Updated: May 3
PORTLAND, Ore. - Despite Matthew Brabham closing the gap in the final laps, Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports driver Benjamin Pedersen dominated by leading every lap from pole position in the 35-lap event to pick up his first career Indy Lights win at Portland International Raceway.
In his two seasons of Indy Lights competition, Pedersen has five second-place finishes. After coming one spot short several times, the 22-year-old finally got to stand on the top step of the podium in Indy Lights as rumors swirl around the paddock about him potentially making the move to the NTT IndyCar Series in 2023.
"Definitely a dream,” Pedersen said. “We were fastest in every session this week. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before, but at a home event where I grew up, in Seattle, only a couple hours from here, a bunch of local support.
"It’s just so awesome. I’ve loved every minute. I’m so relieved, so thankful.”
Championship points leader Linus Lundqvist came to the Pacific Northwest with hopes of wrapping up the Indy Lights title before next weekend’s season-ending doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do that but he still maintains a comfortable points lead, after entering the Grand Prix of Portland with a 109-point advantage.
Lundqvist’s championship rival, Brabham, finished second and picked up six points. Now, Lundqvist leads by 103 points with a pair of races at Laguna Seca left in the 2022 season after scoring a third-place result at Portland.
"It’s all right,” Lundqvist said. “You always want a little more, you want to win every race if you can, but we just didn’t really have the pace this weekend. Benjamin (Pedersen) has been on it since session one. Congratulations to him. It’s always a good feeling to get that first win under your belt.
“But from our side, it was all right. Happy to get away with a podium. We’ll take the points. Obviously, it would have been nice to finish ahead of Brabham and be finished with it, but we’ll see. We still have a good gap, and we’re going to Laguna with some good energy.”
There was a caution due to contact between Christian Rasmussen and Danial Frost on Lap 6. Neither driver wanted to give an inch in Turn 11, which resulted in Frost’s No. 68 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing Dallara having a big off deep into the tire barriers.
Thankfully, the AMR Safety Team arrived at the scene and helped Frost get out of the car.
Surprisingly, the Indy Lights field made it through treacherous Turn 1 without an incident. But Turn 7 proved to be the trouble spot on Lap 1. Making his Indy Lights debut, Flinn Lazier locked up the brakes and hit Christian Bogle to bring out the first full-course caution.
The son of 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion, Buddy Lazier, saw his first Indy Lights start end abruptly without completing a single lap. Luckily, the 23-year-old American will be back behind the wheel of the No. 15 Abel Motorsports Dallara in next weekend’s doubleheader at Laguna Seca, so there’s still an opportunity for him to get laps in the Indy Lights car.
Indy Lights Grand Prix of Portland Results
(24) Benjamin Pedersen, 35 Laps, Running
(83) Matthew Brabham, -0.9651, Running
(26) Linus Lundqvist, -6.4087, Running
(51) Jacob Abel (R), -11.0037, Running
(27) Hunter McElrea (R), -11.3346, Running
(2) Sting Ray Robb, -17.3661, Running
(28) Christian Rasmussen (R), -19.4541, Running
(99) Ernie Francis Jr. (R), -21.1388, Running
(21) Kyffin Simpson (R), -21.6544, Running
(68) Danial Frost, 30 Laps Down, Contact
(7) Christian Bogle, 34 Laps Down, Contact
(15) Flinn Lazier (R), 35 Laps Down, Contact