LEEDS, Ala — In a day in which Andretti Autosport ran into troubles, Global Motorsports Group and HMD capitalized. HMD shined on a wet morning in central Alabama by not only starting 1-2, but finishing there too.
Pole sitter Linus Lundqvist led all 31 laps in capturing his 4th career Indy Lights victory on Sunday. The win though, well it wasn’t easy. Heavy thunderstorms fell on the Barber Motorsports Park early this morning. The rain moved its way out a little after 9 a.m. locally, but with how strong the rain was, the 2.3-mile track was soaked.
Still, these cars can race in the rain and they’d do just that. While the skies cleared and the sunshine eventually came out, the 14 drivers had to manage a very wet start and drying as the race went on. As a result, managing the wet tires was the name of the game.
Lundqvist, pulled out to an early lead before we went to the first and only full course caution for Christian Bogle getting off course in Turn 16. It bunched the field back up. Two laps later, we’d go back green and would remain that way for the duration in the 45 minute timed race.
Lundqvist’s lead would expand to 2.9322-seconds by Lap 20 as he looked like he’d easily go flag-to-flag. That’s the point it changed though. He was pushing too hard while his teammate Benjamin Pedersen saved his tires for an end of a race push.
In going from 2.1-seconds up to 2.9-seconds in 3 laps from Laps 17-20, it shrunk back down to 2.2-seconds by Lap 23. By Lap 25, it was down to 1.6531-seconds. Two laps later, it was down to less than a second at .7504-seconds.
The fight was on.
Pedersen was there but could he get by. Both were pushing their cars to the limit but Lundqvist would still prevail by just .1782-seconds. As a result, he takes over the points lead after earning his 13th career podium in just his 22nd career start.
Lundqvist, finished 1st and 2nd respectively at Barber last year and was 1st and 2nd also in the Formula Regional Americas Championship here in 2020. That’s 5 top 2 finishes in 5 Barber starts.
Half of his Indy Lights wins have also come here.
Pedersen, scored his 8th career podium result in 22 races, half of which being runner-ups. He also finished 2nd in St. Pete and now sits 2nd in points behind Lundqvist heading to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2 weeks. The Denmark native finished 2nd in 2 of his 3 Barber starts now.
Sting Ray Robb was the best Andretti Autosport finisher in 3rd for his first career podium in 22 starts.
Danial Frost rebounded from his 8th place qualifying effort to come away 4th for his 9th top 5 in 22 races in Indy Lights competition He also gave HMD 2 cars in the top 4 but combine their effort with GRG, they took 3 of the top 4 spots.
The rain was Frost’s kryptonite. He was fastest in both practice sessions and as the track dried out, he charged forward.
The rain was also Andretti’s kryptonite too. Christian Rasmussen started 5th but quickly fell off. He even had a run in with Manual Sulaiman near the mid race mark which broke the front wing off his car. He’d finish a disappointing 11th.
Another Andretti driver in Hunter McElrea started 6th and was having an off race before coming on late too. Unfortunately, he made a really late move on Matthew Brabham in Turn 5 and punted the points leader coming into the day.
McElrea, finished 12th while Brabham dropped to 7th and went from 1st to 3rd in points. You never want to have a run-in with your teammate, let alone the one leading the points race. To make matters worse, the guys behind Brabham in points entering today were 1-2 at the time and would finish there.
Brabham, qualified 9th and charged up to 4th. He was right there with Robb in his sights for a podium before spinning in Turn 2. That dropped him down to 7th. As he was back in the top five, McElrea pushed him back down to 7th again.