Seeing Linus Lundqvist’s name on the time sheet after Friday’s practice for the Monterey Indy Lights Grand Prix isn’t much of a surprise, as Lundqvist just needs to race Saturday in the first race of the weekend’s doubleheader to clinch the season championship.
But his name in second place after practice raised a few eyebrows in the paddock at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
See: Practice results
Sweden’s Lundqvist led the 50-minute session with a best lap time of 1 minute, 16.2159 seconds in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car. His new teammate this weekend was 17-year-old Nolan Siegel, who was second in his Indy Lights debut with a 1:16.9746 in the 11 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing.
“Great first practice,” Lundqvist said. “Numbers don’t really tell the whole story. I wish it was, but Nolan and I were the only ones who got a proper run on the new tires. That’s why it’s so different nowadays.
“But before that, I think it’s pretty close, when everybody’s got old (tyres). Five men in the tenth. So, I’m looking forward to some close qualifying and fun races.”
Indy Lights concludes the season with a doubleheader featuring 35-lap races. Saturday’s showdown is scheduled for 3:25 p.m. ET, with the capper Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Both races will be broadcast live on Peacock Premium, INDYCAR Live. and INDYCAR Radio Network. Qualifying is set for 12:30 ET Saturday, live on INdyCAR! and INDYCAR Radio Network.
Lundqvist has a 103-point lead over Matthew Brabham and has won five of the 12 races so far. He will take the green flag and win his first lights championship on Saturday.
From Palo Alto, Calif., Siegel, after winning two races in the recently concluded Indy Pro 2000, makes the jump to Indy Lights this weekend in the Cooper Tire Championship, the middle of the three official development series leading up to the NTT INDYCAR Series.
“It turned out great,” Siegel said. I’m not sure how the actual speed is. I went to (new) tires, and I’m not sure who else did. But P2 is off to a very strong start in the first practice session. It’s definitely a strong start, and I’m looking to build on that in Qualifying and running.
Brabham finished third with a 1:17.5963 in the No. 83 Andretti Autosport entry on the 11-lap, 2.258-mile circuit through the complexities of the “Cork Cru” turns. Daniel Frost finished fourth with a 1:17.6377 in the No. 68 HMD Motorsports car of Dale Coyne Racing.
Benjamin Pedersen, who earned his first career Lights victory last weekend in Portland, rounded out the top five in the 24 Global Racing Team with a 1:17.6575 with an HMD entry.
There were two red flags during the session. The first came 21 minutes after the green flag when Christian Bogle went into turn 6 and blew a tire on the turn 7 HMD. Motorsports is hitting the road with Dale Coyne Racing. Bogle was not injured.
Sting Ray Rob’s No. 2 Secadi car suffered a mechanical problem that triggered the second red flag and stopped on the course near Turn 2 with five minutes to go.
Indie Light Series PR