Linus Lundqvist thought that he had won the last oval race on the schedule last month at Iowa. He crossed the finish line first. However, that celebration was quickly subdued. The victory champagne never occurred for the Swedish driver. In a wild turn of events, Lundqvist was shortly dropped from 1st to 4th in the finishing order for his role in the Lap 71 incident with Matthew Brabham. That move in turn handed the win back to pole sitter Hunter McElrea instead.
Lundqvist wasn’t happy with how that played out so he took it out on the field the next time out in Nashville to where he led all 35 laps and extended his season long points lead to 95 with 4 races remaining.
The Swedish driver is well on his way to scoring his 1st championship in the Road to Indy program. Last year was his first and only year in the RTI and he finished 3rd in the final standings as a rookie.
With both Kyle Kirkwood and David Malukas advancing up to the NTT INDYCAR Series for 2022, Lundqvist expected to be the championship favorite.
He’s been everything as advertised too. He finished 3rd in the season opener on the streets of St. Pete. He then led all 31 laps in the 2nd race of the year at Barber. That started a 5 race span to which he won 4 times.
He then let the Andretti Autosport drivers back in after 3 straight results outside of the top 2, but the win in Nashville from the pole almost puts this title out of reach.
McElrea sits 2nd in points and while he’s charging hard in going from 7th in points to 2nd, it may be too little too late. The Andretti driver has 5 straight podiums in his No. 27 entry including that Iowa win, but if he wants to have any shot at a title next month, he better likely win out.
While he has won 2 of the last 3 races, Lundqvist hasn’t finished outside the top 5 all year either. 70% of his finishes this season have been on the podium.
Sting Ray Robb (-103) is 3rd in points but McElrea’s teammate has never won in 30 career Indy Lights starts. He does have 2 runner-ups this season and 6 podiums as well as 9 top 5 finishes in 10 starts, it’s going to take multiple wins over the final 4 races to even have a shot.
Brabham (-115) and Christian Rasmussen (-134) round out the top 5 with all 4 Andretti drivers chasing Lundqvist. The teammate of Lundqvist, Benjamin Pedersen (-140) sits 6th but he’s not had a top 5 since his Belle Isle Race 1 runner-up. That was his 3rd time he’s finished second in the first 5 races run of the season but he’s finished 6th, 11th, 6th, 9th and 6th respectively since.
Their teammate Danial Frost is in a similar boat. He won the 3rd race of the year at Indy for his 3rd straight top 5 to start 2022 off with. He’s had just 1 top 5 in his last 7 finishes however which has dropped him from 2nd to 7th in points.