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Christian Lundgaard takes RLL back to victory lane for first IndyCar victory in Toronto

The 21-year-old driver took Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto from pole position and cruised in the final stint to take the checkered flag first at Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto, Ontario. Christian Lundgaard’s first NTT IndyCar Series victory came 11-seconds over the next competitor after a heavy-attrition and fuel-saving finish.

Christian Lundgaard speeds down a straight on Sunday at the Honda Indy TO in his Vivid/Gatorade/HyVee Honda for RLL. (Picture Credit: Joe Skibinski / INDYCAR)

Lundgaard led 54 of the 85 laps today around the 1.786-mile concourse that makes up the Toronto Grand Prix, scoring Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s first victory since the 2020 Indianapolis 500. Lundgaard’s maiden win in his 28th career IndyCar start is his 13th performance inside the top-10 finishing positions and his third top-five run this season. The No. 45 Vivid RX and HyVee Honda moves from tenth to seventh in the championship hunt as a result, as well.

A former Alpine Development driver, the second-year IndyCar racer at RLL determined before the season he’d be a threat weekly in the series. So much so, the Danish driver committed to not shaving during the campaign until picking up his first race win.

Lundgaard shaves his facial hair off in victory lane post-race. (Picture: Travis Hinkle / INDYCAR Media, IMS & Penske Entertainment)

Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Lundgaard’s No. 45 entry, won the first IndyCar Toronto Grand Prix on July 20, 1986.

Today’s result is the first race win for RLL Racing in the Honda Indy Toronto, snapping a five race streak of Chip Ganassi Racing or Team Penske taking the top step on the podium.

Championship leader Alex Palou entered the weekend off three consecutive victories, racing at a circuit he had one prior start at. The No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing team once again had one of the fastest cars on-track this weekend, but through changing conditions during Saturday’s qualifications, Palou gridded Sunday’s Grand Prix in the 15th-position.

Palou’s day got more complicated after contact from a spinning Helio Castroneves on a lap 45 restart. The incident began with Kyle Kirkwood nudging into the rear of his fellow AutoNation competitor of Castroneves, spinning the pink No. 06 around the track’s final turn, forcing Palou to make slight contact with the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and the concrete barrier on the right side. The Journie No. 10 team left Palou on-track during the next full course caution, and the front wing assembly for the Spanish four-time race winner this season began falling off the car. Miraculously, the resistant assembly stayed put and Palou wheeled the Dallara to a second-place result regardless.

Alex Palou now boasts a 117-point championship lead entering next weekend’s HyVee Doubleheader at Iowa Speedway, up 7 markers. (Picture Credit: Travis Hinkle / IndyCar)

Colton Herta coasted to his first podium result in the 2023 season, however, his day was anything but slow. Another driver caught out from the qualifying chaos, Herta’s best result of the season came after fighting from a 14th starting position and crossing the finish line while sputtering out of fuel. The Gainbridge No. 26 Honda from Andretti Autosport was one of the paciest cars all weekend prior to the mixed-condition qualifying session.

Scott Dixon was just shy of scoring yet another podium result in Ontario, Canada, finishing right behind the slowed car of Herta at the drop of the checkered flag. The four-time Honda Indy Toronto victor fought through traffic in the closing 25 laps after going on alternate pit strategy with Scott McLaughlin in the second-half, putting those two in the lead for a brief period before cycling to the rear of the field for pit service laps after a restart. McLaughlin only raced his way to sixth.

An aide for the New Zealanders gaining ground in the waning laps were cars out of fuel early. Will Power and Marcus Ericsson were both forced to forfeit top-five runs with just over a lap remaining due to bad reads from the timing stand on the Shell Renewable fuel consumption during the final stint. Ericsson managed an 11th-place result while Power is scored 14th.

With 16 laps remaining, the rough season for David Malukas continued North of the border for the Chicago native after contact with the outside concrete barrier exiting turn one before the toe link snapped on the Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Honda entering the pit lane. Despite a hopeful result two weeks ago in Mid-Ohio, the No. 18 finished in 20th at Toronto.

Romain Grosjean caught the wall on lap 41 after reporting his steering wheel was ripped from his hands. The driver of Andretti Autosport’s No. 28 DHL Honda has now finished six consecutive races outside of the top-10 and recorded five failures to finish in the ten races thus far this season. His teammate in Devlin DeFrancesco also did not finish on Sunday after a mechanical failure on the Steinbrenner Racing co-entry.

A huge pile-up blocked turn one on the opening lap for the last ten cars in Sunday’s race, eliminating four cars from contention immediately. Jack Harvey ran wide through the first turn in a three-wide situation with Ryan Hunter-Reay and debut driver Tom Blomqvist on his left-hand side. As a result, the three cars collided together and triggered a pileup with Alexander Rossi and Graham Rahal also being involved. The three aforementioned drivers were out of the race after the first turn along with Benjamin Pedersen, who also got collected, while Rahal and Rossi continued.

Rahal managed to overcome the slight damage to score a top-10 result, while Rossi was trapped a lap down for the majority of the 151-mile race.

Unofficial Results // 2023 Honda Indy Toronto

1 – (45) Christian Lundgaard / 1st Career IndyCar Victory
2 – (10) Alex Palou / 21st Career IndyCar Podium
3 – (26) Colton Herta / 12th Career IndyCar Podium
4 – (9) Scott Dixon
5 – (2) Josef Newgarden
6 – (3) Scott McLaughlin
7 – (11) Marcus Armstrong [R]
8 – (5) Pato O’Ward
9 – (15) Graham Rahal
10 – (6) Felix Rosenqvist
11 – (8) Marcus Ericsson
12 – (78) Agustin Canapino [R]
13 – (21) Rinus VeeKay
14 – (12) Will Power
15 – (27) Kyle Kirkwood
16 – (7) Alexander Rossi / 84 Laps
17 – (14) Santino Ferrucci / 82 Laps
18 – (77) Callum Ilott / 81 Laps
19 – (51) Sting Ray Robb [R] / 81 Laps
20 – (18) David Malukas / 69 Laps
21 – (06) Helio Castroneves / 45 Laps
22 – (28) Romain Grosjean / 41 Laps
23 – (29) Devlin DeFrancesco / 10 Laps
24 – (30) Jack Harvey / 0 Laps
25 – (60) Tom Blomqvist [R] / 0 Laps
26 – (20) Ryan Hunter-Reay / 0 Laps
27 – (55) Benjamin Pedersen [R] / 0 Laps

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