The 2022 Indy NXT champion was compelled to take a seat on the sidelines for almost all of the season, however turned his solely alternative right into a proverbial golden ticket heading into subsequent yr. Whereas different Indy NXT champions acquired a $1 million prize to maneuver as much as the IndyCar Collection, he was compelled to simply accept a test for half that quantity.
In flip, the Swede was left taking part in the ready sport, and was referred to as upon by Meyer Shank Racing to substitute for the not-medically-cleared Simon Pagenaud after a violent observe crash at Mid-Ohio. He certified a stout eleventh in his debut on the Streets of Nashville, and adopted it up with a twelfth place begin and end throughout the Brickyard weekend on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway street course. He back-ended his trio of begins with a end of 18th in his solely oval begin at Gateway. In two of his three appearances, he was the highest-finishing rookie.
These performances, whereas minimal, have been sufficient to get the eye of Chip Ganassi Racing. On 31 August, Lundqvist signed a multi-year deal that places him on the grid full-time starting in 2024, and with an organisation that has received the IndyCar title two of the previous three season.
Throughout 24-year-old’s Rookie Orientation Program on Wednesday, all the pieces got here full circle because it was not solely his first-ever run behind the wheel of a Ganassi machine, but additionally pushing laps of practically 220mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – a spot that he earned the chance to compete at in Could, however circumstantial destiny dictated in any other case.
“It is tough to place into phrases how cool it really is,” Lundqvist mentioned. “So lengthy you have been on the sidelines watching this race for a lot of, a few years and to now really be driving it, it is superior. After which my first ever outing along with Chip Ganassi Racing as nicely makes it double joyful to do that.”
Brad Goldberg, the engineer that helped propel Marcus Ericsson to an Indianapolis 500 victory in 2022, was on the timing stand and dealing with Lundqvist. Though not confirmed, it seems seemingly they are going to be paired collectively for subsequent season, made simpler with Ericsson gone to Andretti International.
Photograph by: Penske Leisure
“Yeah, that is invaluable and that is some of the superb issues about this workforce,” Lundqvist mentioned. “They’ve so many good and competent folks at each stage: engineers, mechanics, you might have Dario (Franchitti) to entry and team-mates with Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, et cetera. It is unbelievable. It is good entry to have as a rookie.”
By the top of the stroll down Gasoline Alley and onto pitlane, Lundqvist was left in awe.
“It is unbelievable as a result of strolling in right here at all times feels very particular,” Lundqvist mentioned. “And even with empty grandstands, you’re feeling very, particular and lucky to be on this place. So, I can solely think about what it is wish to be right here when all of the grandstands are full and there is 300,000 folks right here.”
The day wasn’t with out a second of drama, although. After finishing two phases, Lundqvist’s #8 Honda suffered a tyre failure and briefly halted his third and remaining section.
“We had a tyre trailer, which wasn’t nice,” Lundqvist mentioned. “I am not going to lie, it was somewhat bit scary. However the boys obtained all of it sorted, so we simply placed on a brand new set of tyres after which we did not have any points the remainder of the day.”
Lundqvist steered the incident was resulting from that tyre set, considered one of three offered on the day, reaching the top of its mileage. Then, he paused to absorb the second after finishing ROP accompanied by further afternoon operating, setting a fast time of 219.504 mph and logging 102 whole laps.
He briefly shared ideas on enduring the previous yr and the dramatic flip of occasions.
“I may by no means have guessed that at first of the yr, but when any individual advised me that: ‘Hey, for those who sit out for many a part of 2023 after which you find yourself with Ganassi for 2024,’ I’d take that deal, for certain,” Lundqvist mentioned. “So, it ended up in an excellent place.”
Linus Lundqvist, Meyer Shank Racing Honda
Photograph by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images