putting Robb right on his gearbox. The battle for the lead was five seconds up the road from the remainder of the field. Behind them, only three seconds separated Brabham in fourth and Abel in eighth.

On Lap 24, Francis, Jr., found the tire barrier in Turn 8, keeping the engine running and continuing.

With ten laps remaining, the championship and race leader was 6.3 seconds ahead of McElrea.

Behind the leader in that battle for seventh, Abel faked to the outside before diving inside Frost and completing an impressive pass in Turn 9.

On Lap 26, Pedersen and Rasmussen, who were running fifth and sixth, were both in the run-off after Pedersen on the inside, locked up in the braking zone of Turn 9. Danish driver Pedersen could not get stopped but didn’t make the corner, blocking his countryman in the process.

With seven laps remaining, Robb took another look to the outside of his teammate on the run to Turn 9 but wisely tucked back behind the driver in second.

With five laps remaining, Robb’s engineer Ron Barhorst implored the Idahoan to ‘get his elbows out.’

With five laps remaining, McElrea and Robb made front wing (Robb) to left rear wheel (McElrea) contact as the drivers made the run over the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge towards Turn 9.

Race control announced that the interaction was under review, announcing a while later that no action was necessary.

On Lap 33, Robb turned the quickest lap of the race but was too far back to make serious inroads to the lead.

For the second time in the 30-lap race, the drivers in fifth and sixth came together. This time, Frost made an optimistic move down the inside of Abel in Turn 4, with both drivers coming to a stop.

Frost was penalized for avoidable contact with the penalty marked as pending.

Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix results

1 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 35 LAPS
2 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport -7.2221
3 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport -10.3944
4 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport -16.3765
5 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport -25.6394
6 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD -41.4944
7 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing -41.9224
8 21 Kyffin Simpson HMD Motorsports -42.5055
9 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports -72.8024
10 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing – 2 LAPS
11 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy -4 LAPS
12 11 James Roe HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing -14 LAPS

Indy Lights qual canceled – Lundqvist starts on pole – Pedersen loses out

By Steve Wittich

Linus Lundqvist on the 11-turn, 2.1-mile Nashville street circuit (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment- Joe Skibinski)

Unfortunately, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying will not occur due to an extended period of lightning.

The race line-up will be set via entrant points, which (if our math is correct) are as follows:

1 No. 26 – HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing Linus Lundqvist 383
2 No. 27 – Andretti Autosport Hunter McElrea 306
3 No. 2 – Andretti Autosport Sting Ray Robb 293
4 No. 83 – Andretti Autosport Matthew Brabham 289
5 No. 28 – Andretti Autosport Christian Rasmussen 272
6 No. 24 – Global Racing Group w/HMD Benjamin Pedersen 268
7 No. 68 – HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing Danial Frost 258
8 No. 51 – Abel Motorsports Jacob Abel 213
9 No. 99 – Force Indy Ernie Francis, Jr. 198
10 No. 7 – HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing Christian Bogle 192
11 No. 11 – HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing James Roe, Jr. 158
12 No. 21 – HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing Kyffin Simpson 19

The cancellation is unfortunate for Pedersen, who was much quicker than his competitors in both practice sessions.

It’s also unfortunate for the drivers chasing Lundqvist, who was only fourth quick during the two practice sessions.

The 35-lap Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix is scheduled for 12:10 pm (Central).

The view of Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group w/HMD) had for practice in Nashville (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – James Black)

Nashville Indy Lights Saturday Practice Notes and Results

By Patrick Stephan (@TSO_Patrick)

Benjamin Pedersen on track at the Music City Grand Prix. Penske Entertainment: Travis Hinkle

Steve Wittich spent this session on the radio broadcast, so I’ve jumped in to cover this session for the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires. As noted by everyone, it’s a little sticky with the high humidity and we started the session with the track at ambient temperature at 88F and the track at 104.7F.

