Photo: Lisa Hurley/Penske Entertainment

‘To End Up Fourth is a Win,’ Lundgaard says of GMR Grand Prix Result

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

Christian Lundgaard came into Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course riding high on a wave of confidence after winning his first pole, but it was not to be for the 21-year-old as he had to settle for a fourth-place result.

In his short time in the series, the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course has been Lundgaard’s best track on the circuit with his career best finish of second coming last season, so it wasn’t a stretch to believe that he could finish one place better on Saturday.

It started off as a banner weekend not only for Lundgaard, but for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing as a whole, with all three of its Hondas rolling off from the top-10 when the green flag dropped. Though the team’s other two drivers, Graham Rahal and Jack Harvey, ran into issues throughout the day, Lundgaard stood strong as the bright spot for the team as the race played out.

While he may have dropped from the lead shortly after the race began, Lundgaard stayed in the fight throughout the day, hoping the strategy would fall his way in his bid to finally score a win in the NTT IndyCar Series.

However, he’ll have to wait another day to be called an IndyCar race winner as the race didn’t play out in his favor as he brought his machine home in fourth after leading 13 laps.

“Right now, I’m satisfied with a fourth, but it was a tough day,” Lundgaard said. “The No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda has just been quick all weekend. It wasn’t as quick today unfortunately. To come home with fourth, there was a point in this race where I thought we wouldn’t finish in the top-10 with the pace and balance of the car.

“To end up fourth is a win right now, but I think we need to look at the perspective of how great performance wise we’ve been all weekend. That’s the positive to take from this weekend. We’ll move on now that we’ve kickstarted the Month of May.”

The turning point for Lundgaard came when his team elected to put on a previously used set of Firestone alternates at Lap 42, which caused a balance shift in his car for the duration of that run and left him struggling with the handling through the third stint of the 85-lap race.

Lundgaard was able to switch to the primary tires for the final run to the finish, but by then he had lost too much ground to the top-three as he powered through to the checkered to bank his best finish of the season.

“It was strange because that one set, the rears were going off, but the previous red set, I was just understeering like crazy,” Lundgaard explained. “So, I didn’t really understand how we got the balance so wrong, but again, it’s things we need to learn from now on. Of course, it was a set that we ran in the Fast Six and we’re not in the Fast Six that often.

“These are the things that we need to learn moving on, moving forward, so we’ll try our best.”

The focus now shifts to the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28th. Practice begins on Tuesday, May 16th, leading up to qualifying weekend to set the 33-car field on May 20th and 21st.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.