What happened to Indy NXT champions? Linus Lundqvist

Linus Lundqvist at Texas Motor Speedway in 2023. (Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)

Indy NXT has a decorated history. The series, formerly known as Indy Light, started in 1986 and through various evolutions has become the primary feeder series for IndyCar. In total, 36 champions have been crowned so far. Some champions went on to become legends of the sport, others went into other disciplines, and some faded into obscurity.

What happened to all of the Indy NXT champions? In this first edition, we take a look at Linus Lundqvist.

Let’s start with the most recent Indy Lights Champion and the last before the Indy NXT rebrand. Linus Lundqvist was born in Sweden in 1999. Before coming to the US, Lundqvist started his career karting in Europe. He got his big single-seater break in 2016 when he won the Formula STCC Nordic championship in dominant fashion, winning 10 out of the 14 races. In the 14-race season, Lundqvist only missed the podium one time.

After winning his maiden junior series championship, the Swede moved to the British Formula 4 championship. While Lundqvist didn’t make a run for the championship, he did win 5 races. That was enough to impress and move up to British Formula 3 the following year. A year in which he would rack up 7 victories, 13 podiums in total, en route to winning the BRDC Formula 3 championship. Despite this impressive resume, chances were limited in the European motorsport ladder, and the Swede moved to the IndyCar ladder in 2020.

Racing in the States

In his first season stateside, Lundqvist dominated Formula Regional Americas. The then 20-year-old won 15(!!) out of the 17 races, beating David Malukas to the championship by 118 points. Promotion to Indy Lights followed, where he finished 3rd in his rookies season, behind champion Kyle Kirkwood and second place Malukas. The following year, Lundqvist beat Sting Ray Robb and Matthew Brabham to the Indy Lights Championship in a convincing fashion.

The Swedish driver won 4 out of the 6 races to start the season. Outside of winning the most races in the 2022 season, Lundqvist exhibited great consistency. He didn’t have a single DNF, and his worst finishing position was a 6th place at Laguna Seca. Unfortunately for the 24-year-old, his championship didn’t result in a full-time IndyCar seat in 2023.

Penske Entertainment failed Lundqvist

Lundqvist got the short end of the stick through no fault of his own. Penske Entertainment took control of Indy Lights, and the scholarship budget for winning the Indy Lights championship went from $1.2 million to $500k, severely hurting the chances of the Swede getting a full-time IndyCar ride. It’s an absolute shame how a driver who won so many championships in dominating fashion and did everything you could ask from a junior series driver is on the sidelines. Especially when some of the drivers he beat in those championships did get the call up to IndyCar.

Lundqvist tested for Andretti’s Formula E team in the Berlin Rookie test on April 24th. This doesn’t mean a full-time IndyCar season, but it’s something at least. There are several unconfirmed rumors going around the IndyCar paddock about Lundqvist’s future.  Hopefully, he will get a chance, based on his junior series record. It would be a massive shame if Linus Lundqvist doesn’t get a full-time drive next year.

 

Featured Image Credit: Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

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