Note that this morning, INDYCAR worked with the promoters here and they have opened run-off shortcut between turns 1 and 3.  Thus, if a driver misses Turn 1 and goes in to the run-off, they can zig zag around the tire barriers and rejoin the track at Turn 3.  Presuming that Indy Lights will utilize the same procedures as the NTT INDYCAR Series, drivers will lose their lap during practice and qualifying if they take the shortcut.

And if they do that in the race, they will need to make sure they do not gain a time/position advantage, and race control will monitor time lines to make sure no one advances by taking the run-off.

With 30 minutes to go in this Lights sessions, we have point leader Linus Lundqvist leading with a best lap of 1:21.6144, with Matthew Brabham just 0.1260 back. Sting Ray Robb is P3, then Hunter McElrea, Rasmussen, Abel, Bogle, Frost, Pedersen, Simpson, Francis, Jr. and Roe.

A couple minutes later, McElrea moved to P1, pushing Lundqvist to P2, then Brabham, Frost, Pedersen, Robb, Rasmussen, Abel, Bogle, Simpson, Roe, and Francis, Jr.

Matthew Brabham found the Turn 9 run off as he overshot the braking zone for the fastest corner on the track. It has been tightened up a little this year with the barriers pushed out further in to the corner, making that left turn a little sharper.

Davey Hamilton said on the broadcast that most of the corners on this circuit are actually 1st and 2nd gear turns. Considering we have a LOT of 90 degree turns here, that makes sense, but we also have a couple very long straightaway’s going over the bridge in each direction. Those of course end with heavy braking zones – where we expect most of the passing to occur this weekend.

Benjamin Pedersen turned a 1:21.4199 on his 11th lap to take the P1 spot, now followed by McElrea, Lundqvist, Brabham and Frost as we approached the final 15 minutes of the session.

Danial Frost found the Turn 10 run-off with 11 minutes remaining – and may have nosed into the tire barrier – with 11 minutes to go. He was able to get the car in to reverse and return to the circuit – with no major damage apparent. He was 6th at the time with a best lap of 1:21.7294, just 0.3701 off the fast time of Pedersen.

It is interesting to watch how much these cars are moving around as the cars bounce over the bumps.  Particularly in some higher speed sections like when they enter the Turn 4 on the other side of the Cumberland River.  Also we get a lot of shots of cars jumping sideways as drivers are under power and coming up the hill out of Turn 8 to come back to the stadium side of the course. After Turn 8, the road curves (but it’s not a “Turn”) and with the bumps as they move on to the bridge decking while taking that curve, we’re seeing quite a bit of movement and the drivers hard at work.

Benjamin Pedersen took P1 by 0.3080 with a minute to run, and then we had two separate incidents.

Sting Ray Robb hit the wall with the right side at what I believe was Turn 11 – the pit straight. A little behind him, Kyffin Simpson knocked the nose wing off his car (and probably some right side suspension damage) over at Turn 10.

The checkered would fall as the AMR INDYCAR Safety team was attending to Simpson to get him back to the pits. Robb was able to drive his car (with right side damage including a flat right rear tire) back to the pit exit.

Not a great way to end the session for either driver, but they’ll get them fixed in time for qualifying this afternoon at 2:40pm Central Time. Notably – there is a chance for a random shower/thunderstorm this afternoon, so there is no guarantee that session will be dry.

But, regardless, Pedersen was confident on the broadcast that he could remain fast in either wet or dry conditions.

Pos Car Driver Best Time Total Laps Best Lap Gap Team
1 24 Benjamin Pedersen 1:21.0820 22 20 0
Global Racing Group with HMD
2 27 Hunter McElrea 1:21.3900 24 14 0.308
Andretti Autosport
3 83 Matthew Brabham 1:21.3932 22 21 0.0032
Andretti Autosport
4 26 Linus Lundqvist 1:21.4379 20 19 0.0447
HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing
5 68 Danial Frost 1:21.4623 23 22 0.0244
HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing
6 51 Jacob Abel 1:21.5539 24 20 0.0916
Abel Motorsports
7 2 Sting Ray Robb 1:21.6634 22 16 0.1095
Andretti Autosport
8 28 Christian Rasmussen 1:21.8125 21 15 0.1491
Andretti Autosport
9 7 Christian Bogle 1:21.9303 21 17 0.1178
HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing
10 21 Kyffin Simpson 1:22.0831 21 20 0.1528
HMD Motorsports
11 99 Ernie Francis Jr. 1:22.6846 20 17 0.6015 Force Indy
12 11 James Roe 1:22.7164 18 10 0.0318
HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing


Benjamin Pedersen goes quickest in Indy Lights practice (by quite a bit)

Benjamin Pedersen led practice in Nashville (Photo courtesy of Penske Entertainment – Matt Fraver)

By Steve Wittich

A 50-minute practice for the Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix got the green flag a few minutes late at 2:04 pm. It’s the series’ first visit to the 11-turn, 2.1-mile Nashville street circuit, so the dozen entries quickly got to work, exploring the tight walls, bridge, and bumps of the challenging track.

The ambient temperature was a steamy 86F when the session started, but with significant cloud cover, the track temperature was 112.6F.

Early in practice, we rode along with Hunter McElrea, the winner of the last two races, as he methodically explored the circuit.

Sting Ray Robb, in the Sekady sponsored No. 2, was the first driver to make contact, lightly nosing into the tires on the other side of the bridge at Turn 4. However, he could back out and continue, coming to the attention of his Andretti Autosport crew and quickly getting back to work after a once over to ensure there was no damage.

The early leader in the session was Matthew Brabham, one of only two drivers to have laps here. The American/Australian pilot of the No. 83 Andretti Autosport machine made light right rear contact with the concrete barriers but kept getting quicker and quicker. Soon after, he did come to pit road so that his crew could check over his car.

Brabham, along with Jacob Abel, made a pair of starts in the Stadium Super Trucks Series, sharing the podium in the weekend’s second race.

While he was on pit road, with just over 30-minutes remaining, points leader Lundqvist lowered the top lap time to 83.1718 seconds (90.986mph), over four-tenths ahead of Brabham, who was back on track.

With a half-hour remaining, Lundqvist, Brabham, Benjamin Pedersen, Robb, and Kyffin Simpson were the top five.

Not long after, the HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing driver became the first driver to break the 83-second barrier.

With 26 minutes remaining in the session, Brabham and Ernie Francis, Jr. were the only drivers on track, as the rest were on pit road for adjustments and a fresh set of Cooper Tire slicks.

With 22 minutes remaining, Brabham went purple as the second driver to go under 83 seconds, lowering the top time on his 14th and 15th lap of practice.

Brabham and Lundqvist were in a different league, but behind them, the drivers from third to tenth were separated by only one second.

With 15-minutes remaining, Brabham’s top lap of 82.3457 seconds was over a half second ahead of Global Racing Group’s Pederson. The Dane was followed by Lundqvist, Abel, and Robb in the top five.

The camera followed the black and orange Dirtfish sponsored No. 24 of Pedersen as he went second quick, only three-hundredths slower than Brabham, as the field tightened up.

With ten minutes remaining, the top five were within three-tenths. In the last seven minutes, Pedersen and Lundqvist traded the top time numerous times.

With five minutes remaining in practice, Abel made contact, damaging the front wing of the No. 51 Abel Speedwagon. The Butler University student was able to make it back to pit road.

Pederson continued to go quicker, turning the only sub-82 second lap on his final lap of the session. His blazing lap was over four-tenths of a second quicker than Danial Frost (HMD Motorsports).

“Overall, this was a great way to start Practice 1, with being fastest,” Pedersen said. “We accomplished exactly what we had in our test plan, and this place is just awesome to drive. It really rewards being on the absolute ragged edge, and it’s just such a big commitment place. Really looking forward to tomorrow and continuing to push ourselves.”

Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix Practice Results

1 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group 81.8473 29
2 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 82.2616 -0.4143 18
3 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 82.3069 -0.4596 27
4 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 82.3188 -0.4715 29
5 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 82.3457 -0.4984 27
6 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 82.5222 -0.6749 24
7 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 82.5489 -0.7016 26
8 11 James Roe, Jr. HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 83.0465 -1.1992 29
9 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 83.1164 -1.2691 22
10 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 83.2822 -1.4349 24
11 21 Kyffin Simpson HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 83.3644 -1.5171 25
12 99 Ernie Francis, Jr. Force Indy 86.0251 -4.1778 23

Street circuit dominance

One-third of Lundqvist’s championship lead was forged in the first three street course races of the season. The 23-year-old won twice in Detroit and finished third in St. Petersburg, Fla., outscoring Brabham, the winner in the season opener, by 25 points.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires street course points after three races (St. Petersburg and Detroit twice)

1 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports 143
2 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 118
3 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/HMD 108
4 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 86
5 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports 80
6 Hunter McElrea – R Andretti Autosport 76
7 Antonio Serravalle Abel Motorsports/HMD Motorsports 76
8 Kyffin Simpson – R TJ Speed Motorsports 75
9 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports 70
10 Ernie Francis, Jr. – R Force Indy 68
11 James Roe, Jr. – R TJ Speed Motorsports 65
12 Christian Rasmussen – R Andretti Autosport 55
13 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 54
14 Ryan Phinny Abel Motorsports 43
15 Manuel Sulaiman HMD Motorsports 28

Who’s hot

After winning four of the first six races, championship leader Lundqvist has ‘cooled’ down, or maybe, the better way to put it is that he is managing his championship lead.

When the series left the Motor City, the driver of the No. 26 HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing machine, who won both races in Detroit, had a 92-point lead over Sting Ray Robb. Over the next three races, the Swede scored the fifth most points, but his lead, this time over Robb’s Andretti Autosport teammate Hunter McElrea was still a substantial 77 points, with Robb 90 points back.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires points scored in the last three races.

1 Hunter McElrea – R Andretti Autosport 143
2 Christian Rasmussen – R Andretti Autosport 125
3 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 103
4 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 102
5 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports 100
6 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 77
7 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/HMD 69
8 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports 67
9 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports 64
10 Ernie Francis, Jr. – R Force Indy 64
11 Kyffin Simpson – R TJ Speed Motorsports 63
12 James Roe, Jr. – R TJ Speed Motorsports 61
13 Antonio Serravalle Abel Motorsports/HMD Motorsports 59
14 Ryan Phinny Abel Motorsports 0
15 Manuel Sulaiman HMD Motorsports 0

Of note:

A pair of former Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires rivals, Spencer Pigot and Zach Veach, are back in the Indy Lights paddock. Pigot has been working with Abel for much of the season, while Veach recently came on board to help rookie Francis, Jr.

The series is back for their second practice at 10:15 am.

McElrea inherits Iowa Indy Lights win after Lundqvist, Brabham collide

It wasn’t how he drew it up, but Hunter McElrea wins again in Iowa. Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

By Tony DiZinno

While the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires record books will show Andretti Autosport rookie Hunter McElrea delivered a pole-to-win result at Iowa Speedway in 2022 and in his Indy Lights oval debut, the way it occurred was not straightforward at all.

McElrea inherited the victory in his No. 27 Smart Motors-supported entry following a post-race decision assessed to championship leader Linus Lundqvist, who won on the road but was penalized three spots by Race Control for avoidable contact with Matthew Brabham. 

The decision moved Lundqvist from first to fourth, behind a a trio of Andretti entries with McElrea the new provisional race winner, Christian Rasmussen up to second and Brabham holding onto third despite a damaged race car.

Conditions were already significantly hotter than the morning qualifying session. It was 84F and 94F ambient and track at the 0.894-mile speedway while the race started at 11:15 a.m. CT at 92F and 116F, respectively, with track temps surpassing 120F as the race progressed.

