INDIANAPOLIS — There’s just something about this Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course that suits Christian Lundgaard. The Danish driver made his NTT INDYCAR Series debut here in this very race weekend last August. He qualified 4th and finished 12th for Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing. That was good enough to earn him a full season ride in 2022.
Which is partially why he’s had his most success of his rookie season on this same 2.439-mile layout. He qualified 8th and finished 9th in May’s GMR Grand Prix. In the return trip this weekend, he was once again solid.
Lundgaard qualified in the Fast 6 for just the 2nd time of his career. He’d roll off on the outside of Row 3 in his No. 30 Dallara-Honda. With other drivers’ misfortunes and a strong car, he’d come away runner-up when it was all said and done for his best career finish.
“It feels amazing,” Lundgaard said. “I’m not going to lie, I did qualify the exact same car and race the exact same car, so that car seems to work,” he said of thriving on this track.
“I think Rossi and (Colton) Herta did seem to have some more power down than we did today, and I think that’s what killed our rear tires and they were just able to take off, and as soon as they’ve taken off, we’re just managing the gap.
“I think it was looking like a P3 today but I ended up finishing P2, so I’m obviously super happy for the team.”
Lundgaard had just 2 top 11 finishes in his first 7 races of the year. One came here and the other in the season opener in St. Pete. Since?
5 in the last 6 races including 3 of which being in the top 10.
“I think the best feeling right now is that the team really deserves it. They’ve worked super hard, and we’ve had such a struggling beginning to the season, and I think coming to Toronto was when things started to change. We saw sort of a streak where we started to perform better. Even Road America, Mid-Ohio was there. We were on the edge of top 10. To come here and finish second, I think the team deserves every bit of it.
“I’m just a guy doing my job really. I want to win, so I try as best I can every event.
“We needed to execute the weekend. We knew coming into this weekend that this was the track we were going to be at least the most competitive at together with perhaps Toronto where we ended up being very competitive.
“We came into this event and knowing we were going to have a car that was able to finish in the good end of top 10.
“I mean, I wouldn’t say we overachieved, but we for sure got everything out of the package we had.
“It’s a bit unfortunate that Jack and Graham were unable to get further in qualifying because I think for sure they had a car that was able to go further, as well.
“For me to get it done, it just proves that the car was there, which is why I really feel like the team deserves this podium, and I hope there’s more to come.”
There likely will. He’s not done here. He’s just turned 21 so he has plenty of years left in INDYCAR should he want it. In saying that, he quipped that one thing that he was getting a little annoyed about is that every time race day comes, his teammate Graham Rahal always seemed to find a way to finish ahead.
“Didn’t happen today, luckily,” he joked.
“But no, honestly, Graham has helped me massively, understanding how much you can push the tires. He’s extremely good on the long run, making the tires last, making the fuel last, and just being competitive. Even in a car that might not be competitive enough to be there, we’ve had some good results.
“As a team, the drivers work very well together. I’m very pleased to have Jack and Graham by my side and helping me. It’s also good for the team that we now have a podium because I think just for the future, it’s going to be a massive confidence boost for everyone to keep digging. This is the right path. We’re going in the right direction. And also for the two other drivers, Jack and Graham. Like you said, Graham had a good race today, but he always has a good race. We just need to get that qualifying car further up, and having the first Fast Six of the season this season, we need to keep digging.
“The two other cars had a little more potential, made mistakes, didn’t push hard enough in the first lap. We need to eliminate those issues and get on with it.”