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Rookies Lundgaard, Malukas steal show at Nashville Practice

Rookies Lundgaard, Malukas steal show at Nashville Practice

Experience? Who needs experience?

Two rookies with no previous laps on the streets of Nashville landed in the top three in opening practice for Friday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, with Christian Lundgaard leading the first timers and the session overall with a best lap of 1 minute, 15, 9659 seconds in the No. 30 Shield Cleansers Honda.

It was the first time Danish driver Lundgaard led a session in his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career and the first time he topped the time charts for a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver since Graham Rahal led the morning warm-up for this race last August .

TO SEE: Practice Results

Lundgaard, 21, scored his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES podium finish of his career by finishing second in the Gallagher Grand Prix last Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway racetrack. He also finished eighth – then a season best – at the most recent street course race of the season, the Honda Indy Toronto on July 17.

“I’m super happy to be here now,” Lundgaard said. “We were there last weekend. To start this weekend here is great, of course, but we have qualifying and the race ahead of us. We have to be as efficient as the last few races, make sure everything is right, just run the package now that we know we have the package.

“Toronto was a good weekend. We came here with a similar car. It works, so I’m super hyped to see if we can continue down this road.”

Veteran Felix Rosenqvist continued his blistering summer by finishing second at 1:16.2050 in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Rookie David Malukas finished third at 1:16.2366 in the No. 18 HMD Honda on the 11-turn, 2.1-mile temporary road course that includes two trips across the Cumberland River per lap via the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge. Malukas follows Lundgaard by 27 points in a compelling race for the Rookie of the Year series.

“All the changes we made went in the right direction, especially when we put the alternative tires on it,” said Malukas. “It went very smoothly in the end.”

All 26 cars in the field this weekend will be using Firestone’s new alternative tire with new, durable natural rubber in the sidewalls, derived from guayule (why-yoo-lee), a drought-resistant shrub native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico . The top 16 times in the 75 minute session were spun on the guayule tape.

Scott McLaughlin was fourth overall with 1:16.5755 in the #3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet. His teammate and two-time series champion Josef Newgarden, a native of Nashville, rounded out the top five with 1:16.6957 in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet.

Series leader Will Power was seventh with 1:16.8330 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

The Saturday action kicks off at 12:15 PM ET with a 45-minute practice session, followed by the NTT P1 Award qualifier at 4:30 PM. Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network will broadcast both sessions live.

Live coverage of the 80-lap race begins Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

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