The championship battles are all but wrapped up in Indy Lights and Indy Pro 2000 following the race weekend at Gateway, as Linus Lundqvist and Louis Foster book their tickets to the next level.
By Jeroen Demmendaal
You won’t catch him saying it out loud, but Linus Lundqvist would have to face misfortune of biblical proportions in the final three races of the 2022 Indy Lights season to miss out on the title this year. The 23-year-old Swede finished second behind Matthew Brabham this weekend after a race-long battle at the Gateway oval on the border of Illinois and Missouri and now has a 108-point cushion over the Australian-American with three races to go.
With 162 points left in the championship and a field of thirteen competitors, that means simply starting those last three races already gives Lundqvist another 51 points and a 159-point advantage. So while Andretti Autosport is likely to be the dominant force at Laguna Seca, as it has been in recent years, that debate might become academic already in Portland if Lundqvist finishes in the top half of the field there.
I do this because I love winning and I want to win racesLinus Lundqvist
“Yeah, my engineer did the math and said that basically we have to show up,” laughs Lundqvist when F1 Feeder Series spoke to him two days after the Gateway race. “That’s great and all, but honestly, I do this because I love winning and I want to win races. So we’re going to show up at Portland and Laguna Seca and try and win a few more. But of course, it’s nice to have that buffer.”
That gap of two days also means that any annoyance about losing the Gateway win has subsided somewhat. Lundqvist sounds philosophical about the weekend.
“It always sucks when you lose the lead with just a few laps to go. But I felt already after the first ten laps or so that Matthew had the pace on us. I think we did well, also because I almost lost the car a few times! And I was super proud after the pole lap on Saturday, so it was a good weekend and a good result. We had a pretty good pace advantage, but during the race they were somehow faster. You gotta give it to him, Brabham is a real good oval racer and has tons of experience with it. On days like that, you just got to tip your hat and say well done.”
Asked about his options for 2023 and graduating to the NTT IndyCar Series, Lundqvist says that he would love to be able to announce something. “I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have been in contact with every team in the paddock, but there are not a lot of options right now. I want to believe we did a good enough job to show that we belong in IndyCar. I can offer a good driver and hopefully soon a scholarship, and I think that’s a pretty good offer!”
Foster continues to fly
In Indy Pro 2000, the outcome is equally certain following the race in Illinois. After finishing fourth at Gateway, young Briton Louis Foster has a 77-point gap to Reece Gold, with only 99 points up for grabs during the triple-header season finale in Portland. With that in mind, simply starting those three races and capturing 18 or 21 points will be enough for 18-year-old Foster, depending on how many cars will compete in Oregon. Even if there are fifteen or more entries, consider that Foster and Exclusive Autosport have finished in the top-four in all but three races this season.
Meanwhile, his main rival Reece Gold has struggled to break into the top-three recently and has scored only one podium in his green Juncos Hollinger Racing machine in the last seven races. That means the odds of the Floridian scoring a hat-trick of wins are rather long.
Assuming Foster wraps up the title early on in Portland it will land him a scholarship of $614,000 and some change to make the step up to Indy Lights. F1 Feeder Series understands that Foster is close to agreeing a deal with a front-running team in Indy Lights and it will be exciting to see him challenge at the highest level of the Road to Indy. His rival Gold is also understood to have an agreement in place that allows him to graduate to Lights in 2023.
Header photo credit: Penske Entertainment, James Black
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