By Steve Wittich
Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) matched a dominant morning qualifying session with a flag to flag victory in the first of two Indy Lights Detroit Grand Prix races in Detroit, Mich. The 23-year-old has now scored ‘max points’ in three of five races to start the 2022 season and has a substantial 58-point lead heading into tomorrow’s race.
“We’re here to win races, which this is the best way to try to win it (the championship), explained Lundqvist. “At this stage, it’s perfect for both me and the team.
“We had great qualifying and were able to win the race today. They (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing team) gave me a good car, and, yeah, I tried to stay out of trouble.
“But, yeah, it was a good day!”
The most significant margin of victory (3.7232 seconds) in an Indy Lights race on Belle Isle is the Swede’s third Indy Lights win of the season and the sixth in his 25-race old career.
The win increases Lundqvist’s North American win percentage to 50% (21 wins in 42 races across Indy Lights and Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered By Honda.
It’s the 15th Indy Lights win for HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing. Fourteen of those have come in the past two seasons.
Lundqvist is the eighth driver in 13 Indy Lights races held on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit to get a flag by flag win.
Global Racing Group veteran Benjamin Pedersen is still looking for his first career Indy Lights win, but his consistency has led to his seventh podium in his last 13 Indy Lights starts.
“Yeah, good day,” said Pedersen. “It was fun to do the ‘push to pass’ system. I was getting used to that. We’re definitely going to look at how to optimize that better for the future. Really good points. Happy with that.
“Yeah, just looking forward to tomorrow.”
In the second qualifying, Pedersen broke a drive shaft, meaning he’ll start tomorrow’s 30-lap main event in the 13th spot.
The podiums for Linus Lundqvist and Benjamin Pedersen are the 49th and 50th for HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing/Global Racing Group. They now have five podiums on bucolic Belle Isle.
Matthew Brabham (Andretti Autosport) took advantage of some other driver’s misfortune to grab his second podium of the 2022 season. It’s his sixth Indy Lights podium, and the number 36 in 58 Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires starts.
“It was a wild race but obviously, to come home P3 from where we started in sixth was great,” said Brabham. “Obviously, it’s a bumpy track, and there were a lot of people having issues out there, so I was just able to capitalize on those and bring it home safely. We have so much speed, and it’s disappointing we’re starting so far back because I think we have a car to run up the front, if not be the fastest car on track, so great job by the Andretti team, Master Mine, all of my sponsors and everyone for the result and we’ll get them tomorrow.”
It’s Andretti Autosport’s fourth podium at this event.
Christian Bogle, who was making his 25th career Indy Lights start, finished the 25-lap race in the fourth spot. The best career finish for the 21-year-old who didn’t begin racing until he was 18.
Kyffin Simpson, a TJ Speed Motorsports rookie, has had a sneaky solid start to his 2022 season. It’s his second top-five of the year, and
The front row of Lundqvist and Pedersen brought the field to the green flag for the first of 25 laps on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit.
The field got cleanly through the first lap, with Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) and Ernie Francis, Jr. (Force Indy) both gaining one spot on the first lap.
The running order after the first lap was Lundqvist, Pedersen, Sting Ray Robb (Andretti Autosport), Danial Frost (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), Hunter McElrea (Andretti Autosport), Abel, Brabham, Christian Rasmussen (Andretti Autosport), Francis, Jr., James Roe, Jr. (TJ Speed Motorsports), Christian Bogle (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), Simpson, Antonio Serravalle (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) and Ryan Phinny (Abel Motorsports).
The field got cleanly through the first two laps, but as they completed the second lap, race control announced that Francis, Jr. must give back a spot to Simpson after being penalized for blocking.
On Lap 3, in Turn 7, the Crosley sponsored No. 51 was in the tires at the exit of Turn 7. Upon replay, Rasmussen got loose and made contact with Abel. The reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion was penalized for avoidable contact and took the restart at the back of the pack.
When the caution came out, Lundqvist’s lead was already a comfortable 2.8 seconds.
The race restarted on Lap 6, with Lundqvist getting a good jump over Pedersen and Robb. Meanwhile, just outside the podium, McElrea made a brave outside pass, getting by Frost for fourth.
Ernie Francis, Jr., from eighth, came to pit road, dropping down to 13th.
Frost and Brabham had an incident in Turn 7 on Lap 7 that came under a review from race control. They decided that no action was necessary.
Rasmussen had gained three spots in the first two laps after the restart, moving to eighth.
Unlike the start of the race, Lundqvist could not pull as big of a gap, holding a 1.5-second lead over Pederson after ten laps. Pedersen’s gap over Robb was a half-second. McElrea and Frost rounded out the top five.
On Lap 11, Bogle and Rasmussen got around Roe, who was quickly under attack from Simpson.
