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
|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.
|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|