Friday, December 9, 2022

Rookie Christian Lundgaard Paces Eventful Opening IndyCar Practice in Nashville

Christian Lundgaard at Detroit
Christian Lundgaard put down the fastest time in opening practice in Nashville. Image courtesy of Karl Zemlin / Penske Entertainment

Christian Lundgaard rolled to the top of the timesheets in opening practice for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old Danish driver, fresh off a career-best runner-up finish last weekend on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, carried the momentum into the Streets of Nashville with a flying lap of 1m15.9659s (99.518 mph) to pace the session.

Lundgaard, a rookie in the NTT IndyCar Series that pilots the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, was the only driver to put a lap under the 1m16s bracket around the 11-turn, 2.1-mile temporary street circuit.


Felix Rosenqvist continued his strong pace through the last half of the season, elevating the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet to second overall, 0.2391s behind the top spot.

The third spot belonged to another rookie with David Malukas in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda. The Team Penske duo of Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden ended up fourth and fifth, respectively.

Last weekend’s race winner, Alexander Rossi, was the highest of the Andretti Autosport group in sixth. Championship leader Will Power placed his No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet in seventh.

Colton Herta, last year’s pole-sitter of this event, was eighth in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda.

Reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou posted ninth in the session, ahead of Romain Grosjean.

Defending race winner Marcus Ericsson put the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 11th overall, followed by the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda of Simon Pagenaud.

Rookie Callum Ilott pounded the pavement with a session-best 31 laps, with his best proving to be 13th on the timesheets in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet.

Pato O’Ward’s No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet was 14th, with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato coming away 15th.

There were numerous incidents during the 1h15m session, beginning with mechanical issues early for four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves’ No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda. The crew managed to overcome the issues get the 47-year-old Brazilian back out on track, but endured another setback after a momentary slide under braking entering Turn 6 led to the right-rear to kick out and make contact with the wall. The incident forced him to slowly make his return around the track towards pit lane with a suspected bent toe link.

Castroneves and Co. were already under the gun after being being hit with a six-place starting grid penalty for an unapproved engine change ahead of the weekend.

There were also three red flags in the session. The first came after Dalton Kellett’s No. 4 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet stopped in the runoff area in Turn 1 roughly 20 minutes into practice. The session resumed a few minutes later, but five minutes into green flag running a second stoppage came out for Rinuv VeeKay’s No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet stopped in the runoff area in Turn 3.

There was an extended running under green flag conditions until around 22 minutes to go when Herta stopped off course in Turn 1. It ended up only being a brief red flag as the practice resumed with 20 minutes remaining.

Up Next: The second practice for the NTT IndyCar Series is set for Saturday at 12:15 p.m. ET, with live coverage on Peacock, the IndyCar Radio Network and IndyCar Live!

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