On the next lap, the pair were battling in Turn 3, with Roe getting loose at the corner exit and moving quickly to cover
At the halfway flags, Robb attempted a move around the outside Turn 7. Unfortunately, the No. 2 got loose, with the left rear smacking the tire barrier at the exit of the left-hand turn. He got back to pit road, and the Andretti Autosport was able to get him back on track to salvage a few more points.
“Well, Race One done here at Detroit,” explained the Idahoan, who had a three-race podium streak come to an end. “Man, we had a really fast race car. I was going for P2 around Pedersen down in Turn 7 and got a little loose on the exit and touched the wall. It had a little damage to the left rear, but the team got it back together and got it back out on track. We made up a few positions but obviously not the day that we could’ve had. Definitely one of the fastest cars on the racetrack, and had we kept it together, we may have had a shot at the win, so we’re going into tomorrow starting P2. Looking to get a good jump on the start, hopefully, go into P1 and just lead the whole race.”
With ten laps remaining, the running order was Lundqvist, Pedersen, McElrea, Frost, Brabham, Rasmussen, Bogle, Simpson, Roe, Phinney, Serravalle, Robb, Francis, Jr., and Abel.
Lundqvist’s lead was a comfortable 4.4 seconds over Pedersen. The Swede also held a 50-second push-to-pass advantage.
On Lap 16, McElrea, who was in the final podium position, locked the rear tires in the braking zone at the end of The Strand in Turn 7. The car inexplicably turned left into the wall, damaging the rear wing and forcing the Kiwi to pit road.
On Lap 17, the yellow flag flew from the timing stand for the second time. This time, it was for a heavily damaged No. 28 of Rasmussen, who stopped on track after pancaking the right side at the exit of Turn 5. His damaged machine came to a stop in Turn 6.
“I was really coming at it towards the end as I was catching the top three there for a little bit,” said the reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion. “I pushed a little too much and unfortunately put the car into the wall. It’s so unforgiving here at Detroit with the bumps and the walls, it’s such a little margin for error, but we’re starting P4 for tomorrow, so hopefully, we can turn that around and have a good result because I think the pace was good.”
The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team worked quickly to clear the debris and damaged car, and the green flag came out with four laps remaining.
The leaders had the following push-to-pass remaining.
Lundqvist – 70 seconds
Pedersen – 34 seconds
Frost – 50 seconds
Lundqvist got another significant jump, but Frost and Brabham were fighting for the final spot on the podium behind the front two.
They went side-by-side in Turn 7 before Brabham wisely dropped in behind Frost before they got to Turn 8.
Frost was slow through the final four corners on the second last lap, falling down the order and hitting pit road. TSO Ladder confirmed with the team that the Singaporean driver lost a drive shaft.
Lundqvist had a 3.4 second when he got the white flag, but Brabham wasn’t done, turning his quickest lap of the race on Lap 24 and putting pressure on Pedersen.
Indy Lights Detroit Grand Prix Results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|1||26||Linus Lundqvist||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||1:23.0122||25 LAPS|
|2||24||Benjamin Pedersen||Global Racing Group with HMD||1:23.2882||-3.7232|
|3||83||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport||1:23.0768||-4.7936|
|4||7||Christian Bogle||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||1:24.3234||-10.2362|
|5||21||Kyffin Simpson||TJ Speed Motorsports||1:24.2220||-10.8649|
|6||11||Antonio Serravalle||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||1:23.3559||-11.4164|
|7||12||James Roe||TJ Speed Motorsports||1:27.3394||-16.481|
|8||61||Ryan Phinny||Abel Motorsports||1:25.9989||-20.8913|
|9||99||Ernie Francis, Jr.||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||2:07.7071||-1 LAP|
|10||68||Danial Frost||HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing||2:07.7071||-2 LAPS|
|11||2||Sting Ray Robb||Andretti Autosport||1:25.2442||-2 LAPS|
|12||27||Hunter McElrea||Andretti Autosport||1:25.0592||-3 LAPS|
|13||28||Christian Rasmussen||Andretti Autosport||1:22.8957||-8 LAPS|
|14||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||1:27.4948||-23 LAPS|
Indy Lights points standings after five races
|1||Linus Lundqvist||HMD Motorsports||229|
|2||Benjamin Pedersen||Global Racing Group w/HMD||171|
|3||Danial Frost||HMD Motorsports||161|
|4||Sting Ray Robb||Andretti Autosport||156|
|5||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport||154|
|6||Christian Rasmussen – R||Andretti Autosport||130|
|7||Hunter McElrea – R||Andretti Autosport||123|
|8||Antonio Serravalle||Abel Motorsports/HMD Motorsports||121|
|9||Kyffin Simpson – R||TJ Speed Motorsports||121|
|10||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||118|
|11||Ernie Francis, Jr. – R||Force Indy||114|
|12||Christian Bogle||HMD Motorsports||112|
|13||James Roe, Jr. – R||TJ Speed Motorsports||94|
|14||Ryan Phinny||Abel Motorsports||58|
|15||Manuel Sulaiman||HMD Motorsports||48|