Christian Rasmussen hopes, and believes, this is only the beginning of what could be a strong second half of the season in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.
In the most recent race at Road America June 12, the Copenhagen, Denmark, native scored his first career Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires win in the No. 28 Road to Indy / Stellrecht car for Andretti Autosport.
Rasmussen had been close to winning before, like when he led at the season-opening race at St. Petersburg coming to the white flag when he had a mechanical failure.
In other races, bad luck and crashes have prevented stronger finishes for 2021 Indy Pro 2000 champion Rasmussen. He’s sixth in the Indy Lights championship standings, 115 points back of leader Linus Lundqvist.
But finally, Rasmussen has a win attached to his name.
“It was amazing,” he said of winning at the 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. “I feel like we've deserved it for quite a while, so finally getting it done was great. Finally getting it done and getting the podium home with us was a great feeling.”
His win in the seventh of 14 races this season marked the halfway point for the series as it takes a two week break before getting back in action Sunday, July 3 for Indy Lights at Mid-Ohio (10:35 a.m. ET, live on Peacock Premium and INDYCAR Radio Network).
It also provided an opportunity for Rasmussen and his Andretti Autosport team to evaluate their performance over the first half of the season. Aside from his win, he has one additional podium, a second in the second Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course race, as well a fourth in the first IMS road course race.
Rasmussen was in line to win at St. Petersburg until his mechanical failure relegated him to 12th, and he finished 11th at Barber Motorsports Park after an incident prevented a better result.
His win at Road America came after what he described as one of the worst racing weekends of his career at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, in which he finished 13th in both races of a doubleheader weekend in Detroit after contact took him out of each race early.
Rasmussen chalks some of it up to bad luck, as well as mistakes to learn from as a rookie driver in the developmental series for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. On the bright side, he has shown speed at every track this season.
“I mean, I feel like we were pretty strong,” he said. “I felt we started off pretty strong, as well, we've just had a lot of bad luck. Definitely, it’s all been a good learning experience for me, as well. We've been we've been quick in almost every single event; I just have had no results to show for it.”
That speed gives Rasmussen optimism he’ll contend for more wins in the second half of the season, which features races at Mid-Ohio, Iowa Speedway, the Streets of Nashville, World Wide Technology Raceway, Portland International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“Hopefully all the bad luck is out of our way now, and we can just kind of show what we were able to do for the rest of the season,” Rasmussen said. “I think we'll be able to run up front. I think we've shown that on multiple occasions. So hopefully that'll be the case for the rest of the season, as well.
“I'm looking forward to the rest of the season and to show everyone that I'm able to compete for more than just race wins.”
Whether or not Rasmussen, or anyone for that matter, can catch points leader Lundqvist is yet to be seen. Lundqvist has won four of seven races this season and leads Sting Ray Robb by 82 points in the championship.
Rasmussen is sixth in the title race and admits it might be tough to erase his 115-point deficit. The 21-year-old’s goal for the second half of the season is to win races, and he figures that’s the best way to make up a championship gap, too.
The best news for Rasmussen might be that the next race on the calendar is the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, which he feels is his best racetrack.
Since competing at Mid-Ohio in single-seaters dating back to USF2000 in 2019, Rasmussen has won at least one race at Mid-Ohio every race weekend he’s competed there. In all, he has seven wins in 12 starts at the track for a nearly 60 percent winning percentage there.
“I feel good, especially for Mid-Ohio, because the past has been really strong for me,” he said. “I feel like that's a pretty good record to have. Hopefully I can continue that this year and get a win there.”