Archives for 2022 Indy Lights Coverage

Indy Lights moves to Firestone tires for 2023 Season

By Steve Wittich

After a nine-year hiatus, Firestone and INDYCAR have announced that the Akron, Ohio manufacturer will return to become the sole tire for the Indy Lights series in 2023. The announcement came at the grand opening of Firestone’s Advanced Tire Production Cente as part of an expanded partnership with INDYCAR.

“We look forward to expanding our partnership with INDYCAR to supply tires for Indy Lights starting in 2023,” said Lisa Boggs, Director of Motorsports, Bridgestone Americas. “We know the importance this series has for technology advancement and driver development and are proud to be a part of the journey.”

Bridgestone brands Firestone and Dayton supplied tires for the top rung of the Road To Indy for 23 seasons between 1991 and 2013. Goodyear was the tire supplier for the first five seasons, while Cooper joined the series in 2014 and is in their ninth season with Indy Lights.

One of the many previous Firestone Indy Lights logos

“We want to thank Cooper Tires, who has been a partner with Indy Lights since 2014,” said Indy Lights Director Levi Jones. “Their assistance while INDYCAR assumed operational control was crucial to our success. With Firestone, we cannot wait to begin this new era, which will align the entire INDYCAR paddock and help our rising stars reach their goal of competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”

The Indy Lights teams and drivers have had closer integration with INDYCAR in 2022, including paddocking with NTT INDYCAR SERIES and receiving marketing support from Penske Entertainment. Partnering with Firestone adds to that integration.

“Firestone continues to be a phenomenal partner,” said INDYCAR President Jay Frye. “We are proud to see that our relationship is expanding into supplying tires for both of our series. Their attention to detail, safety and performance is unmatched. Supplying their world-class product to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights reflects Firestone’s commitment to INDYCAR’s present and future.”

The premier American junior open-wheel series began life in 1986 as the American Racing Series and has produced 34 Indy car race winners.

Those 34 American Racing Series/Indy Lights graduates have won 267 Indy car races since Paul Tracy became the first graduate to win a race in 1993. Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon is the most successful of the Indy Lights alumni. The 2000 series champion has won an astounding 51 Indy car races and trails only A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti on the all-time list.

Recent Indy Lights graduates that have won an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race include Colton Herta, Felix Rosenqvist, Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay), and Pato O’Ward.

HMD Motorsports veteran Linus Lundqvist currently leads the points as Indy Lights heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. You can the eighth race of the season at 10:35 am (Eastern) on Peacock Premium or the INDYCAR Radio Network at Indycar.com or the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.

Rasmussen joins list of winners in all 3 Road to Indy series; leads Andretti Indy Lights podium sweep at Road America

Christian Rasmussen celebrates maiden Indy Lights win at Road America. Penske Entertainment: Travis Hinkle

By Tony DiZinno

The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires hit the halfway point of its season Sunday at Road America with a race in two parts, for somehow, the second time in the last month. 

But the race ended with a 10th different driver to win on all three rungs of the Road to Indy ladder, in the form of Dane Christian Rasmussen. The driver of the No. 28 Road to Indy/Stellrecht Dallara IL-15 for Andretti Autosport banked his first Indy Lights win in the restarted event.  Bob Stellrecht, a longtime supporter of Andretti Autosport and the Road to Indy, joined Rasmussen and the Andretti team in victory lane at the 4.014-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis. as the team swept the podium. 

Six of the previous nine drivers with wins in all three Road to Indy ladder series have made at least one NTT INDYCAR Series start, so the odds bode well for Rasmussen going forward.

YEAR DRIVER
2022 Christian Rasmussen
2021 Kyle Kirkwood
2019 Oliver Askew
2019 Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay)
2018 Victor Franzoni
2017 Aaron Telitz
2016 Nico Jamin
2015 Spencer Pigot
2014 Matthew Brabham
2013 Sage Karam

The first nine laps ran with three full course cautions, capped off by the Christian Bogle incident at Turn 5 that brought out a red flag and necessitated fence repairs. This also pushed the race back to after the NTT INDYCAR Series Sonsio Grand Prix. You can view that full report here. 

A warmer track greeted competitors for the final 11 laps. The remaining 11 cars did a single lap under caution and got the green at the end of Lap 10.

There were a couple changes to the running order, though. With the cars placed in impound rather than back in the tents, a couple cars incurred penalties for making changes. 

Kyffin Simpson’s TJ Speed Motorsports group changed its left front tire and the front wing. Benjamin Pedersen’s Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports team changed the left rear wishbone after his eventful first half of the race. 

Meanwhile Matthew Brabham was sent to the rear of the field for blocking Pedersen in the first half. That incident had been under review by Race Control prior to the red flag.

Rasmussen made the bold move that ultimately made the difference right on the restart on Lap 10. He darted to the outside of leader, polesitter and Andretti Autosport teammate Sting Ray Robb going into Turn 1 to try to make his pass stick, and he did. 

Danial Frost went off course into the gravel past Turn 3, but he made it out on the other side.

