Lundqvist says he was “a fairly small part” in charge to first IndyCar podium finish at Barber, credits CGR for strategy

Linus Lundqvist on the podium with his trophy at Barber Motorsports Park
Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | Joe Skibinski
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Linus Lundqvist is eagerly anticipating the month of May, which culminates with the Indy 500, after taking his maiden IndyCar podium at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Swede drove to third place after picking his way through the field from 19th on the grid for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Lundqvist is looking forward to his first Indy 500 and keeping up Ganassi’s precedent of being competitive at The Brickyard.

“The month of May is going to be big, doing it for the first time. You hear so much about it. Being able to participate is like a dream come true.

“We’re obviously here to do a job. Ganassi has had a record of having very good cars at the 500. I’m excited to feel that out.

“I also realise it’s going to be a learning curve. The field is so competitive nowadays that you’ll take anything you can possibly get.”

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver managed the 90-lap race at Barber to perfection, making minimal errors and executing the strategy, allowing him to overcut and extend his stints further than his rivals.

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Jones

Lundqvist put the podium down to a team effort and making the most of the tyres finite amount of grip.

He led from laps 66-69, the first time he has run in P1 during his short career in the series to date.

“Big thing was strategy. I was a fairly small part in this I felt like. I just basically listened to the team. I think I did a pretty good job on the fuel saving in the beginning which meant we could always overcut. We saved a little bit of tyres when we did have clean air.

“It was after that second to last restart, we were able to push hard, stretch the field a little bit. When we came out, we were in a very good position. That kind of made our race.

“I got a number to hit, and they said to push as hard as you can. That’s what I did.”

Lundqvist admitted it was a shock regarding how much faster he could go when he had clean air, adding into the mix that he had been saving fuel throughout the race to that point as well.

“Yeah, it was unbelievable. As soon as we got some clean air, it was like, ‘Holy shit, we can go fast’.

“Like I said, the three quarters of the race was basically save fuel, try to stay safe. People were kind of being very aggressive out there. It was just like keep it on track, try to save as much fuel as you can.

“Hopefully that will set us up later in the race. That’s exactly what I did.

“Obviously we had a couple of moments where they said it was time to go hard. We had enough tyres and fuel to do that. I kind of set us up for that last stint.”

He overtook Grosjean, Rahal, Herta, Kirkwood, Lundgaard, Armstrong, Rosenqvist and Palou after his final stop as he had a fuel and tyre advantage over those two-stopping cars who pitted under the caution that came out on lap 56, allowing him to charge through to P3.

The Swede’s podium leaves him eighth in the standings after failing to break into the top 10 at St. Pete and Long Beach.

Lundqvist said he has learned a great deal from his more experienced teammates, Alex Palou and Scott Dixon, particularly about fuel saving.

“Life at Ganassi has been great. The whole team is so talented, from the floor, the shop, to the top guys with Mike [Hull] and Chip [Ganassi] running the whole team.

“As a rookie, you come in, you’re sitting in debriefs across from Alex and Scott. What better place would you want to be at? Even the fuel saving that I did now was a big learning thing that I got from Scott, who did it last week at Long Beach.”