The Honda Performance Development/Global Racing Group/FX Airguns/Paytrim/JULA sponsored No. 26 IL-15 on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography/Road to Indy

By Steve Wittich

If you looked at the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Thursday testing, practice, and qualifying results, you wouldn’t know that Linus Lundqvist was making his first appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 22-year-old Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports driver will start on the pole for the second time this season. Between the Swede and his teammate David Malukas, the Brownsburg, Ind.-based team has won four of the five poles to start the 2021 season.

Lundqvist’s quickest lap of the session was timed at 75.0978 seconds, just over a-tenth-of-a-second quicker than Juncos Racing veteran Toby Sowery. Sowery, Malukas, and St. Petersburg winner Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport) were all within 0.06 seconds and will start second, third, and fourth, respectively.

The entire baker’s dozen drivers were within one second.

The first of two Indy Lights qualifying sessions of the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires weekend got the green flag at 8:35 am. The half-hour session was held under a cloudless Hoosier sky with brisk temperatures that struggled to reach 50F.

Early in the session, Megennis, Malukas, and Lundqvist held the provisional pole for at least one lap.

The first driver to crack the 76-second barrier was Toby Sowery. Malukas and Lundqvist quickly joined the veteran in that club.

At the halfway point of the session, the drivers had turned between seven and nine laps.

With a lap timed at 75.7346 seconds, Lundqvist was the quickest of the baker’s dozen drivers, but the field was tight. The top eight were all within a half-second of Lundqvist as the field made their way to pit road for fresh Cooper Tire slicks and adjustment from their crew.

Following Lundqvist on the timing screens were Sowery, Malukas, DeFrancesco, Alex Peroni (Carlin), Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport), Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport), Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport), Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing), Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group w/HMD), Christian Bogle (Carlin), Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing), and Nikita Lastochkin (HMD Motorsports).

The first driver to get their sticky new Cooper Tire slicks in the optimal temperature range was Frost, who quickly moved to the second spot on the timing screens.

On his next flying lap, his 13th of the session,
Frost grabbed the provisional pole. The Singaporean’s time on the provisional pole didn’t last long.

The laps times started to drop quickly with each time the drivers crossed the timing line just before Turn 12, with Peroni, Malukas, and Lundqvist all holding the provisional pole in the final five minutes of the session.

Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented By Cooper Tires qualifying #1

1 26 Linus Lundqvist Global Racing Group w/HMD Motorsports 1:15.0978 ——
2 51 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 1:15.2204 0.1226
3 79 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1:15.2637 0.1659
4 28 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1:15.2846 0.1868
5 5 Alex Peroni Carlin 1:15.4630 0.3652
6 68 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1:15.4915 0.3937
7 17 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1:15.6005 0.5027
8 2 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1:15.6773 0.5795
9 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group wHMD Motorsports 1:15.7163 0.6185
10 27 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1:15.7986 0.7008
11 59 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 1:15.9190 0.8212
12 11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1:15.9308 0.8330
13 7 Christian Bogle Carlin 1:16.0570 0.9592

The first Indy Lights race is set to roll off at 2:10 pm.