Rasmussen leads his three Andretti Autosport teammates. Penske Entertainment: James Black

At the end of Lap 11, Rasmussen led Robb, Hunter McElrea, Linus Lundqvist, and Jacob Abel. Brabham recovered to sixth ahead of James Roe, Frost, and Simpson.

On Lap 12, Rasmussen held just a 0.4712 of a second lead over Robb, while Abel was working to hold back Brabham for fifth.

The best battle on the track became McElrea versus Lundqvist for third. They got close into Turn 5 on Lap 16 and then a lap later, Lundqvist had a big run into Turn 1 to try on the outside, but it didn’t work.

Up front, Rasmussen extended the gap over Robb while McElrea kept Lundqvist at bay by way of a push-to-pass time advantage. 

About the only thing Rasmussen had go wrong today was on his cooldown lap when he lost the back end exiting Turn 5. He spun back around and resumed, and headed back all good into victory lane.  

The win is the 20th in Rasmussen’s Road to Indy career across all three series.

Rasmussen started third. All 15 Indy Lights races at Road America have featured a winner that started in the top four positions. But of those 15, only three times has the polesitter won. Robb, who finished second, acknowledged that post-race. 

Lundqvist, whose winning streak of three straight races came to an end, finished fourth in a steady drive that kept his championship lead well intact.

Unofficially, Lundqvist holds an 82-point lead over Robb (315-233) with Pedersen third, 97 back, and the only other driver within 100 points. Frost in fourth (100 back) and Brabham in fifth (101 back) are triple-digits in arrears. Rasmussen’s win moved him past McElrea for sixth.

Some testing comes next for the series before its next race, July 3 at 11:30 a.m. EDT, at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Indy Lights GP at Road America – Unofficial Race Results

P No Name Team Laps Diff
1 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 20 LAP 20
2 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 20 2.3573
3 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 20 6.1310
4 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 20 6.8120
5 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 20 10.7062
6 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 20 12.6208
7 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 20 18.8083
8 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 20 19.6014
9 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 20 34.6822
10 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 19 1 LAPS
11 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 19 1 LAPS
12 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 8 Contact
13 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 5 Mechanical

Indy Lights Race Paused til 2:15 p.m. for Fence Repairs at Road America; Robb Leads With 9 Laps Complete

By Tony DiZinno

The seventh round of the 2022 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season at Road America will mirror the fourth round at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course: it’s got a mid-race pause following a red flag.

The difference on this occasion is that the IMS road course delay was weather-enforced due to lightning in the area. This one was due to an incident at Turn 5, with Christian Bogle’s car hitting the entrance curbing in the center, launching nose first into the catch fencing and proceeding to tear down a section of the fence.

Bogle got out of his No. 7 Pelican Energy Dallara IL-15 for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing OK, but work began immediately to diagnose and repair the fence section. Bogle was seen and released from the infield medical center following the incident. 

Christian Bogle’s incident at Turn 5 caused a red flag. Penske Entertainment: Travis Hinkle

With a time-certain window of 12:30 p.m. EDT / 11:30 a.m. CDT and local time for today’s Sonsio Grand Prix At Road America race for the NTT INDYCAR Series, prioritization was made to ensure repairs took place in the run-up to the race. 

Indy Lights Race Control reported at 10:20 a.m. CDT local time: “The race will not resume in its current window. Cars will be brought back to the fuel area near INDYCAR Tech Inspection for impound. Resumption info will be published soon.” 

This was an immediate change from an initial communication where teams were to return to their tents. By changing from their tents to impound, this will allow the teams to tear down their tents.

At 10:48 p.m. CDT, IndyCar and Indy Lights confirmed a restart time of 2:15 p.m. for this race. Radical Cup and Vintage Indy Registry action shift to 3:05 and 4:05 p.m., respectively. 

Race Recap Through 9 Laps 

Before the red flag, it was a pretty eventful first nine laps. 

The Andretti Autosport quartet of Sting Ray Robb, Hunter McElrea, Christian Rasmussen and Matthew Brabham started up front ahead of three of the five HMD with DCR cars: Danial Frost, Linus Lundqvist and Benjamin Pedersen.

The opening lap featured Rasmussen darting to the inside of Robb into Turn 1, moving into the lead and appearing to push Robb off the road on corner exit. Brabham moved up to third, with McElrea fourth. Behind them Pedersen was working to get around the outside of Frost for fifth at Turn 6, having already passed Lundqvist. Brabham’s lap then featured an off-road excursion at Turn 7, and fell in behind Jacob Abel. Ernie Francis Jr. attempted to advance but went into the back of Frost. He caromed off the course and into the gravel through Turn 8. 

Pedersen, meanwhile, went around Abel on the outside through the Kink. That was the last move complete before Race Control called a full-course caution to retrieve Francis.

So after the eventful Lap 1, the order was Rasmussen, Robb, McElrea, Brabham, Pedersen, Abel, Frost, Lundqvist, Bogle, Serravalle, Roe and Simpson with Francis Jr. into pits for a new front wing and two new front Cooper Tires.

The restart occurred at the start of Lap 4 with more action.

