Christian Lundgaard will get to shave his mustache after winning Sunday’s (July 16) Honda Indy Toronto. The win is both the first of Lundgaard’s NTT IndyCar Series career and the first of the 2023 season for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Lundgaard started the race on the faster, though less durable, guayule alternate tires and used the pace advantage to speed away to a strong lead early in the race. Second-place starter Scott McLaughlin opted to start the race on the reliable and long-lasting Firestone primary tires, but the Kiwi was unable to jump to the lead with his conservative tire strategy and Lundgaard comfortably jumped his way back to the lead through tire strategy as the race unfolded.
“I’m pretty drained of energy right now,” Lundgaard told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee after the race.
“The Hy-Vee Vivid car has just been fast all weekend – and I said it before the race, we had a car that was fast enough to win – and we pulled it off and I think we did it by 10 seconds. This team, they do deserve this because if we look at where we were earlier this season, and even last year at this point, and we were nowhere near this! I’m just extremely happy for everybody right now.”
Though McLaughlin and his Thirsty Threes team weren’t hurting for speed at any point all day, Lundgaard and RLL shut down any hope for Team Penske on lap 49 when the No. 45 car pitted under yellow for fresh primary tires while McLaughlin stayed out on a set of used alternates. The last obstacle for the Dane in his run to the flag was getting by the ailing car of Alex Palou on lap 62 before waltzing away to a winning margin of 11.7893 seconds.
Championship leader Palou nursed a damaged front wing home for a second place finish to extend his already-massive points lead despite having the worst qualifying result of his 2023 campaign during qualifying on Saturday.
Colton Herta completed the podium behind Palou while Herta’s challenger for third place, Will Power, had to pit from fourth place at the end of the penultimate lap when his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet ran out of fuel.
Eight drivers failed to finish the caution-filled race.
The race went incident free until the first corner of the first lap, where a seven-car pileup eliminated Jack Harvey, Tom Blomqvist, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Benjamin Pedersen. Escaping the melee with minimal damage were Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi and Santino Ferrucci.
Romain Grosjean made hard contact with the turn-10 wall on lap 41, totaling his No. 28 DHL Honda and earning a 22nd-place result.
Helio Castroneves brought out the next caution as the field came around to restart the race on lap 45. The four-time Indy 500 champion was rear-ended by Kyle Kirkwood as the field bunched up and spun around near the apex of turn 2. Kirkwood was later given a penalty for avoidable contact in response to the incident.
Next up on the schedule for the IndyCar series is the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend at Iowa Speedway. The weekend will feature the only doubleheader of the year for the IndyCar paddock, with the first of two races running at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 22 with coverage on NBC.
About the author
Alex is the IndyCar Editor at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also Co-founded The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region, in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.
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