Lundgaard Embraces Indycar’s ‘Pure Racing”

Photo of Christian Lundgaard by James Black, Indycar

Christian Lundgaard had just a few hours to get a taste of Indycar last August, but it was enough to set him on a path for a full time ride in the series. Luindgaard and team owner Bobby Rahal talked about the differences between Indycar and Formula 1, and why they think Indycar presents greater opportunities for younger drivers.

He told the media this morning after Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced Lundgaard as the 2022 driver of car 30,

“In the end it actually came down to what do I personally
want and what will I enjoy, and for me when I did the race
over here, that’s what I enjoyed the most. I haven’t
enjoyed a race weekend as much as that one for years,
except obviously when you have a very good weekend in
whatever you’re doing and you are winning and
dominating. . .
Over here it’s pure racing. I like the racing over here.
Yeah, that’s what attracts me and the racing itself, so I’m
definitely positive for next year.”

Lundgaard understands the challenges he faces on ovals, but is eager to run on them. He counts on his experienced teammates, graham Rahal and Jack Harvey, to help him. LKundgaard appreciates Indycar’s oval history.

“…when I think about INDYCAR, I think about the Indy 500. When you’re
sitting at home and someone mentions INDYCAR, you
think of the oval tracks, so you know what comes with it.
I think the road courses I know. I know how to drive
around a road course, but the ovals will definitely be a
challenge.
I think it’s something that I will have to prepare as much as
I can on. I think it’s great to have Graham and Jack with
me. They’ve got the experience. The team has got the
experience on the oval tracks, so I think for me, it’s about
taking it step by step, but at the same time trying to see
how much I can learn before getting on to the track.
And I’m sure the team has got everything ready for me.”

Lundgaard explained the difference between Formula 1 and Indycar and why he is taking thuis direction.

“INDYCAR is a series where they do this Indy 500, they do
ovals. It’s very mixed. It’s a mix of street circuits, road
courses, ovals. It’s such a big mix, where you have
European tracks, they’re nice and smooth, big runoffs.
Specifically in F1 you’ve got some are faster than others
and you’ve got to be in the right car to be able to win.
Looking at Romain, he came over here and he started
winning and performing. I never doubted that he was a
good driver even in F1 because I know Kevin as well and
he was his teammate and they were fighting each other
because that’s the only thing I could do. Over here
everyone fights everyone. Everyone has an opportunity to
win. That’s what racing stands for.
So for me to come over here, I know once I jump in the car
I’ve got an opportunity to win no matter which track I’m at,
and that’s what racing is, and that’s why I’m here.”

Rahal was asked why he thinks young European drivers ould be attracted to Indycar.

” Well, first off, I think INDYCAR is what
Formula 1 used to be, to a large degree. Clearly we don’t
have the politics. Clearly we don’t — there’s a lot of things
that don’t exist in the INDYCAR paddock that exist in the
Formula 1 paddock.
You look at how many really good guys are in F2 who
maybe are frustrated now because they can’t make that
next step, and yet they’ve kind of proven their abilities.
As Christian mentioned, I think that — if I’m a young guy in
Europe and I look at the potentials, I think the potential for
my career is much greater here in INDYCAR than it is
there.”

Lundgaard joins Callum Ilott of Juncos-Hollinger Racing as the first two confirmed rookies for 2022. Young drivers in Europe will watch their progress closely next season. Indycar may be on the verge of another European wave.


Lundgaard Completes RLL’s 2022 Lineup

Another grid spot for the 2022 NTT Indycar season is now filled as Rahal letterman Lanigan racing announced Christian Lundgaard as driver of car 30. Lundgaard drove in one race for RLL in 2021,starting fourth and finishing 12th at the second road course race at IMS in August. The news release from R:LL this morning:

ShareTweet

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (October 20, 2021) – After an impressive debut in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in August, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that FIA Formula 2 Championship driver Christian Lundgaard, 20, will join the team as the driver of the No. 30 Honda-powered entry beginning in 2022 in a multi-year agreement. Further details for the racing program will be announced at a later date.

Lundgaard, who is a member of the Alpine Academy, a program originally created by Renault F1 in 2002 to support young racing drivers through their careers, had limited preparation before his Indy car debut at IMS but turned heads when he qualified on the second row in fourth place and went on to finish 12th despite a condensed event schedule.

His ability to adapt quickly will be an asset as he learns the nuances of oval racing and also competes in the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, 2022.

The 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on February 25-27. The 17-race schedule includes the Hy-VeeDeals.com 250 on Saturday, July 23, and the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 on Sunday, July 24 – both at Iowa Speedway. Team partner Hy-Vee will provide broad support for the doubleheader event through a wide-ranging partnership that will bring INDYCAR racing back to the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway, located near their headquarters in Des Moines, after a one-year hiatus. For more information about the series or team, visit http://www.indycar.com and http://www.rahal.com.