McElrea overshot the apex of Turn 1, with Brabham moving by on the inside into Turn 3. Pedersen locked up to avoid contact. McElrea late tried on the outside of Brabham into Turn 5 and was unable to complete the pass, and three corners later ran wide at Turn 8. That moved Pedersen up to fourth. After the fracas, McElrea radioed in to ask if he had damage to his front wing, but it appeared all good.

At Lap 5, Rasmussen led Robb by 0.647 of a second with Brabham, Pedersen and McElrea still in the top five ahead of Abel,  Frost and Lundqvist.

Serravalle pulled off course driver’s left at Turn 6 with a heavy plume of smoke coming out the rear of his No. 11 HMD with DCR entry, and a large amount of oil coating the track. HMD team manager A.J. Smith told the Peacock broadcast there was a fire he needed to tend to, but Serravalle was able to get out of his car fine. 

The race resumed at the end of Lap 8 and start of Lap 9 with more action on the run to Turn 5.

In a three-wide battle among the Andretti teammates, Brabham was outside, Rasmussen in the middle and Robb on the inside into Turn 1. They somehow all made it through the corner with Robb ahead of Rasmussen, Brabham having to back out from the outside, with Robb forceful in his maneuvering to the front. Pedersen’s eventful race continued as he had to dart to the inside entering Turn 3, hit signs on the grass, and resumed.

The full-course caution flew then for Bogle’s car stopped on course with front end damage driver’s right at Turn 5. But the replay showed it had been a more significant bit of contact than otherwise expected.

Bogle, seeking to avoid running into the back of teammate Lundqvist as the field concertinaed into Turn 5, hit the curb driver’s right and launched into the catch fencing. The fence caught car, sheered away sections, and brought it back down to earth. 

This brought out the third full course caution of the race, and then the red flag.

Fortunately, there was a lighter note that followed. 

New leader Robb spoke to Peacock reporter Georgia Henneberry and made a callback to another red flag that affected James Hinchcliffe in the past, at Barber in 2018.

“The starts here are absolutely insane with your three teammates,” he explained. “I have a good car underneath me. I drank too many fluids… I’m trying to not pull a James Hinchcliffe in the rain at Barber.”

That reference was when Hinchcliffe did an interview with Kevin Lee in the rain there, noting he had to answer nature’s call mere moments before INDYCAR officials called drivers out of their cars.

Hinchcliffe was filling in for Charlie Kimball in the Peacock booth this week with Lee, and laughed noting “Speaking from experience, he should do what he needs to do.” 

Once officials called the drivers out of their car, Robb’s pace continued as he was able to dart swiftly to a nearby restroom but still had to wait. Some fun banter ensued on the broadcast. 

Here is the order at the red flag:

Indy Lights GP at Road America – Race – Order Through 9/20 Laps

P No Name Team Laps Diff
1 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 9 LAP 9
2 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 9 In Pit
3 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 9 In Pit
4 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 9 In Pit
5 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 9 In Pit
6 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 9 In Pit
7 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 9 In Pit
8 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 9 In Pit
9 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 9 In Pit
10 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 9 In Pit
11 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 8 Contact
12 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 8 In Pit
13 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 5 Mechanical

Indy Lights GP at Road America – Push-to-Pass Time Remaining (Out of 150 Seconds)

P No Name Team PTP Left
1 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 143
2 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 143
3 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 118
4 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 123
5 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 133
6 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 115
7 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 126
8 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 148
9 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 144
10 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 140
11 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 133
12 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 144
13 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 135

Sting Ray Robb lead Andretti 1-2-3-4 in Indy Lights qualifying at Road America

Sting Ray Robb has his first Indy Lights pole. Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

By Tony DiZinno

This weekend for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires has been a series of sweeps, and it flipped again in third session of the weekend at Road America.

HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing was 1-2-3 in practice one, and 1-2 in practice two this morning. 

Yet by qualifying for tomorrow’s race, scheduled for 9:40 a.m. CDT and local time, Andretti Autosport had secured a 1-2-3-4 qualifying sweep led by a first-time polesitter in Road to Indy’s most experienced current driver, Sting Ray Robb (87 career RTI starts; 61 in Indy Pro 2000 2017-’20, 26 in Indy Lights ’21-’22 prior to Saturday).

The 25-minute session opened with overcast skies and temperatures of 69 ambient and 73 track. With some sprinkles reported on pit lane, the sense of urgency to get a fast lap in was heightened. 

Shortly after the session started, Kyffin Simpson went off course T1 and resumed.

The opening laps saw HMD’s Linus Lundqvist on top ahead of Andretti’s Christian Rasmussen, back on track after his truncated morning practice, with Hunter McElrea third, Benjamin Pedersen fourth and Simpson fifth. Early morning practice pacesetters Christian Bogle and Antonio Serravalle were sixth and seventh on their first runs. James Roe went off course at Turn 3 but continued. 

Times dropped significantly on the second timed laps, with Lundqvist down to a 1:54.6060 ahead of McElrea, Frost, Robb and Rasmussen. 

