Indy Lights: 3 Takeaways from Mid-Ohio

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On the surface, it was a calm race around Mid-Ohio for 35 laps. However, as Hunter McElrea took the checkered flag for the first time in his Indy Lights career, it was evident that this year’s visit to Mid-Ohio was all but chill.

While Linus Lundqvist holds an 87-point lead in the standings, I wouldn’t count anyone out just yet. With six races to go, four other drivers sit within 100 points of the 23-year old Swede. Hunter McElrea, competing in his first season in Indy Lights, helped his championship hopes out on Sunday by winning at Mid-Ohio from pole. With the win, the Andretti Autosport driver slides in comfortably to fourth in the championship standings

Top Five

  1. Hunter McElrea, Andretti Autosport – 44:36.176
  2. Matthew Brabham, Andretti Autosport +2.7
  3. Linus Lundqvist, HMD Motorsports +7.1
  4. Christian Rasmussen, Andretti Autosport +8.6
  5. Sting Ray Robb, Andretti Autosport +14.1

Lundqvist Winless Since Detroit

While that headline may not look a bit grim, let us first remember that there have only been two races since the trip to Belle Isle. However, after Lundqvist’s dominant weekend in Detroit in the beginning of June, he hasn’t quite shown the pace he had earlier in this 2022 season. After qualifying sixth at Road America, the HMD driver climbed his way up the field to finish in fourth. However, Sunday morning at Mid-Ohio was different. Lundqvist qualified on the first row, lining up next to McElrea, but was simply outraced over the next 35 laps by McElrea’s teammate Matthew Brabham.

Speaking on his performance on Sunday, Lundqvist said his thoughts were “mixed” and that “It’s been probably our weakest place out of all the tracks…” While that wasn’t immediately clear with Lundqvist’s podium finish, he will have to stay consistent throughout the latter part of the season to try and clinch this championship.

Pedersen Falls Back From Teammate

For the first few races of the season, it appeared as if the championship battle would be between Lundqvist and his HMD teammate Benjamin Pedersen. Pedersen, a native of Copenhagen, racked up second-place finishes at St. Petersburg, Barber, and Detroit but has also had disappointing results like a pair of 11th-place finishes as Indianapolis and Road America.

After missing the first row by just one spot in qualifying, it appeared that a good result was imminent. However, as the race went on, the 22-year old just didn’t have the race pace needed to fight for a podium spot. But an already disappointing race for Pedersen was made worse as he was passed at the final corner of the race by Sting Ray Robb, demoting him to fifth. This result sends Pedersen down to fifth in the standings, 104 points behind teammate Lundqvist.

 

Sweet Victory for McElrea

With driver like Lundqvist, Pedersen, and Robb starting behind him, Hunter McElrea surely thought that he was in for a doozy of a race on Sunday. However, McElrea’s race pace was far clear of the entire field behind him, and he quickly opened up a double digit gap over second-place runner Matthew Brabham. Barring a slight dip into the dirt on lap 14 and an unfortunate caution later in the race, it was generally smooth sailing for the Kiwi.

How was McElrea feeling after his first Indy Lights win at Mid-Ohio? “Relieved and happy.” he answered to that question. While it is just his first season in Indy Lights competition, it was a long time coming for the Andretti driver. After grinding through Australian Formula Ford, USF2000, and Indy Pro 2000 a win was “…really overdue” according to McElrea. With his maiden win, McElrea moves himself up to fourth in the points standings, just two points off of teammate Brabham.

Championship Standings

  1. Linus Lundqvist, HMD Motorpsorts – 350 points
  2. Sting Ray Robb, Andretti Autosport – 263 points
  3. Matthew Brabham, Andretti Autosport – 254 points
  4. Hunter McElrea, Andretti Autosport – 252 points
  5. Benjamin Pedersen, HMD Motorsports – 246 points

For a full rundown of the Indy Lights points standings, click here.

Next on the Schedule

  • July 23rd, 12:15 P.M. EST – Indy Lights at Iowa
  • Iowa Speedway – Newton, Iowa, United States
  • Defending Champion: Pato O’Ward, 2018

Read On: IndyCar: 5 Takeaways from Mid-Ohio

 

TOP IMAGE: Travis Hinkle/Penske Entertainment