Linus Lundqvist

Linus Lundqvist received some great advice from fellow Swede and 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack that has left an impact on his young career.

“He told me one thing that really stuck with me,” Lundqvist said. “He said: ‘The most important thing is to win. Everything else is secondary. Everything else will sort itself out eventually.’ And I like to believe that he was right. And I still believe that is the way of doing things, that winning and performance should always be number one. Everything else is a number two priority.”

Heeding that advice is why the 24-year-old will drive for Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Lundqvist won eight races in his two seasons in INDY NXT by Firestone, a perfect pairing for an owner like Ganassi who likes winners.

Lundqvist is a winner. Always has been, out of necessity to earn scholarship funds or sponsorships to continue his driving career. He said next season will be the first in his career with a contract or the budget for an entire campaign.

“I don’t think I’ve entered a single season throughout my career knowing that I was actually going to finish the year,” Lundqvist said. “It’s always been, if I had half a budget or 25% or 75% of a budget. That’s definitely the biggest obstacle that I’ve had, not knowing where I’m going to finish the year or even if I’m going to finish the year.”

Lundqvist embraced that pressure and followed Brack’s advice by winning.

“Yeah, it’s always kept me on my toes,” he said. “Many times, what saved me is that we won races and maybe led the championship, but the team says, ‘We’re not going to put you out of the seat right now.’ At the end of the day, the race teams want to win, too.”

In two seasons in INDY NXT by Firestone, Lundqvist won eight times in just 34 starts. He won the 2022 championship. Then the waiting game started.

Lundqvist patiently stayed in the INDYCAR and INDY NXT paddock during race weekends last year, working and waiting for his phone to ring. It finally did last July when Meyer Shank Racing called about being a substitute driver for an injured Simon Pagenaud.

“I think in a funny way, it almost prepared me for the opportunity that I got this year to (drive) with Meyer Shank Racing,” he said. “I knew that this is my one chance to perform and show what I have. In a funny way, my whole career has been leading and preparing me for that one moment. I like to look at it that way now.”

Those three races as a substitute, with finishes of 25th, 12th and 18th and strong qualifying efforts, led to an opportunity in 2024 with Chip Ganassi Racing. However, if not for a moment nearly two decades prior, he may have headed down a different road.

Lundqvist was in neighboring Finland visiting his stepfather’s family. While at an amusement park, Lundqvist and his family wanted to drive go-karts. Unfortunately, Lundqvist was too small to drive. His stepdad, Benny, decided to take him for a ride in one of the two-seat karts.

“I just thought that this was the best thing that I've ever experienced,” Lundqvist said.

At that moment, Lundqvist knew he wanted more, especially steering the wheel and pushing the pedals. When the family returned to Sweden, they found a kart small enough for a 5-year-old could drive. Once they secured it, the next step was literally searching on Google for area go-kart tracks.

“I got to drive, try it myself. Absolutely enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “And then I just had the love and the support of my family. So, they said, if this is what you want to pursue, then we'll make it happen. So, then we bought a go-kart, threw it in the back of our car, and then we literally Googled go-kart races near me. Then we just drove to a race, had no idea at all – like heat and qualifying and finals – had no idea about nothing.

“We formed a family team. I was a driver. Benny, my stepdad, was a mechanic. He brought on some of his co-workers to be like second mechanic. His brother was a race engineer, had never been a race engineer. We built that team pretty much with whatever we had around us. We were able to win the championship the second year. We did it at a pretty high level still.

“From that point on, we just continued to learn little by little. And here we are 18 some years later.

“It’s just about winning. I’ve always been very competitive, even as a young kid. I think that just kept with me. I remember the very first moment that I won a race in karting. It was 2010, and I remember that feeling, standing at the top of the podium and realizing this is the feeling I’m going to chase my whole life to try and replicate. And that’s what I’ve done so far.

“I still love it as much today as I did back then.”