Halfway through the session and the order was Lundqvist, McElrea, Frost, Rasmussen, Robb, Brabham, Pedersen, Abel, Bogle, Simpson, Serravalle, Francis Jr. and Roe.

Drivers headed into the pits before the final 10 minutes and their next runs on fresh sets of sticker Cooper Tires.

And that’s unsurprisingly when the times dropped.

Lundqvist had the top spot before getting surpassed by Frost, McElrea, and then Robb, creating an upset order compared to how it was halfway through the session. Robb was the only driver to break into the 1:53 bracket in his No. 2 Sekady Dallara IL-15 for Andretti Autosport. 

Robb secured his first Indy Lights pole in his 27th start, eighth in his RTI career, and second straight front row start after rolling off second for Detroit race two. It’s Andretti’s fifth Indy Lights pole at this track. 

McElrea, Rasmussen and Brabham all advanced up the order with the best HMD car Frost in fifth.

Indy Lights GP at Road America – Qualifying Unofficial Results

P No Name Team FTime Diff Laps
1 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 1:53.9743 1:53.9743 9
2 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1:54.1981 0.2238 9
3 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 1:54.2714 0.2971 9
4 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 1:54.3889 0.4146 9
5 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:54.4251 0.4508 7
6 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:54.6060 0.6317 6
7 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 1:54.7035 0.7292 8
8 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 1:55.0848 1.1105 9
9 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:55.1272 1.1529 7
10 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 1:55.1423 1.1680 8
11 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:55.3795 1.4052 8
12 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:55.6811 1.7068 7
13 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 1:55.6838 1.7095 10

Bogle, Serravalle use fresh Cooper Tires to go 1-2 in Indy Lights second practice at Road America

Christian Bogle had a reason to smile after leading second Indy Lights practice at Road America. Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

By Tony DiZinno

Sometimes surprises occur at Road America and while it’s only practice, a welcome surprise occurred at the top of the timesheets in the second Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires session of the weekend.

As on Friday, HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing was on top of the charts. But it was thanks to its two least expected drivers excelling on fresh sticker sets of Cooper Tires late in the session. 

Series sophomores Christian Bogle and Antonio Serravalle finished 1-2 in the second practice, the best session results of both drivers’ Indy Lights careers by far, after posting the first two laps in the 1:54 bracket around the 4.014-mile Road America this weekend. Bogle is in the No. 7 Pelican Energy adorned blue and white entry with Serravalle in the traditional black and white HMD colors and his traditional No. 11. 

Unlike Friday’s lone practice, Saturday’s second practice saw drivers out early and often to gain laps and get track time ahead of qualifying later today, which is scheduled from noon to 12:25 p.m. 

Temperatures of 65 degrees ambient and 67 track greeted the 13 drivers under cloudy skies. 

But in a sign this was going to be an unusual session, things got nutty almost from the off.

On his out lap, Benjamin Pedersen went on the grass driver’s left exiting Turn 3, and then went deep off course and through the gravel trap in his No. 24 Global Racing Group with HMD entry. He avoided the tire barrier though and got back going on the grass before returning to the track.

It appeared as though Pedersen was suffering from braking issues because a lap later, he locked the left front on entry into Turn 5.

Friday pacesetter Linus Lundqvist was first into the 1:55 bracket ahead of Danial Frost, Jacob Abel, Christian Rasmussen and Ernie Francis Jr.

Francis Jr. was another to test the limits of his machinery with a heavy lockup a little bit later.

With 26 minutes left in the session though, Rasmussen’s session came to an early end with the team reporting a mechanical issue it needed to diagnose. 

McElrea dropped the hammer with a lap more than half a second faster than Lundqvist, down to 1:55.1136. The driver raised in Australia, born in California is sporting a new sponsor this weekend and the rest of the season in the form of Smart Motors Toyota aboard his No. 27 Andretti Autosport entry. That’s linked to former USF2000 competitor JR Smart. 

The moments continued with Brabham having a pair, first exiting Turn 14, and a second one a little bit later exiting Turn 13 where he ran wide over the rumble strips but caught up. He shot up the charts though as a result of his pushing.

And then the final surprises of the session occurred when first Serravalle, then Bogle, emerged atop the charts with significantly quicker times. TSO Ladder was able to confirm the new tire runs as the times dropped.

Serravalle’s first flyer launched him up to third and his second, occurring on his 12th lap of the session, moved him to the top of the charts at 1:54.9198.

That time on top was short-lived with Bogle going even quicker at a 1:54.7706.

McElrea’s earlier time held stood for third, best of the Andretti brigade and the only non-HMD with DCR car in the top five. Lundqvist was fourth, Frost fifth, with Brabham falling to sixth ahead of Francis Jr.

Robb, Rasmussen and TJ Speed Motorsports’ Kyffin Simpson completed the top 10. Pedersen’s troublesome session with the aforementioned braking issues left him P13 and last despite completing nine laps.

