INDIANAPOLIS — Christian Lundgaard has every reason to be salty with how last Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix went. On Friday, he was second in both practice sessions but found just a bit more to take hold of his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole award. He boasted Friday evening that anything less than a win would be disappointing.
Unfortunately, not only did he not win, he also failed to snag a podium either. Lundgaard brought his No. 45 Dallara-Honda home in fourth place. It was how he responded to the finish though is what impressed me the most.
Lundgaard could have been dejected. That’s not the finish that he went to bed hoping for. It’s not the win he had his sights set on. However, the 21-year-old Danish driver was mature beyond his years in his response.
He was satisfied. He found a silver lining. It was his third career top five finish in the series in just his 23rd start. It was the best finish of the season. He took a car that wasn’t the best in the handling department and not balanced right to a top five on one of the biggest stages of the season.
I was curious on Tuesday if he had a chance to sit down and rewatch that race yet to truly see what went wrong. He did.
“Fell asleep on the couch early,” he told me on rewatching it. “I was just super exhausted after even though that it was just a two-day weekend. Really what we did in two days what we would normally do in three days so it was very compact.
“But I think it was just all the emotions letting them out. Obviously, it’s a little bittersweet not finishing on the podium. When we got to look at the bright side. Last year at this point of the season, I think we would have been happy with just the top 10 and the past few races, we’ve had to fast six and two top six results in-a-row. So looking at that, we’re making progress and that’s what we need to do as a team.”
That gives him momentum heading into the biggest race of the season now – the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (May 28). Lundgaard qualified and finished sixth in Barber. He last week started first and finished fourth.
Is he a believer in the momentum that he’s accumulated?
“I do because I saw it last year for myself,” he told me. “The second half of the season last year we built on top of every race weekend, and we ended up qualifying third at Portland and then we had our podium here after the momentum change after Toronto. So I certainly do believe and also looking at a Barber going into here. So I’m only hoping for the best for the big one.”
Lundgaard said that it’s harder to find momentum than it is to keep it and now that they have it, he expects bigger things.
“For sure. Because it’s very, very difficult to turn things upside down and it’s it works either way,” he says. “So when momentum is on your side, it’s going to be on your side but if it’s against you, it’s definitely against you. So it’s very, very difficult to turn around and I’m happy at this point going into the Month of May that we had such a result that we that we did, because I only hope it’s going to help us for the rest of the month.”
Lundgaard says that the pressure is diminishing because of that. He said that they put a lot of pressure on themselves at the beginning of the year to perform and things went worse. However, they found something promising at the Texas test with Katherine Legge and Linus Lundqvist and now that they have the speed, he truly thinks they can now keep it.