Monday, March 27, 2023

Christian Lundgaard Leads Veteran Teammates in Toronto Qualifying by Starting 10th

Christian Lundgaard practices on the streets of Toronto for the 2022 Honda Indy Toronto.
Christian Lundgaard practices on the streets of Toronto for the 2022 Honda Indy Toronto. Photo courtesy of Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment.

TORONTO — In his first visit to the streets of Toronto around Exhibition Place, Christian Lundgaard scored his second best qualifying result of the 2022 IndyCar Series season with a 10th-place effort.

Lundgaard’s fastest lap of 59.9151 seconds averaged out to 107.312 mph around the 11-turn, 1.786 mile street circuit. The Danish rookie was 0.3275 seconds slower than Scott McLaughlin who was the final driver to advance to the Firestone Fast Six where Colton Herta claimed his second pole position of the 2022 IndyCar season.

The No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda was the highest placed car from the RLLR squad as Jack Harvey qualified 13th ahead of Graham Rahal in 14th. Harvey is also making his IndyCar debut at Exhibition Place, but has three Indy Lights races at this circuit in 2014/2015.

Lundgaard was sixth fastest in his group in the first round of qualifying, allowing him to advance to Round 2. However, the pace did not come in quick enough to move Lundgaard further up the grid despite having what appeared to be a faster setup at the start of the weekend.

“We’ve got to make the most of it,” Lundgaard said. “We didn’t, I think we had slightly more in it today. I don’t think we had a Fast Six, we could been around P7 or P8 a good day and we didn’t make it happen.”

The first Canadian IndyCar race weekend since 2019 started off with Lundgaard in 11th at the end of Friday’s practice session and fifth fastest in the Saturday morning session. Rahal was seventh in the Saturday practice session after being third fastest on Friday, so something has definitely been working well with the RLLR setups.

Of course, sometimes some things work better than others from driver to driver in the same team.

“I’m not going to lie, there are some places on the track he’s quicker than I am, where I just can’t seem to figure out what he’s doing even though I know what he’s doing,” Lundgaard said about Rahal to “It just doesn’t seem to work for me, so he’s got some old tricks.”

Lundgaard’s best qualifying position of the season was eighth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course back in May. While the RLLR team has had difficult weekends as they are fielding three cars on a full-time basis for the first time since 2006, the Brownsburg-based team have seemed to have found a rhythm around Toronto.

“I know the basics of racing, I know how to drive a car fast, as a team we haven’t had it,” Lundgaard said. “I mean, it’s been pretty clear that we’ve struggled. We’ve been quite close to each other, even on pace, but also on position, but not in the end (of the grid) we want to be. So once we fix fix that, I think we will all be fighting for wins and podiums.”

Harvey and Rahal were both the first car on the timing sheet that failed to advance from their respective qualifying groups. Harvey was 0.0995 seconds slower than Scott McLaughlin in the first group of round one while Rahal in the second group was on a lap that was fast enough to get to the second round of qualifying before a red flag for Kyle Kirkwood’s incident at the end of the group’s running time halted Rahal’s run.

Lundgaard was still upbeat about Toronto as a whole, despite not advancing. 

“The city is awesome, just getting to see the atmosphere here,” Lundgaard said. “It’s a big crowd, even today. So I think tomorrow is for sure going to be exciting. It’s good to get out of the states as well. I wish we could go go more places.”

The 85-lap race will be broadcast live exclusively on Peacock starting at 3:00 p.m. ET with the race beginning a half hour later.

Follow @CDeHarde on Twitter.

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