Lundqvist: Franchitti a “great, great resource” as the Swede looks to kick on from first IndyCar podium at Barber

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | Joe Skibinski
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NTT IndyCar rookie Linus Lundquist heads to Indy for the month of May with momentum and the lead in the Rookie of the Year standings.

The young Swede earned his first career IndyCar podium at Barber last month. He came through from P14 following his final stop to finish a superb 3rd as going long before his final stop enabled him to pass all the fuel saving runners with ease.

“Getting your first IndyCar podium is a big deal,” he said, “And you only get to do it once.”

Lundqvist recognizes that IndyCar is one of the most challenging racing series in the world.

“There are probably 15 drivers that can win championships, you know, given the right circumstances,” he said.

“Which means that if you make one mistake, you’re gonna end up being P16, P18, or P20.”

Lundqvist feels that Indy NXT prepares drivers for the NTT IndyCar Series and isn’t concerned that drivers from F2 have migrated from Europe.

“It’s good to see the European drivers come over here, but I also think that the Indy NXT drivers, if they can win a championship, I think they should be given a shot in the car.”

Lundqvist feels the progression from the Indy NXT chassis to the heavier IndyCar chassis is natural.

“Firstly, obviously, you go to the same tracks, which helps a lot, but I think, as well, your general driving style is quite similar in the Indy NXT car and the IndyCar.”

Lundqvist knows he is in a good position as the series heads to the Indy Grand Prix and 500.

“It’s nice, you know, the podium we had at Barber,” he said. “The confidence grew, and it’s a nice feeling going into the month of May with that, so hopefully we can keep this momentum going for a good string of results here.”

For the Indy Grand Prix, Lundqvist will be racing for the first time on a track where he has previously raced an IndyCar for Meyer Shank.

“I think it’s just a general comfort going back to a place where, firstly, I’ve had some history racing there in Indy Lights and did pretty well, but more so having an IndyCar race under your belt on that track, you know what to expect.”

The Indy NXT champion knows he still has much to learn but is optimistic about the future after his finish at Barber.

“I think we definitely took a step [forward],” he said. “I think proving to ourselves that when everything comes together, we are able to fight for wins and podium.

Lundqvist, with one oval race in an IndyCar under his belt, is looking forward to getting time behind the wheel and turning laps at the speedway.

“Obviously, we’ve got plenty of practice sessions ahead, which is nice for me,” he said. “The first, the biggest one for me is just gonna be [getting] comfortable in traffic, and then we’ll see how long that takes.”

“You know, it might take the whole month, and I might not even be comfortable after the 500,” he said. “Who knows? But I think the biggest thing for me is getting used to having 30 cars around you.”

The fact that Chip Ganassi has an enormous amount of experience at Indy is not lost on Lundqvist. He understands that he has been given a fantastic opportunity to rely on the advice of multi-time champions Scott Dixon and Alex Palou.

“The things I can learn from them is too long to touch on here,” Lundqvist said. “I still have a lot of learning to do, especially during this month, with the Indy 500 race coming up.”

Along with his teammates, Lundquist has a three-time Indy 500 winner available to offer him advice in Ganassi driver coach Dario Franchitti.

“When it comes to race situations and anything that you have any questions or even have a slight wonder about, he knows the answer to it,” said Lundqvist.

“And it’s incredible like it happened so many, many times over the past couple of weekends, where I’m feeling a little bit lost, and you ask him, ‘hey, am I struggling with this?”

“He’ll tell you whether he thinks it’s you or something to improve the car or something else to try,” he said. “He’s been a great, great resource.”

Lundqvist is taking a grateful view of his first 500.

“I’m very privileged to be one of the few people that will do the Indy 500 or attempt to qualify at least for the Indianapolis 500.

“I think I can owe it to myself to, now and again, just take a moment and appreciate this journey that we’ve been on and in the moment that we’re going to experience it.”

As for the on the track results, he is more pragmatic.

“I don’t have a position of finishing saying that ‘hey, I’m happy with this or sad with that,’ I think it’s just about maximizing whatever we got,” he said. “And if that’s ten, then I’m gonna be happy with ten.”

“If it’s a win, I’ll be happy with that. But even if it’s a P15, like if that’s what we had that day and we did a good race, then I’m going to have to be pleased with it,” he said. 

“It doesn’t mean that I’ll be happy and satisfied, but I think you gotta kind of look at parts of the race and whatever we had and make sure that we maximize whatever package and position we were in.”