NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Linus Lundqvist proved why he is the class of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires field this season, leading all 35 laps from pole Sunday to win the Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville.
Lundqvist earned his series-leading fifth victory this season in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry, beating second place Sting Ray Robb to the checkered flag by 7.2221 seconds in the caution-free race.
Lundqvist expanded his series lead to a commanding 95 points with just four races remaining this season.
Linus Lundqvist celebrates in victory lane. (Al Steinberg photo)
The Swedish driver was fourth quickest in both practice sessions this weekend but started from pole when the field was set by entrant points after qualifying was canceled Saturday due to thunderstorms.
“So excited and so, so happy,” Lundqvist said. “We showed that we had the pace on street courses. In practice, I just had to dial myself in a little bit. Obviously, we got maybe a little bit lucky with qualifying, but I think we showed in the race that we had the pace to win.”
Andretti Autosport teammates Robb and Hunter McElrea finished second and third, respectively.
Robb passed McElrea on lap 32 for second, the highlight of a stirring duel between the duo for many laps on the 11-turn, 2.1-mile temporary street circuit that includes two trips per lap over the Cumberland River via the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge.
Matthew Brabham finished fourth in the No. 83 Andretti Autosport car, with Christian Rasmussen rounding out a 2-3-4-5 result for Andretti Autosport in the No. 28 Road to Indy/Stellrecht entry.
McElrea stayed close to Lundqvist for the first six laps around the tricky, bumpy circuit. McElrea nearly hit the rear of Lundqvist’s car in Turn 4, exiting the bridge on Lap 5 as he tried to look for an opening.
But Lundqvist gradually pulled away, growing his lead to .9513 of a second on lap 10 and 6.3779 seconds by lap 25.
Lundqvist’s checkout from the rest of the field shined a spotlight on the fierce race for second between teammates Robb and McElrea. Robb looked for a way past many times over the closing half of the race. He finally made the decisive pass on lap 32 as both drivers exited the bridge and headed toward Turn 9.
Robb’s No. 2 Sekady car and McElrea’s No. 27 Andretti Autosport machine made contact, but Robb quickly gathered himself and dove under McElrea for second place.
McElrea’s car appeared damaged from the contact, and Robb drove away to beat his teammate to the finish by 3.1723 seconds.
While Lundqvist holds a lead of nearly two races’ worth of points over second-place McElrea, the tight duel between Robb and McElrea mirrors the race for second in the standings. McElrea leads third-place Robb by just eight points, with Andretti Autosport teammate Matthew Brabham just 20 points behind McElrea in fourth.