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Strategy Propels Lundqvist to First INDYCAR Podium at Barber


A maiden INDYCAR podium worth celebrating for Linus Lundqvist at Barber Motorsports Park. (Photo: Joe Skibinski | Penske Entertainment)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Working your way towards the front is easier said than done, a task rookie Linus Lundqvist knew very well Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park. After rolling off 19th, the INDYCAR rookie from Chip Ganassi Racing had a lot of things go his way.

Whether it was a three-stop strategy panning out tremendously or cautions coming at just the right time, when it came down to it, Lundqvist simply charged his way towards a third-place finish in the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix.

Lundqvist’s result marked the first time since David Malukas at World Wide Technology Raceway in 2022 that an INDYCAR rookie scored a podium and Lundqvist was the eighth racer to do since 2020.

INDYCAR Drivers Scoring Podiums as Series Rookies (since 2020)

  • Alex Palou — Road America Race No. 1 (2020)
  • Oliver Askew — Iowa Race No. 1 (2020)
  • Rinus VeeKay — Harvest GP at Indy Race No. 1 (2020)
  • Scott McLaughlin — Texas Race No. 1 (2021)
  • Romain Grosjean — Indy GP I, Indy GP II, Laguna Seca (2021)
  • Christian Lundgaard — Indy GP II (2022)
  • David Malukas — Gateway (2022)
  • Linus Lundqvist — Barber (2024)

As some drivers such as Lundqivst’s teammate Alex Palou and fellow Honda racer Felix Rosenqvist toughed it out on a two-stopper, the 25-year-old Swede truly shined in the final 25 laps of the race. After Santino Ferrucci gave up the lead to make his final stop, Lundqvist led his first laps as an INDYCAR driver, leading a total of four laps before making his last stop, when he went to fresh Firestone alternates.

From there, Lundqvist was a man on a mission as his No. 8 The American Legion Honda slowly pick-pocketed spots to work his way up to fifth. Not long after, Lundqvist and his fresh tires made quick business on Rosenqvist and then Palou to move up into the final step of the podium; a run he described as a fun one. He could not believe when he got word over the radio that he was up to third.

“It was amazing. I think for the first time ever I was not on the save fuel strategy. I was not the one being passed, which was nice,” Lundqvist explained during the post-race press conference.

“Obviously we had a bit of everything in that race for us. We started obviously quite far back, in 19th. In the beginning it was just about basically saving fuel as much as we can, see what we can do later in the race. The team kept telling me to hit your number, you’ll reap the reward at the end. That definitely happened.

“I think after that second to last yellow, as well, I think it was Ferrucci ahead, then me. When he pitted, we had four or five laps that we went hard and tried to stretch the field a little bit. That kind of made our race,” Lundqvist continued.

“We came out with sticker reds, no fuel saving. Came out with a bunch of guys that had 25 laps on their tires, a bunch of fuel saving to do.

“That was a fun stint for me. When the guys came on the radio said I was third, I couldn’t believe it. At the same time, I was passing people like Palou. They’re usually high up, we can’t be doing too bad.

“Super happy and super proud of this for the whole 8 crew. It’s amazing,” Lundqvist concluded.


Lundqvist’s podium finish improved him to eighth in the INDYCAR standings heading into the month of May at Indianapolis. (Photo: Joe Skibinski | Penske Entertainment)

During the final run, Lundqvist had a chance to perhaps move up one more spot when fellow rookie Christian Rasmussen lost control and stalled in Turn 13, bringing out the fourth and final caution of the 85-lap race. However, the two-lap shootout did not quite work out for Lundqvist as eventual race winner Scott McLaughlin quickly pulled away and he was not able to get by Will Power and deny Team Penske a 1-2 finish.

Regarding the final restart, Lundqvist described it as okay, but felt momentarily he had something on Power before such opportunity evaporated. Despite the chance of further glory, he was not pleased about the final caution coming out with five laps remaining.

“Actually, for half a second, I thought I could give Will a run for his money there into five. Not really,” said Lundqvist. “I think these guys were obviously the pace of the field today. I was able to hold off fairly easily from Palou. I think he still had some fuel saving or old tires.

“When the yellow came out, I wasn’t too happy. I was happy with the gap that we had.”

Lundqvist’s road to the podium can be credited to his No. 8 Ganassi crew, which he listened to and committed to their game plan. The Swede did not sell himself short, however, being pleased on his fuel saving and tire conservation in order for him to put himself in the spot he ended up in on Sunday.

“Big thing was strategy, honestly. I was a fairly small part in this I felt like. I just basically listened to the team,” Lundqvist commented. “I think I did a pretty good job on the fuel saving in the beginning which meant we could always overcut. We saved a little bit of tires when we did have clean air.

“It was after that second to last restart, we were able to push hard, stretch the field a little bit. When we came out, we were in a very good position. That kind of made our race. I got a number to hit, and they kind of said to push as hard as you can. That’s what I did.”


Linus Lundvist hopes to be “the one” folks talk about at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. (Photo: Joe Skibinski | Penske Entertainment)

Heading into the month of May at Indianapolis, Lundqvist moved up from 17th entering Barber to eighth in points, trailing points leader Colton Herta by 39 points. With a maiden INDYCAR podium under his belt, Lundqvist’s excitement level blossomed as it will be the first time he will get to partake in the festivities and grind that Indy provides to a competitor.

“The month of May is obviously going to be big, doing it for the first time. You hear so much about it. Being able to participate is like a dream come true,” said Lundqvist.

“We’re obviously here to do a job. Ganassi has had a record of having very good cars at the 500. I’m excited to feel that out. I also realize it’s going to be a learning curve. The field is so competitive nowadays, you’ll take anything you can possibly get.

“Obviously, this is a nice boost of confidence. We’ll have a week off, but we’re back at it again for the GP and obviously the big one. Just back to work.”

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR and INDYCAR. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. On the side, I also do sports production ranging from Seattle Kraken hockey to the 2023 NCAA Women's March Madness. All for the love of the game. With four National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. At times, there might be some Paul Thomas Anderson and Southern California references in my social media.

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