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Lundgaard’s first podium continues RLL’s drive forward

Lundgaard's first podium continues RLL's drive forward

Christian Lundgaard was on the second step of the podium after finishing second in Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it almost felt like a win.

Rookie Lundgaard, from Denmark, rode to his first podium finish of his career in the No. 30 Shield Cleansers Honda, 3.5441 seconds behind winner Alexander Rossi. He started sixth and this season earned his first place in the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying.

The best result of his career for Lundgaard continued a recent resurgence for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which has had a disappointing season. Teammate Graham Rahal finished seventh in the #15 One Cure Honda on Saturday, while Rahal and Lundgaard finished fourth and eighth respectively in the Honda Indy Toronto on July 17.

“It feels great,” Lundgaard said. “I think the best feeling right now is that the team really deserves it. They’ve worked super hard, and we’ve had such a rough start to the season, and I think coming to Toronto was when things started to change. We saw a kind of streak where we started to perform better.

“To come here and finish second, I think the team deserves everything. I’m just a man doing my job, really. I want to win, so I try to do the best I can in every event.”

It was only fitting that Lundgaard, who turned 21 on July 23, had the best weekend of his young NTT INDYCAR SERIES career at IMS. He qualified fourth in his series debut in this event in August 2021. He also finished ninth in the GMR Grand Prix in May, his best finish this season for eighth place in Toronto.

“It’s my second home,” Lundgaard said. “I like being in Indy.”

Now that he has been on the podium after a road race in the Racing Capital of the World, his next goal is simple: to be victorious on the Victory Podium after winning the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

“We’ll take that next year,” he said with a smile.

But until then, Lundgaard is enjoying the significant improvement over the past month for Rahal Letterman Lanigan. The team – made up of Rahal, Lundgaard and Jack Harvey – only had six top-10 finishes overall until the end of June. It registered six in July.

“I think the results speak for themselves,” Lundgaard said. “I think this weekend we knew we had a strong car.”

And the team’s strong performance complimented the speed of his car.

“We had to perform this weekend,” Lundgaard said. “We knew this was the track where we would at least be most competitive, along with maybe Toronto where we ended up being very competitive. We came to this event and knew we would have a car that could finish in the good end of the top 10.

“I wouldn’t say we outperformed, but we certainly made the most of the package that we had.”

Lundgaard is eager to keep up the momentum. He hopes this success will get the team moving as it moves towards future races, such as this weekend’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville.

“It’s also good for the team that we have a podium now because I think going forward it will be a huge boost for everyone to keep digging,” said Lundgaard. “For me to pull it off just proves that the car was there, and that’s why I really feel the team deserves this podium. I hope there’s more to come.”

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