Indy Lights GP at Road America – Practice #2

P No Name Team FTime Diff Laps
1 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:54.7706 1:54.7706 11
2 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:54.9198 0.1492 12
3 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1:55.1136 0.3430 13
4 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:55.3357 0.5651 11
5 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:55.6128 0.8422 12
6 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 1:55.6269 0.8563 13
7 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 1:55.6368 0.8662 11
8 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 1:55.7948 1.0242 11
9 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 1:56.5233 1.7527 5
10 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 1:56.6049 1.8343 11
11 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:56.6941 1.9235 12
12 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 1:57.6908 2.9202 13
13 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 1:57.8961 3.1255 9

Lundqvist leads HMD 1-2-3 in Indy Lights practice at Road America

Linus Lundqvist. Penske Entertainment: Matt Fraver

By Tony DiZinno

Linus Lundqvist entered Detroit with a 34-point lead and left it with an 84-point lead following a perfect weekend in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series. He led every lap from pole en route to wins in both races, and heads to Road America this weekend poised to extend that lead to over 100 points. 

He started his weekend off at Road America strong too, in a session with limited running as most of the 13 cars ran five laps or less at the 4.014-mile road course. Temperatures were 79 degrees ambient and 102 track for the session. 

The Swede in the No. 26 JULA Dallara IL-15 for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing posted his first representative lap 20 minutes into the 30-minute session and by lap three, he’d leapt to the top of the charts at 1:55.0306.

Lundqvist led an HMD Motorsports top-three sweep of the session, with Danial Frost second (1:55.2449) and Benjamin Pedersen third (1:55.3901). Frost had two poles here last year with Andretti Autosport; Pedersen meanwhile remains in search of his elusive first Indy Lights win. The Dane is tied with Jonathan Klein as Indy Lights’ most frequent podium finisher who is yet to win a race (-Ed. note – thanks to Steve for that statistical deep dive).

Christian Rasmussen, driving a repaired No. 28 car for Andretti Autosport, was best of that team’s brigade on Friday. Andretti cars ran 4-5-6-7 with Rasmussen ahead of Hunter McElrea, Sting Ray Robb and Matthew Brabham. 

Robb, in sixth, was just within 0.422 of a second of Lundqvist so the top six are in good range for Saturday.

Both Rasmussen and Brabham survived some lurid tail-happy slides on corner exit during the day. Brabham’s occurred on his first flying lap exiting Canada Corner while Rasmussen’s was near the end of the session exiting Turn 3. 

Jacob Abel was eighth in the lone Abel Motorsports entry – there is no Ryan Phinny in the No. 61 car this weekend – ahead of Antonio Serravalle and Christian Bogle in the top 10. Bogle led the session early.

Force Indy’s Ernie Francis Jr. was the first car on track and ended 11th ahead of the pair of TJ Speed Motorsports teammates, James Roe and Kyffin Simpson. 

Indy Lights’ second practice is 8:45 to 9:25 a.m. on Saturday, with qualifying from noon to 12:25 p.m. 

Indy Lights GP at Road America – Practice

P No Name Team FTime Diff Laps
1 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:55.0306 1:55.0306 4
2 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:55.2449 0.2143 4
3 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 1:55.3901 0.3595 4
4 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 1:55.4179 0.3873 6
5 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1:55.4354 0.4048 4
6 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 1:55.4526 0.4220 4
7 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 1:55.8546 0.8240 4
8 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:56.1455 1.1149 5
9 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:56.3465 1.3159 7
10 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:56.3544 1.3238 8
11 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 1:56.5738 1.5432 9
12 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 1:57.5025 2.4719 8
13 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 1:57.8424 2.8118 7

Lundqvist’s dominance in Indy Lights continues on Sunday in Detroit

Linus Lundqvist celebrate his third Indy Lights victory of the season with his family (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – Chris Owens)

By Steve Wittich

A second dominant performance by HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing veteran Linus Lundqvist, his third straight win and fourth of the season, gives the Swede a massive 84-point lead in the fight for the scholarship and a seat in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

After a disappointing Saturday, McElrea and Robb rebounded for podium finishes.

After having two drive shafts fail on Saturday, the HMD Motorsports/Global Racing Group put ten new drive shafts in their five cars.

Race control gave the command to fire the 14 turbocharged 2.0L AER engines at 12:05 pm.

After morning showers, the skies were primarily cloudy, and the ambient temperature was struggling to hit 70F.

After a pair of pace laps behind the Chevrolet Corvette pace car, the front row of Lundqvist and Robb led the field to the green flag to get the 30-lap Indy Lights Detroit Grand Prix underway.

Either Lundqvist got a significant jump, or Robb got a poor start.

In Turn 3, Abel was pushed wide by a loose Brabham in Turn 3, bounding over the aggressive curbing and grass and losing a spot to Frost. Race control reviewed the incident but decided that no action was necessary.

The running order after the first lap was Lundqvist, McElrea, Rasmussen, Robb, Brabham, Frost, Abel, Serravalle, Francis, Jr. Simpson, Pedersen, Roe, Bogle and Phinny.

Pedersen, who started 13th after breaking a half-shaft in qualifying on Saturday, gained four spots to ninth over the first two laps.

On Lap 4, Simpson made a daring pass of Francis in Turn 12 to move to 10th, and ahead of them, Pederson continued his march forward. The Dane moved by Serravalle and Abel in consecutive laps to move to seventh.