QUOTEBOARD:

CHRISTIAN LUNDGAARD, Driver of the No. 30 Honda: “I’m very excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in INDYCAR. They are a fantastic team who made me feel very welcome earlier this year when I made my debut in the series. They are the perfect choice and I’m happy to join them on this next chapter in my career. I was very much open minded when I raced at Indianapolis in August and the experience then only grew my hunger to give it another go, so to have the opportunity as a full-time professional racing driver is a privilege. I can only thank Bobby, Piers and the team, as well as my investors and Alpine for putting it all together. I’m determined to repay that faith with on-track performances beginning when the season starts in February. Of course, this will be a completely new challenge for me, especially with oval racing, which I’ve never done before. I’d like to think I’m a fast learner, so taking this on is going to be an awesome experience. For now, I’m not setting too many expectations other than working hard and enjoying the racing and hopefully the results will follow. For now, though, my focus is on finishing the Formula 2 Championship before fully committing to taking on INDYCAR. I can’t wait for the experience to begin.”

BOBBY RAHAL, Co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: “I’m very pleased that Christian will be joining us for the next several years. His performance on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway certainly surprised everybody. For him to do the job he did was tremendous and certainly beyond our expectations. With a little more time under his belt, I think the performance would have been even stronger. Everyone within the team was very pleased and it created a lot of excitement and positive reactions from the fans on social media and online as well as a positive buzz in the paddock. Some may not know, but he had food poisoning so he wasn’t feeling 100 percent that day and yet to have the kind of weekend we had was great. I look forward to a long relationship with Christian. He’s a great young man who fit well with the team immediately and we are all excited about what we can do together.”

MIKE LANIGAN, Co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: “The team is very excited to have Christian on board beginning with the 2022 season. With our current line up with Graham and Jack, I believe the addition of Christian will take our team to the next level in competing for a championship.”

DAVID SALTERS, President and Technical Director, Honda Performance Development: “Christian impressed us all in his INDYCAR debut earlier this year, on the IMS road course with Rahal Letterman Lanigan. Great to see a ‘youth movement’ in INDYCAR and high quality talent transfer from F2 and F1 programs. From Honda’s perspective, it’s delightful to see the upward trajectory of INDYCAR with a super competitive field, we relish this as we race to challenge ourselves through competition. We look forward to watching Christian continue to develop and perform in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2022.”

About Christian Lundgaard
Twenty-year-old Christian, from Hedensted, Denmark, races in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the primary Formula 1 support series. He is also a member of the Alpine Academy, having joined the program in 2017 following an impressive career in European and World Karting Championships. Christian’s first year in single-seaters led to two Formula 4 titles – NEZ and Spanish – before he finished runner-up in the 2018 Formula Renault Eurocup as a rookie. In 2019, Christian stepped up to Formula 3, finishing sixth, before progressing to Formula 2 last year.

In 2020 he stepped up to Formula 2, securing two wins. So far in 2021, Christian has three Formula 2 podiums to his name. He finished second in Race 2 at the season opener in Bahrain before claiming third place in Race 1 in Great Britain in July. After his debut in INDYCAR, he made a sensational charge from 19th on the grid to finish third in Monza in Race 1. He has tested the R.S.18 on one occasion this year at Silverstone. The final two races of the championship will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on December 2-4 and Yas Marina, United Arab Emirates, December 9-11.

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time
IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2021, the team begins its 30th year of competition and will attempt to add to its 29 Indy car wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice and the 2020 Indy 500 with Takuma Sato — their 33 poles, 107 podium finishes and 1992 series championship. The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 22 wins – including the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races, 28 poles and 91 podium finishes as well as a second-place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017. The team was also the 2020 Michelin Endurance Champions. For 2021, the team will compete for back-to-back Michelin Endurance Championships.

O’Ward Nips Power for Pole in Frantic, Tight Qualifying

Photo: Pato O’Ward by Matt Fraver, Indycar

So close. Will Power was so close to earning his first pole position of 2021, but Pato O’Ward nipped him at the line by 0.0067 of a second. O’Ward’s third pole of the year came at an opportune time for the driver third in the standings. Points leader Alex Palou qualified sixth and other title contenders Scott Dixon rolls off 26th and Josef Newgarden starts 20th. Dixon was penalized for spinning and affecting other drivers’ laps, and Newgarden has a six place penalty for an engine change to serve.

All three rounds of the shortened qualifying format produced drama as several drivers traded the top spot. But the star of the day was Christian Lundgaard, the Danish F2 driver in the RLL Hy Vee number 45 this weekend. Lundgaard impressed in the practice session, and he dazzled in qualifying, making it to the final round and leading the fast Twelve for a bit. He will start fourth. No matter how his race turns out, his weekend is already a success.

Christian Lundgaard. Photo by Chris Jones, Indycar

Notes

Colton Herta’s string of front row starts ends at four. He qualified fifth.

Romain Grosjean missed his second consecutive pole on the IMS Road course by just 27 thousandths of a second. He starts third.

.Ed Carpenter Racing had its best road course qualifying in a while. Conor Daly starts eighth and Rinus VeeKay ninth.

Newgarden and Dixon start in a part of the grid where there is usually trouble in the first turn. If they get through that, it will be interesting to see how far they advance wht strategy they use.

.