Lundqvist leads Indy Lights practice on Friday at Iowa

NEWTON, IA — Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship leader Linus Lundqvist found himself in a familiar spot after the first practice Friday for the race Saturday at Iowa Speedway – on top.

Lundqvist, from Sweden, led the field of 13 drivers with a fast lap of 20.3402 seconds, 158.229 mph on the .894-mile oval in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car. The first oval race of the 2022 Lights season is scheduled for 12:20 p.m. ET Saturday(live on Peacock Premium), with qualifying preceding the race at 9:30 a.m. (live on INDYCAR Live!).

SEE: Practice Results

None of the drivers competing in the 75-lap race Saturday has previous racing experience at Iowa in an Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires or Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship car. Lundqvist leads the championship by 87 points over Sting Ray Robb of Andretti Autosport with six races to go this season.

“We had the official test here a couple of weeks ago, so we came here knowing we had to do a few little tweaks,” Lundqvist said. “Obviously, we’re a little more comfortable running here a second time.

“It’s a big difference from Gateway (World Wide Technology Raceway oval). Even though (Iowa) is a short oval, they have so many different characteristics. The high line is very big around here. You look at some past races here, and you see guys going side by side for four, five, six laps. I’m looking forward to the race. Good practice for us.”

Andretti Autosport drivers took the next three spots on the speed chart. Matthew Brabham was second at 157.978 mph in the No. 83 Andretti Autosport car, followed by Hunter McElrea at 157.762 in the No. 27 Andretti car and Christian Rasmussen at 157.661 in the team’s No. 28 Road to Indy/Stellrecht car.

Jacob Abel rounded out the top five at 157.619 in the No. 51 Abel Speedwagon entry.

The 50-minute session was clean, with one caution for a track inspection. The 13-driver field combined to turn 799 laps, with Brabham leading the individual laps turned list with 83 trips around the “Fastest Short Track on the Planet.”

Carlin has won 3 of the last 4 at Iowa but they’re no longer on the grid. 

Lundqvist went through a stretch to where he won 4 races in a 5 race span including leading every lap in all 4. He’s 0-for-3 since with no laps led. 

However, he’s scored a top 5 finish in all 8 races run this season which is the main reason he leads Robb by 87 points heading to the 9th of 14 races this season.

Robb is winless in 28 Indy Lights starts but does have 5 podiums in his last 7 tries and a top 5 in 7 of the 8 races run in 2022. The difference is he’s not winning and that 1 race outside the top 5. 

Brabham (-96) finished runner-up in Mid-Ohio which catapulted him to third in points. He has 3 top 4 finishes in his last 4 starts on the season. Their teammate Hunter McElrea (-98) won at Mid-Ohio to earn his third straight podium. Both McElrea and Christian Rasmussen (4 top 4 finishes in the last 6 races) are arguably the hottest driver in the series right now with Robb a close 3rd to them.

Who’s not hot is Lundqvist’s teammate Benjamin Pedersen who fell from 2nd in points to 5th after having no top 5 finishes in his last 3 efforts and only 1 podium in the last 6 overall. He started 2022 off with a pair of runner-up finishes. Danial Frost also isn’t either. He won the 3rd race of the season on the Indy road course and had 3 straight top 5’s to begin 2022 off with. Following his Indy win, he was 2nd in points. He has 1 top 5 in the 5 races since without a podium in that span to which he’s fallen to a season low in a tie for 6th (-118). 

Top Stat:

10 of the 11 race winners came from the top 6 Rows with 4 out of the last 5 starting either on the pole or 5th.

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