After five laps, Lundqvist built a significant 3.4 seconds over McElrea, who had his mirrors full of teammate Rasmussen and Robb, who were within eight-tenths of a second of the American-born Kiwi.

Simpson, on Lap 7, moved to ninth, getting around Serravalle.

At the front

On Lap 8, the yellow flag came out when the Pelican Energy sponsored No. 7 of Bogle hammered the wall with the right side of his car at the exit of Turn 13. It appeared that the tallest driver in the field lost the rear end of the car before it hooked back up, hitting the wall at a 45-degree angle.

The 21-year-old from Covington, La., got out of the car under his own power.

At the same time, Phinny came to pit road and the attention of the Abel Motorsports crew, losing one lap.

The yellow flag erased an almost six-second lead for Lundqvist.

Under yellow, the running order was Lundqvist, McElrea, Rasmussen, Robb, Brabham, Frost, Pedersen, Abel, Simpson, Serravalle, Francis, Jr., Roe Phinny, and Bogle (out).

The restart came when the field started Lap 11, with the drivers remaining nose-to-tail for the first lap back to green.

On Lap 12, race control announced an incident between Serravalle and Francis Jr. between Turn 7 and Turn 8 was under review. The Canadian Serravalle was penalized for blocking and gave up the tenth spot to Francis, Jr.

On Lap 13, race control reported to the teams that spotters were reporting moisture around various points on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit.

At the halfway point of the 30-lap race, Lundqvist’s lead over McElrea was 3.5 seconds as the drivers were reporting light drizzle.

The No. 27 of McElrea still had teammate Rasmussen and Rob on his gearbox, but that wasn’t the only battle on track. Pedersen, whose march forward had stalled at seventh, put immense pressure on his teammate.

For the second race in a row, reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion Rasmussen made contact in Turn 5 before coming to a stop in Turn 6 with damage to the nose of his car.

With ten laps remaining and under yellow for the incident with the No. 28, the running order was Lundqvist, McElrea, Robb, Brabham, Frost, Pedersen, Abel, Simpson, Francis, Jr., Serravalle, Roe, Phinny, Rasmussen (out) and Bogle (out).

The restart came with ten laps remaining. Abel, who was running seventh, slowed on the track, making it back to pit road and getting back on track after repairs.

The best battles on the track were between Andretti Autosport teammates Robb and Brabham for the final spot on the podium and between Global Racing Group/HMD Motorsports teammates Frost and Pedersen for fifth.

With seven laps to go, Francis spun in Turn 12 but was able to continue. At the same time, Abel was in the run-off area in Turn 3. Again, the Butler University student was able to continue but was slow.

With five laps remaining, Robb got sideways in Turn 1 while trying to chase down McElrea.

On Lap 26, Pedersen made a look around the outside of Turn 3. The teammates made light contact, with Frost and the Dan-Jet sponsored No. 68 holding the fifth spot.

With three laps remaining, McElrea and Robb each turned their quickest laps of the race while battling for the final two spots on the podium.

When he got the white flag from the starter’s stand, Lundqvist’s lead was 3.2 seconds, but behind him, the teammate battles were still raging.

McElrea had only 0.3 seconds over Robb for the second step on the podium, and Pedersen had the same gap to Frost in the tussle for fifth.

Indy Lights Detroit Grand Prix Race #2 Results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM DIFFERENCE
1 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 30 LAPS
2 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport -3.7005
3 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport -4.013
4 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport -5.4745
5 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing -11.4373
6 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD -12.1261
7 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports -12.2142
8 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing -24.8361
9 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports -25.7713
10 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy -60.3121
11 61 Ryan Phinny Abel Motorsports -1 LAP
12 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports -7 LAPS
13 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport -12 LAPS
14 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing -23 LAPS

Lundqvist dominates in flag-to-flag win in the Motor City

Linus Lundqvist celebrate his third Indy Lights victory of the season with his family (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – Chris Owens)

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.

The Dirtfish sponsored No. 24 of Benjamin Pedersen on track at Belle Isle Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – James Black)

“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.

Christian Bogle (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) with three wheels on the track on the way to his best career Indy Lights finish Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – James Black)

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.

Benjamin Pedersen (Global Racing Group), Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) and Matthew Brabham (Andretti Autosport) celebrate on the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Detroit ‘podium’ Photo Courtesy Of Penske Entertainment – Chris Jones)

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

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL
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

A dominant double pole for Linus Lundqvist in Detroit

 

HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing veteran Linus Lundqvist on track at Belle Isle ((Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – Chris Owens)

By Steve Wittich

HMD Motorsports veteran Linus Lundqvist put together a dominant qualifying session to grab his fourth and fifth consecutive poles of the season and sixth and seventh of his Indy Lights career.

The first track activity on Belle Isle on a sunny but brisk Saturday morning was a split Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying. When the 7:45 am session got underway, the ambient temperature was cool 59F, and the track temperature was 63F.

With only 12 minutes available for the first portion of qualifying, the track was quickly busy with the sound of the turbocharged 2.0L AER power plants.

