Christian Lundgaard’s performance in his first full NTT INDYCAR SERIES season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has earned the 21-year-old Dane a new long-term agreement with the team, it was announced Tuesday.
The restructuring of Lundgaard’s agreement comes as he takes a commanding 41-point lead in the Rookie of the Year standings into this weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline at World Wide Technology Raceway. The race airs live Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on USA Network and Peacock Premium with coverage on the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Lundgaard earned an NTT INDYCAR SERIES career-best finish of second place at the Gallagher Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on July 30 and followed that up with his highest series start – third place – in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville on Aug. 6.
“I have to say a big thanks to (team co-owners) Bobby (Rahal), David (Letterman) and Mike (Lanigan) for giving me this opportunity to extend my time with the team,” Lundgaard said. “We’ve had some good results lately, and I’m sure this has also helped their decision.
“First of all, I’m just happy and super excited that they gave me this opportunity. A year ago at the (Aug. 14 road race at IMS), we qualified well (fourth) and they decided that they wanted me for a full season (in 2022). We’ve made the most of the opportunity so far. I’m sure there are times when we could have performed better but now we have the opportunity to continue this progress.
“We’ve been to a lot of tracks so far and have come back to some and finished on the podium, which I hope to continue. Qualifying third in Nashville was a big milestone for me. Making the Fast Six – and not being at the end of the Fast Six but actually having a shot at competing for the pole – was a great experience for me. We didn’t quite finish where we wanted (he finished eighth) but it was good to have that experience and now everyone is making the most of it.”
Being 15th in the overall driver standings does not reflect how competitive Lundgaard has been this season. He trails a 10-year Formula One veteran – second-year NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Romain Grosjean of Andretti Autosport – by a single point and he is only nine points behind RLL teammate Graham Rahal. One-time series champion Simon Pagenaud of Meyer Shank Racing is only 12 points in front of Lundgaard, and that’s 12th place.
A strong finish to the season could Lundgaard an even higher standings position. It would take a gain of only 28 points to reach Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing in the 11th spot.
“I am so pleased with Christian’s progress with the team and within the series,” Rahal said. “He has shown that he can be a force to be reckoned with in these races.
“He works well within the team, and we are pleased that we are continuing for the next several years because I believe he will continue to improve and be a potential winner in the very near future.”
Lanigan said Lundgaard’s “approach and professionalism continues to impress us and his performance, especially in the second half of the season, speaks volumes about his potential.”
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR STANDINGS
Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 272 points
David Malukas, Dale Coyne Racing with HMD, 231 points
Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing, 181 points
Devlin DeFrancesco, Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport, 159 points
Kyle Kirkwood, AJ Foyt Racing, 144 points
Tatiana Calderon, AJ Foyt Racing, 58 points
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Friday: NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, 1-2 p.m.; Indy Lights practice, 3:10-4 p.m.; NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying, 4:15-5:15 p.m.; Indy Lights qualifying, 6:15-6:45 p.m.; NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, 6-6:30 p.m. and 6:45-7:45 p.m.
Saturday: Indy Lights race, 4:15 p.m.; NTT INDYCAR SERIES' Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline, 6 p.m. (USA Network and the INDYCAR Radio Network).