A 24-year-old Swedish native, Lundqvist transferred into the 20-lap, two-segment main event that had a $500,000 prize on the line after a straightforward drive – starting and finishing fourth – in the second heat race.

Lundqvist, the 2022 Indy NXT champion, out-lasted fellow first year drivers such as Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) team-mate Kyffin Simpson, 2023 Indy NXT titlist Christian Rasmussen (Ed Carpenter Racing) and current Indy NXT full-timer Nolan Siegel, who was making his first-ever appearance in an IndyCar event. Additionally, though, he was among the three – of five – CGR drivers to transfer into the main event, with the noticeable omission being six-time series champion Scott Dixon. Colin Braun (Dale Coyne Racing) and Tom Blomqvist (Meyer Shank Racing) were also among the list of rookies.

Although the first 10 laps of the final saw Lundqvist maintain sixth and not challenge in an effort to conserve tire degradation, the second half saw him in the mix of multiple battles against the likes of Colton Herta (Andretti Global), Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) and Alexander Rossi (Arrow McLaren).

In the end, Lundqvist couldn’t fend of Herta, but did hold firm against a late dive by Rossi and ahead of Newgarden en route to collecting a sixth-place finish, directly behind team-mate Marcus Armstrong, the 2023 IndyCar Rookie of the Year, in the running order.

Race Start, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, Linus Lundqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Tom Blomqvist, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, Patricio O’Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Callum Ilott, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

“Yeah, it was an interesting format,” Lundqvist told Motorsport.com. He came into this event with only four IndyCar starts, including three last year with Meyer Shank Racing.

“Obviously, with 10 laps and stop and then 10 laps again, I think you saw some different strategies going on as well; massive tire saving in the first half to have it in the second half. We were at the trail end of that, not really committing to either. So, I think that’s where we were pace wise this weekend as well. Happy. Great experience for me as a rookie.”

An even bigger benefit for Lundqvist than Sunday’s race was the nine hours of testing the preceded it on Friday and Saturday.

“I’m still getting comfortable with the car, the team and getting used to IndyCar racing, generally,” he said. “So, having two full test days, qualifying session and basically, two short races, it’s been good for us.”

Trying something different

When it comes to his thoughts on the event, Lundqvist was complimentary of IndyCar attempting something different.

“I enjoy that IndyCar is taking some chances,” he said. “Having this non points race gave them the platform to try a bunch of things and see differences. I think we can definitely look over the final stint, splitting the 10 laps and 10 laps, because I think it was a little bit awkward for the people watching as well.”

And with recognizing how the opening 10 laps of the event was more of a follow-the-leader in a slowed pace ordeal, Lundqvist believes there is something to tweak with it but emphasized the importance of tire management and degradation.

“The first half was rough because people – myself included – were running eight to 10 seconds off the pace just to save tires for the last bit,” he said.

“We can have a think about what we can do to change that, but otherwise I like the short race format. Obviously, the starts are always exciting, so when you bunch everybody together and especially, I think what helps racing generally is higher tire deg, which we had here, and maybe something even more so we can start to look at.

“A great example of good racing was the NASCAR race at Bristol a couple of weeks ago where you see what tire deg and tire management can do. But I’m happy that IndyCar tried stuff.”

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