From pole, McElrea led the opening 40 laps, stretching his lead to nearly 2 seconds in clear air but losing most of the gap once he encountered the tail end of traffic in the 13-car field. McElrea had one moment where Lundqvist charged at him but was unable to fully complete the pass. Lundqvist’s lost momentum exiting Turn 4 briefly sent him back into the clutches of Brabham and Sting Ray Robb, who were battling for third.  

The race complexion changed upon the first and only full-course caution of the race, with James Roe’s No. 12 TJ Speed Motorsports entry veering right into the Turn 1 SAFER barrier with what appeared to be a cut right front tire. Roe emerged unscathed from the car but the same couldn’t be said for the lone remaining TJ Speed entry in the Indy Lights field, which sustained heavy right side damage. 

McElrea led Lundqvist, Brabham, who’d advanced from eighth on the grid up to third, Robb and Rasmussen

HMD Motorsports team manager A.J. Smith told Georgia Henneberry on the Peacock broadcast about Lundqvist’s hopes against McElrea, “As his tires fall off, we should be able to get around him.”

The pass came sooner than anticipated. McElrea’s car washed up the road exiting Turn 4 just at the restart on Lap 50, and Lundqvist darted through to the inside to take the lead. Brabham scythed through just behind and put himself in a good position to save the day for Andretti Autosport as McElrea’s race, in theory, went away. 

With 10 laps to go on Lap 65, Lundqvist held off Brabham by just about three tenths of a second with McElrea third, Rasmussen fourth and Robb fifth, with Jacob Abel having done well to move into sixth ahead of Danial Frost, Ernie Francis Jr., Benjamin Pedersen and Christian Bogle in the top 10. Pedersen had had a fraught race up to that point, including a lurid slide through Turns 1 and 2 where he caught his No. 24 Global Racing Group with HMD entry while commencing a drift at full opposite lock. 

The defining moment of the race occurred on Lap 71 on the back straight, with less than 5 laps to go. Lundqvist held the low line through Turns 1 and 2 with Brabham seeing another opportunity to get by on the high line. He’d tried a couple laps earlier and went for the lead in Turns 3 and 4 but washed up and lost two tenths.

On this instance, Brabham had the momentum and worked to position his car alongside. Lundqvist ran up the road and pinched Brabham’s front wing, knocking it out of alignment and costing Brabham any hopes at victory. From there, he was just hoping to run the final few laps without a visit to the pits.

Lundqvist won on the road by 3.4258 seconds from McElrea, Rasmussen and Brabham – he’d dropped from second to fourth on the final lap with a 130.9 mph lap compared to 145 mph plus for the top three – and Robb in fifth.

Immediately after the checkered flag, Race Control flashed a “results are pending” message with an indication a decision was imminent.

Peacock cameras caught Lundqvist and Brabham talking to each other in pit lane after stopping their cars, explaining their views of the contact. Both then talked to Henneberry in the moment before Race Control issued their decision.

“It was a close fight. We were both fast and fighting through for the win,” said Lundqvist, driver of the Jula-backed No. 26 car for HMD with Dale Coyne Racing. “I got loose, I got a clear from my spotter, and unfortunately my rear touched his front nose. It’s inch perfect on ovals. I put my trust in the spotter. Sorry to them for the incident. But we got a win.”

Brabham offered his perspective: “Obviously my perspective is I got drove in the wall. I deserved to win. I was biding my time. We were catching traffic. I was best in traffic. He was struggling. I took the high line, he took the low line, he committed to going low, then tried to block for the next corner. I took the top lane. He figured out, ‘Oh maybe I don’t want to get the top.’ His spotter cleared him. But you still have mirrors end of the day. Just a disappointing end to the race. The way it goes sometimes. I was the car to beat today. Qual car was terrible, but we made up for it.”

McElrea was second on the road and initially beating himself up over losing the lead on the restart before the mood changed upon being told he won the race. 

“I loved it. Great weekend. Pretty disappointed right now. Matty drove through the field. He kinda got screwed at the end. That restart. Man I don’t know what I did. Not good enough to get in the marbles.”

Once told he’d won the race, he replied, “It’s not how I want to get it obviously. I’ll take it! I definitely needed to prove it. I’ll take that.”