After two laps, Robb was the quickest of the 14 drivers, but times were changing quickly with the cold tires on the cold track.

The only incidents during the session were several cars in the run-off in Turn 7. Christian Bogle (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), Kyffin Simpson (TJ Speed Motorsports), Ryan Phinny (Abel Motorsports), Ernie Francis, Jr. (Force Indy)

After five laps, with three minutes remaining, Lundqvist held the provisional pole, but the timing screen was lit up purple as drivers continued to get faster as their tires came up to temperature.

Christian Rasmussen received a drive-thru penalty for a pit exit violation with one minute remaining. However, the No. 28 Andretti Autosport machine did not serve the penalty, and his last few laps were invalidated.

Lundqvist lowered the provisional pole on his eighth of eight laps, turning a lap of 83.1190 seconds, almost a half-second ahead of his long-time teammate Pederson. The only other drivers within a second of Lundqvist

The second portion of qualifying was on hold as race control reviewed several incidents and the potential invalidation of laps. Simpson, Robb, Brabham, Frost, and Phinny had laps invalidated.

Indy Lights Detroit Grand Prix Race #1 unofficial qualifying results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:23.1190 ——
2 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 1:23.6137 0.4947
3 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 1:24.0186 0.8996
4 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:24.0519 0.9329
5 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1:24.4305 1.3115
6 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 1:24.5219 1.4029
7 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:24.9774 1.8584
8 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 1:25.5000 2.3810
9 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 1:26.1672 3.0482
10 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 1:26.1930 3.0740
11 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:26.7774 3.6584
12 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 1:26.7893 3.6703
13 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:27.2299 4.1109
14 61 Ryan Phinny Abel Motorsports 1:28.7357 5.6167

The second 12-minutes of qualifying got the green flag at 8:09 am, and the exit of the pit lane was a mess as everybody tried to get on the 2.35-mile 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit first. As a result, Bogle, Brabham, and Abel were all given drive-through penalties for missing the pit exit commit line.

Fresh Cooper Tires and minor adjustments were the order during the break.

The first car to go under 84 seconds and grab the provisional pole was Race #1 pole-winner Lundqvist. He dropped a second off that lap, going 82.8592 seconds, over a half-second ahead of the next best driver.

The top five on the timing screens were Lundqvist, Brabham, Pedersen, Brabham, and Robb, with five minutes remaining.

With three minutes remaining, the red flag came out for Pedersen’s No. 24 Global Racing Group machine, which stopped between Turn 11 and Turns 12. As a result, the Dane was penalized his fastest lap and will start 13th.

That became a red and checkered flag when it was determined that there was not enough time to restart the session.

Indy Lights Detroit Grand Prix Race #2 unofficial qualifying results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER TEAM QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE
1 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:22.6778 ——
2 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 1:23.1821 0.5043
3 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1:23.3252 0.6474
4 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 1:23.5284 0.8506
5 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 1:23.5505 0.8727
6 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:24.0160 1.3382
7 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:24.1850 1.5072
8 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:24.6432 1.9654
9 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 1:24.7694 2.0916
10 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 1:24.9442 2.2664
11 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 1:26.1648 3.4870
12 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:26.5316 3.8538
13 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 1:27.0708 4.3930
14 61 Ryan Phinny Abel Motorsports 1:27.7294 5.0516

Robb leads Lights practice in Detroit – plenty of other notes

Sting Ray Robb during the Indy Lights portion of the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)

By Steve Wittich

Sting Ray Robb, an Andretti Autosport veteran who has a current string of three straight Indy Lights podiums, led the lone practice session on Belle Isle, leading teammate Matthew Brabham and Hunter McElrea by 0.1067 and 0.2408 seconds, respectively.

Also within a half-second of Robb’s fast lap were HMD Motorsports / Global Racing Group teammates Linus Lundqvist and Benjamin Pedersen.

The lone 50-minute Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires got underway at 2:25 pm. The ambient temperature was 79F, and the track temperature was 96.6F. The sky was sunny, with significant cloud cover blowing over the track from the west.

Veteran teammates Linus Lundqvist and Benjamin Pedersen, along with Sting Ray Robb (Andretti Autosport) and Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), were the drivers at the top of the timing screens early, quickly turning laps within a half-second of Kirkwood’s best practice time in 2021.

The broadcast spent quite a bit of time riding on board with Lundqvist, and it quickly became evident how hard it was to keep control on the bumpy street circuit with mixed surfaces.

The first driver to break 84 seconds was Lundqvist, besting the top lap of 84.2423 seconds in the first practice last year.

The following driver to go quicker on used Cooper Tire slicks was Robb, who led after 20-minutes of action. Lundqvist, McElrea, Rasmussen, and Brabham rounded out the top five.

Lundqvist went back to the top of the timing screens with 20-minutes left in practice. A pair of Andretti Autosport drivers followed the HMD Motorsports driver.

Lundqvist lowered the top time to less than a tenth of a second off Kirkwood’s pole from last year and over a second ahead of his practice time.

