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Indy Nxt champion Linus Lundqvist to make IndyCar debut in Nashville

by Ida Wood

Photo: James Black

Reigning Indy Nxt champion Linus Lundqvist will make his IndyCar debut in this week’s Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville.

It is unusual for an Indy Nxt champion to wait this late into the year before appearing on the IndyCar grid, as for a long time the series had a prize money system that guaranteed the champion at least three starts including the Indianapolis 500.

But last year IndyCar’s owner Penske Entertainment took over Indy Nxt, and drastically reduced the size of the prize pot for the champion. Lundqvist could not make the step up with the money he had, and this year has made two test outings as well as spending a weekend in Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia to stay race sharp.

The 24-year-old Swede will make his IndyCar debut with Meyer Shank Racing, taking over the car of Simon Pagenaud who has not been medically cleared to return to the cockpit following a crash at Mid-Ohio at the start of this month.

“This is a moment I’ve been dreaming of literally since the start of my career,” said Lundqvist. “I could not be more excited about the prospect of finally making my IndyCar debut; I am extremely grateful to MSR for this opportunity.

“This will be an incredible experience but also the toughest challenge of my life. Sitting on the sidelines all year, it would be a massive task to join any championship toward the end of the season – let alone the IndyCar series on the streets of Nashville.

“There’s been very little time to prepare, but I feel like the sheer excitement of this moment will make up for some of that.”

Lundqvist will be team-mate to Helio Castroneves, who has 25 IndyCar wins to his name and is currently 20th in the standings. “Of course working alongside Helio – one of the true legends of this sport – will also be a huge asset.”