The series is off next week before resuming at Nashville in two weeks’ time for its debut at that track. There are four races remaining in the 2022 season, with events at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and then the West Coast run at Portland International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to come. 

Lundqvist’s drop to fourth place in the race results made a small but not insignificant impact on the points standings.

With the win, he would have led McElrea by 105, Robb by 108 and Brabham by 115. After the drop, those gaps are 77, 90 and 94 points, respectively.

McElrea’s second straight win propels him to second points, as he climbed two spots this weekend. 

Indy Lights at Iowa Speedway – Unofficial Results

1 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 75
2 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 75 1.2171
3 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 75 1.6030
4 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 75 2.5742
5 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 75 4.0216
6 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 75 7.7754
7 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 75 8.5442
8 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 75 14.1510
9 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 75 16.1584
10 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 75 17.4177
11 21 Kyffin Simpson HMD Motorsports 75 18.2995
12 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 73 Running
13 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 40 Contact

Hunter McElrea grabs pole in first Indy Lights oval start

Hunter McElrea on track at the Iowa Speedway (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)

By Steve Wittich

For the third time in nine Indy Lights races, Andretti Autosport rookie Hunter McElrea will have a clear view into Turn 1.

McElrea was one of three drivers to average over 159mph, putting together a consistent two-lap effort that averaged 159.503mph.

The pole win is the 22-year-old’s 12th career Road To Indy pole.

An Andretti Autosport driver has now won the pole for seven of the 11 Indy Lights races held at the Iowa Speedway.

McElrea had to survive the qualifying attempts of three drivers, including teammate Sting Ray Robb and points leader Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), the other drivers who averaged over 159mph.

Lundqvist’s two-lap average was 0.164mph behind McElrea and will start outside the front row.

Robb, who trails Lundqvist in the championship, will start behind his teammate inside the second row. The Sekady sponsored driver will have Danial Frost (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) starting outside him.

Saturday at the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway oval began with bright sun, humidity, and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying.

When the green flag flew at 8:30 am, and the first driver, Kyffin Simpson (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), took to the track for his two laps, the ambient temperature was 84F, and the track temperature was 94F.

The drivers qualified in reverse order of the entrant standings, meaning Linus Lundqvist, with an 87-point championship lead, was the last driver to qualify.

Christian Bogle (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), the third driver to take to the track, went almost three mph quicker than Simpson to grab the provisional pole. He told INDYCAR Radio that they didn’t change the car between Friday practice and qualifying.

Force Indy’s Ernie Francis, Jr. in the No. 99 was the fourth driver on the track, slotting in between Bogle and Simpson. He told INDYCAR Radio that they made improvements overnight and that he was happy with the effort.

Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), who is being coached this year by 2015 Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot and is being engineered by Tim Neff, a championship winner himself, grabbed the provisional pole. He told INDYCAR Radio that it was a different experience to get up early and hang it all on the line in an early qualifying session. Abel will start on the outside of the third row.

HMD Motorsports veteran Danial Frost utilized the low line, grabbing the provisional pole as the first driver to go over 158mph.

Christian Rasmussen, an Indy Lights oval rookie, was consistent but not fast enough to knock Frost from the top spot. When he talked to INDYCAR Radio, he didn’t think much was left in the car. The Dane will start from the fifth spot.

McElrea was the tenth driver to qualify and the first to go faster than 159mph.

His Andretti Autosport teammate Matthew Brabham, fast throughout Friday practice, didn’t have the same speed, turning in only the eighth quickest two-lap average. The third-generation racer told the INDYCAR Radio Network that with a similar compound rule to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES (essentially, you race what you qualify), his team opted for more downforce for the 75-lap race.

McElrea’s teammate Robb was the second last driver with a chance to knock the American-born Kiwi from the pole. The Idahoan was the second driver to turn a lap over 159mph but was not quite as quick as his teammate.

Championship leader Lundqvist, the last driver with a chance to steal the pole from McElrea, was close on his first lap, but the Swede couldn’t quite get it done on his last lap.

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