Robb was the first driver to go under Kirkwood’s pole time from 2021. However, his Andretti Autosport teammate Brabham quickly surpassed him.

The wind was blowing hard as we heard an unusual call from race control. The surface flag call is typical, but the reason – a tree branch in the racing line – was different.

With five minutes remaining, Robb was the first driver to break the 83-second mark, going over two-tenths of a second quicker than Brabham.

With just under minutes remaining, Ryan Phinny missed Turn 11 but didn’t hit anything, continuing on his lap after backing up.

After the session, Brabham told Ryan Myrehn on the INDYCAR Radio Network that he was happy with his No. 83 and that the track had a lot of grip. The American-born Aussie has plenty of laps in Stadium Super Trucks on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit, but this is his first appearance in a formula car.

Indy Lights Detroit Grand Prix practice results

RANK CAR NO. DRIVER FTime QUICK LAP DIFFERENCE LAPS
1 2 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 1:22.8943 —— 27
2 83 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 1:23.0010 0.1067 28
3 27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1:23.1351 0.2408 28
4 26 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:23.2477 0.3534 25
5 24 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group with HMD 1:23.4802 0.5859 25
6 28 Christian Rasmussen Andretti Autosport 1:23.5328 0.6385 27
7 68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:23.6350 0.7407 27
8 51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1:23.8370 0.9427 24
9 21 Kyffin Simpson TJ Speed Motorsports 1:23.9909 1.0966 27
10 11 Antonio Serravalle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:24.2715 1.3772 27
11 7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing 1:24.5233 1.6290 26
12 99 Ernie Francis Jr. Force Indy 1:24.9614 2.0671 29
13 12 James Roe TJ Speed Motorsports 1:25.1723 2.2780 31
14 61 Ryan Phinny Abel Motorsports 1:27.5213 4.6270 20

The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series first visited the bucolic Belle Isle in 1992, and the weekend’s doubleheader will be the 13th and 14th races. Driving for John Martin Racing, Adrian Fernandez went flag-to-flag in the first race in 1992.

Previous Indy Lights winners on Belle Isle

YEAR DRIVER TEAM
2021 Race #2 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport
2021 Race #1 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport
2012 Gustavo Yacaman Team Moore
2000 Jonny Kane Team Green
1999 Derek Higgins Team Mexico Herdez
1998 Airton Dare Tasman Motorsports
1997 Tony Kanaan Tasman Motorsports
1996 Tony Kanaan Tasman Motorsports
1995 Robbie Buhl Dorricott Racing
1994 Steve Robertson Tasman Motorsports
1993 Steve Robertson Tasman Motorsports
1992 Adrian Fernandez John Martin Racing

Last year, eventual champion Kyle Kirkwood used a pair of wins on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit to turn a 27 championship deficit into a more manageable four-point gap to the title lead.

Race weekend basics

The baker’s dozen Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires drivers will have three more opportunities to explore the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit.

Qualifying is bright and early at 7:45 am on Saturday, and will have a new format for the double header. The half-hour window will be split into a pair of 12 minutes sessions. The first 12 minutes will set the grid for Saturday afternoon’s Indy Lights Detroit Grand Prix #1, and after a five-minute break, the second 12 minutes will set the grid for Sunday’s Indy Lights Detroit Grand Prix #1.

Saturday’s 11:30 am race is set for 25 laps, while Sunday’s 12:10 pm race will be 30 laps.

Push-to-pass returns for the first time this season and will be the same as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES utilizes and will look like this:

  • 150 total seconds
  • Minimum use is 1 second
  • Max use is 15 seconds at any time
  • A boost of 50 HP
  • It becomes active on starts/restarts when a driver hits the alt start/finish line.

Something else that is beginning this weekend is that Indy Lights is in the same paddock as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, giving the drivers, teams, and their guests a bigger-time feeling. One team owner, who has several guests attending, told TSO Ladder that the extra buzz is beneficial to their entertaining.

As the weekend starts, 28.6% of the possible points Indy Lights points have been distributed. HMD Motorsports veteran Linus Lundqvist has collected 81% of the possible points available to the drivers and holds a 34-point lead over Danial Frost.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires points standings

RANK DRIVER TEAM TOTAL BACK
1 Linus Lundqvist HMD Motorsports 175
2 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports 141 -34
3 Sting Ray Robb Andretti Autosport 137 -38
4 Benjamin Pedersen Global Racing Group w/HMD 131 -44
5 Matthew Brabham Andretti Autosport 119 -56
6 Christian Rasmussen – R Andretti Autosport 113 -62
7 Hunter McElrea – R Andretti Autosport 105 -70
8 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 102 -73
9 Antonio Serravalle Abel Motorsports/HMD Motorsports 93 -82
10 Ernie Francis, Jr. – R Force Indy 92 -83
11 Kyffin Simpson – R TJ Speed Motorsports 91 -84
12 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports 80 -95
13 James Roe, Jr. – R TJ Speed Motorsports 68 -107
14 Manuel Sulaiman HMD Motorsports 48 -127
15 Ryan Phinny Abel Motorsports 34 -141
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