By Steve Wittich
Rough INDY NXT by Firestone race notes – these will be updated with quotes and more later.
The call to fire the 19 turbo-charged 2.0-liter AER-prepared power plants to start the rebranded INDY NXT by Firestone came at 9:55 am.
After two laps behind the pace car to warm up their Firestone slicks, the front row of Foster and Abel brought the largest INDY NXT by Firestone season-opening field since 2009 to the green flag on the front straight.
On the run down to Turn 4, former Juncos Hollinger Racing USF Pro 2000 teammates disagreed racing space, with Gold moving over on Ahmed, damaging the side of the Pakistani driver’s No. 47. The damage was too much to continue. Ahmed was not happy with his former teammate, calling him a “f*cking idiot,” and saying “I think he is just a sore loser that didn’t want me to go past him.”
That ended the race for Ahmed and brought out the yellow flag.
The running order under yellow was Foster, Rasmussen, Abel, Simpson, Lindh, Siegel, Frost, Nannini, Green, Jones, Kaminsky, McElrea, Francis, Jr., Pierson, Chadwick, Roe, Bogle, Gold and Ahmed.
The restart came to start Lap 3, with Foster getting to Turn 1 first. Behind the pole sitter, Rasmussen and Abel went side-by-side with the No. 6 HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing keeping the position.
On the run down to Turn 4, Kaminsky and Jones had side-to-side contact in the Turn 4 braking zone, with the third-generation race and his No. 98 nosing into the tire barrier. Behind them, Chadwick was on the outside of another driver and had nowhere to go, running into Jones.
Under yellow, the top ten was Foster, Rasmussen, Abel, Simpson, Siegel, Forst, Green, Lindh, Kaminsky and McElrea.
On the Lap 7 restart, leader Foster and Rassmussen went side-by-side into Turn 1, with both getting too deep and going wide. That opened the door for Abel, who dove to the inside to take the lead from third.
Further back on the restart, Nannini and Francis, Jr., had an incident on the front straight with the driver of the No. 75 being penalized one position for blocking.
Abel’s gap up front over Foster after ten laps was 2.8 seconds, with Foster 1.3 seconds ahead of Rasmussen. Siegel was fourth, with Frost, Green, Simpson, Lindh, Kaminsky and McElrea within three seconds of the No. 39.
The drivers settled in over the next ten laps, with Abel’s lead remaining stable between 1.5 and two seconds. Behind them, the only driver to make a move was McElera, who got around Kaminsky for ninth. Siegel was still holding up the field, with six drivers within four seconds of him.
On Lap 22, Abel, Foster and ten other drivers
At the halfway point of the race, Abel’s lead over Foster was 0.7 seconds, with Rasmussen, Siegel, Frost, Green, Simpson, Lindh, McElrea and Kaminsky rounding out the top 10.
On Lap 23, the Topcon sponsored No. 29 of James Roe, Jr. was running slow, complaining that he lost power.
On the next lap, Simpson, Lindh and McElrea were battling for 7th, with Lindh getting the spot in Turn 1.
Experienced engineers Kent Boyer and Mark Weida gave Abel an excellent long-run car, with the Butler University student turning his quickest lap of the race on Lap 26.
The race’s second yellow flag came when Pierson missed Turn 10, nosing into the tire barriers. That erased Abel’s 1.2-second lead over Foster, Rasmussen, Siegel, Frost, Green, Lindh, McElrea, Simpson and Kaminsky in the top ten.
The restart came at the start of Lap 32, with Foster looking to the outside of the leader but going wide and losing spots to Rasmussen and Siegel. Foster got in the marbles in Turn 3, with the rear end stepping out and tagging the wall at the exit of the quick corner.
The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team got things cleaned up quickly, and the race restarted to begin Lap 35.
Rasmussen got a great restart, trying the outside of Abel in Turn 1, with the No. 51 pushing wide and giving Siegel and Frost to pull the same move that he did to get the lead.
The running order under yellow on Lap 35 was Siegel, Frost, Abel, Rasmussen, Lindh, Francis, Jr., McElrea, Bogle, Kaminsky, Gold, Green, Simpson, Nannini, Chadwick, Nannini, Foster, Pierson, Roe, Jones and Ahmed.
That changed when Lindh, who was running fourth, was penalized for blocking Green and had to go to the back of the pack, which was 12th.
While running under yellow, INDYCAR announced it would become a timed race with six minutes remaining.
The green flag came out with two minutes remaining. Unfortunately, like the previous restarts, the leader – Seigel in the No. 39 – went too deep into Turn 1, allowing Frost to get by him.
Once again, it was Turn 4 that caused problems, with Kaminsky, Bogle and Chadwick having issues. However, all three drivers continued, and the track remained green, allowing the fight to the finish to keep going.
Unofficial INDY NXT by Firestone race results.
|1||68||Danial Frost||HMD Motorsports||40 LAPS|
|2||39||Nolan Siegel||HMD Motorsports||-1.8038|
|3||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||-1.9782|
|4||6||Christian Rasmussen||HMD Motorsports||-2.2621|
|5||27||Hunter McElrea||Andretti Autosport||-2.7494|
|6||99||Ernie Francis Jr.||HMD Motorsports||-4.3832|
|7||3||Josh Green||HMD Motorsports||-4.79|
|8||76||Reece Gold||Juncos Hollinger Racing||-7.239|
|9||10||Rasmus Lindh||HMD Motorsports||-8.2011|
|10||21||Kyffin Simpson||HMD Motorsports||-9.1595|
|11||57||Colin Kaminsky||Abel Motorsports||-16.694|
|12||7||Christian Bogle||HMD Motorsports||– 1 LAPS|
|13||28||Jamie Chadwick||Andretti Autosport||– 1 LAPS|
|14||26||Louis Foster||Andretti Autosport||– 2 LAPS|
|15||75||Matteo Nannini||Juncos Hollinger Racing||– 6 LAPS|
|16||14||Josh Pierson||HMD Motorsports||-14 LAPS|
|17||29||James Roe||Andretti Autosport||-17 LAPS|
|18||98||Jagger Jones||Cape Motorsports||-37 LAPS|
|19||47||Enaam Ahmed||Cape Motorsports||-40 LAPS|