Once the checkered flag drops on Sunday morning’s Indy Lights race (10:30 a.m. ET, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network) from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, it will have officially pushed us past the midway mark of the season. Right now, we’re 7 races into the 14 year slate and as we sit, Linus Lundqvist holds a commanding 82 point advantage over emerging Sting Ray Robb in the standings.
However, Lundqvist has opened the door a slight bit at the $1-million scholarship for a 3 race deal in the NTT INDYCAR Series in 2023 as he brought his No. 26 entry home in 4th the last time out at Road America. That snapped a 3 race win streak for the Swedish driver as Lundqvist led literally every lap in 4 of the 5 races entering Road America. It was also the first time that he didn’t start on the front row too.
Can he bounceback in Mid-Ohio?
He won the last time out here last Fall but was also 4th, 4th and 6th respectively in the 3 races on the 2.258-mile road course prior.
The other question is, can anyone capitalize if Lundqvist leaves the door open?
Robb is on a roll (5 podiums in 7 races this year) coming off of his 1st pole in Road America and best career finish (2nd) a day later. He’s also a seasoned veteran at Mid-Ohio making 14 Road to Indy starts here.
Robb was 11th, 10th, 5th and 7th respectively in the 4 races in Lights competition but was 10th, 3rd and 1st in 2020 in Indy Pro 2000 racing there too. He was 5th and 2nd in 2019, 9th and 4th in 2018 10th, 6th and 5th in 2017 in his other Mid-Ohio starts in Indy Pro 2000.
He may be fending off his Andretti Autosport teammates for the win Sunday though. Andretti Autosport has won 8 of the last 9 Indy Lights races at Mid-Ohio on a track that rewards qualifying. The last 8 races were won by a front row starter. The last 19 from a starter from the top 2 rows.
James Davison back in 2008 was the last time someone won at Mid-Ohio from a starting position worse than 4th. That’s the only time it’s happened since Indy Lights started coming to the track in 1986 (32 out of 33 times).
Matthew Brabham is 5th in points but has 6 starts in the top 3 rows this season in 7 races. He was 5th and 12th in the Indy Lights doubleheader weekend on the track in 2014, swept the weekend in Indy Pro 2000 in 2013 and was 3rd and 25th in USF 2000 in 2012.
His teammates Christian Rasmussen and Hunter McElrea will be right there too. Rasmussen is coming off of a win in Road America and has started 4th or better in 5 of the last 6 races. He also has 3 top 4 finishes in his last 5 starts on the season. Rasmussen was 1st, 5th, 1st and 3rd in 4 Indy Pro 2000 starts on the track just last year. He won all 3 races there in USF 2000 competition in 2020 and was 1st and 2nd in 2019 in the same series on the same track. That’s 7 top 2 finishes in 9 Mid-Ohio starts.
For McElrea, he’s qualified on the front row 4 times in 7 races run this season and been in the top 5 in all 7 at that. He also has 4 top 6 results including 3 of which on the podium in the last 5 races run this year too. McElrea was 3rd and 9th in Indy Pro 2000 competition at Mid-Ohio in 2020 and 4th, 1st, 7th and 6th last year. He was also 2nd and 1st in 2019 in USF 2000 racing there. He’s won in the other two ladders at Mid-Ohio, can he do so in the third?
There’s a great chance the Andretti quartet is ready to shine Sunday morning against Lundqvist. Which could further shift the downward trend of Lundqvists’ teammate of Benjamin Pedersen.
After a start to the year that saw Pedersen finish runner-up in 3 of the opening 5 races, he’s since finished 6th and 11th and dropped to 3rd in points (-97). He was also 7th, 8th, 9th and 3rd in his 4 Mid-Ohio starts a year ago too, so the slide may continue in early July.