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Lundqvist tops practice at Barber on Indy Lights’ official return

by Craig Woollard

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indy Lights marked its official return at Barber Motorsports Park, and Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports’ Linus Lundqvist was the first driver to set the pace.

The Thursday free practice session was the first Lights session to be run during an IndyCar weekend since the aborted St. Petersburg round more than a year ago when the severity of the global COVID-19 pandemic became apparent.

Drivers headed out onto the track for the 45-minute session early on at Barber and, unlike in Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000, all of the entered cars took to the circuit.

Several drivers from multiple teams took their turn at the top of the timesheets, and Juncos Racing’s Toby Sowery’s 1m13.0816s lap towards the middle of the scheduled running looked to be the time to beat.

Remarkably, the next three cars were only half a tenth behind at this point. HMD’s David Malukas – who topped last year’s sole St. Petersburg practice session – was 0.0132s off the pace, with Formula Regional Americas champion Lundqvist in third. His GRG with HMD team-mate Benjamin Pedersen was 0.0507s off the pace.

Sowery was setting up for a quicker lap when the session was red flagged as Pedersen’s car came to a stop.

When action resumed, Lundqvist edged Sowery to the top of the timesheet, before going several tenths quicker and dipping into the 1m12s with a 1m12.7378s.

Malukas ended the session second ahead of Sowery and Pedersen – the latter being able to return to the track after his stoppage.

Further back, Devlin DeFrancesco was the quickest Andretti Autosport driver in his car co-entered by George Steinbrenner IV, with former FIA Formula 3 driver Alex Peroni putting Carlin in seventh place on his Lights return in a new association with Jay Howard Driver Development.

2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood was eighth, ahead of Andretti team-mate Danial Frost and Juncos’s reigning IP2000 champion Sting Ray Robb.

Free practice results

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Linus Lundqvist GRG w/ HMD 1m12.7378s 21
2 David Malukas HMD Motorsports 1m12.9320s +0.1942s 20
3 Toby Sowery Juncos Racing 1m13.0816s +0.3438s 19
4 Benjamin Pedersen GRG w/ HMD 1m13.1323s +0.3945s 21
5 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1m13.4101s +0.6723s 24
6 Robert Megennis Andretti Autosport 1m13.4387s +0.7009s 22
7 Alex Peroni Carlin w/ JHDD 1m13.4563s +0.7185s 22
8 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport 1m13.4876s +0.7498s 21
9 Danial Frost Andretti Autosport 1m13.5288s +0.7910s 21
10 Sting Ray Robb Juncos Racing 1m13.7008s +0.9630s 16
11 Antonio Serravalle Pserra Racing 1m13.9818s +1.2440s 22
12 Nikita Lastochkin HMD Motorsports 1m14.1899s +1.4521s 21
13 Christian Bogle Carlin w/ JHDD 1m14.4385s +1.7007s 22