Hy-Vee has become one of, if not the best new sponsor to come to IndyCar in the 21st century. The midwestern grocery store chain has jumped all the way in with its IndyCar promotion centered around the double header weekend at the Iowa Speedway. With major concerts at the racetrack and massive displays throughout it’s stores and marketing plans, Hy-Vee went all in with driver Jack Harvey and the #45 Honda for Rahal Letterman-Lanigan Racing in 2022. Heading into the 2022 season, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced a third car to the stable, adding rookie driver Christian Lundgaard to pair with newcomer Jack Harvey and Graham Rahal as two time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato left the team. Lundgaard would be the third car despite being in the cockpit of the familiar #30, while Harvey would pilot the teams “second” car in the #45.
The expectations for 2022 were pretty high. Lundgaard had an impressive first show in an IndyCar at the second road course race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the summer of 2021. Lundgaard qualified 4th and led 2 laps en route to scoring a Top 12 in his very first IndyCar start. Harvey entered 2022 with optimism, joining the RLL stable after several races with Meyer-Shank Racing. In IndyCar, it usually takes time to gel with a team and show consistent results. Harvey was plagued by bad luck early in the season. During practice at Texas, Harvey crashed off of turn 2 and was not cleared to drive in the race. Santino Ferrucci filled in, driving the #45 Honda to Top 10 finish. Harvey would produce just one top 10 finish during the 2022 season and have a best qualifying effort of 6th at Iowa.
Meanwhile, Lundgaard led the rookie championship for most of the 2022 season, scoring the honor with 7 Top 10 finishes on the season and scored the team's only podium at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's second road course race. Lundgaard made major progress all season and could be a threat to win races on every road and street course in 2023.
With the amount of money Hy-Vee is pouring into the sport as well as the team at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, you want to give them results and you don’t have a lot of time to do it before that sponsor could go away or hop to another team that is winning races. This allows Harvey to hop into a car that ran up front on numerous occasions in 2022 while you hope to avoid a sophomore slump for Lundgaard now moving to the Hy-Vee sponsored entry.
Hy-Vee has reinvested in IndyCar and its double-header weekend at Iowa Speedway. They announced a few weeks back a massive concert lineup for the second straight season. They also have brought numerous household names with them to IndyCar such as Mountain Dew, DoorDash, Google and Cheetos. That branding goes a long way to growing the sport inside of their stores.
The team is more than capable of results on a consistent basis and adding two new drivers, a third team and new crew is hard to translate into results right off the bat, especially when replacing a driver that won the team its second Indy 500. In my conversations with both Graham Rahal and Christian Lundgaard over the last few months, there is nothing but confidence in their abilities to drive and the team to deliver cars capable of competing for wins. Jack Harvey in 2022 was honestly a big mystery for me. I had high expectations especially at places like the IMS road course and Portland Raceway where Harvey has shown pace and results.
My expectations for Lundgaards second season in IndyCar are through the roof. I believe he has the ability to win on road and street courses and finish top 10 in the points if he can close the gap on ovals. Graham Rahal needs to make the jump from a consistent Top 10 finisher to a consistent Top 5 finisher and podium contender while Harvey hops in a car that had a podium finish last year at his best track statistically.
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