Linus Lundqvist. Photo courtesy: Penske Entertainment: Matt Fraverqvist

By Tony DiZinno

As the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires descends on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, the HMD Motorsports pair of Linus Lundqvist (HMD with Dale Coyne Racing) and Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group with HMD) sit 1-2 in the championship – as they finished last race at Barber Motorsports Park – separated by nine points. St. Pete winner Matthew Brabham is lurking in third for Andretti Autosport, 12 points back.

Brabham led an Andretti 1-2 in the morning practice session, ahead of Hunter McElrea and Pedersen. Danial Frost and Sting Ray Robb completed the top five, ahead of Christian Rasmussen and Lundqvist down in seventh.

Lundqvist’s qualifying session on Friday got off to a rough start with a flat tire leaving the pits. The HMD with Coyne team changed all four Cooper Tires after he limped back around from a slow lap, putting on a set of stickers after running scuffs to being the session.

McElrea was first in the 1:16 bracket with Frost, Robb, Pedersen and Rasmussen in tow all in the low 1:17s.

Lundqvist overcame his early issues with a 1:16.7711 on the stickers to move to provisional pole over McElrea with just under 15 minutes remaining.

The two drivers both improved their times in the second half of the session, but the positions didn’t change.

This marks Lundqvist’s second pole in a row and fifth in his career, and as he reflected post-qualifying with IndyCar Radio’s Ryan Myrehn, he knew he dodged a bullet with the flat tire.

“I was a little bit lucky because it was my first set of tires… everyone went faster on the second,” he said. “But it was almost like an oval setup (when I left the pits)! It started to steer by itself. I wondered if the wheel would come loose. I brought it back around. The guys kept their cool, changed it and we did that.

“I hope it is behind me. It’s such a long way into Turn 1. We have put ourselves in the best position.”

McElrea remains in search of his first win and will look to achieve that from P2 on the grid.

“Obviously it’s a good result, and I can’t be too disappointed,” he told IndyCar Radio’s Rob Blackmon. “But I’m here to win, and I really want to make the most of this opportunity, and I made mistakes on both my laps. Luckily, on the front row! We have a really good car. I love being here at Indy. I just really wanted the pole. Although I was on pole in St. Pete and didn’t win.

“I got in the limiter one lap, and got a little bit too much curb. The second, I just locked the rears. Racing, right? I definitely could have done a better job. I can’t be too devastated. Let’s see what we can do this afternoon!”

Rasmussen, Frost and Brabham complete the top five with Robb sixth and Pedersen seventh. Antonio Serravalle, in his first weekend with the HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing team, was a solid eighth ahead of Jacob Abel and Ernie Francis Jr.

Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Qualifying, Race #1

P No Name Team FTime Diff
1 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:16.3362 1:16.3362
2 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1:16.3790 0.0428
3 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 1:16.5182 0.1820
4 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:16.5817 0.2455
5 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 1:16.6099 0.2737
6 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 1:16.6944 0.3582
7 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 1:16.7820 0.4458
8 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:17.0126 0.6764
9 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:17.0883 0.7521
10 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 1:17.2172 0.8810
11 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:17.3608 1.0246
12 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 1:17.5250 1.1888
13 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 1:17.6126 1.2764
14 61 Ryan Phinny Abel Motorsports 1:17.9234 1.5872