BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Friday, April 28, 2023) – Christian Rasmussen led the opening practice Friday for the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Alabama, turning a lap quicker than the series’ track record at Barber Motorsports Park.
Rasmussen, from Denmark, led with a top lap of 1 minute, 11.4618 seconds in the No. 6 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry. That’s quicker than the track-record lap of 1:11.5149 set by Linus Lundqvist during qualifying in 2021. Track records can only be set in qualifying or a race.
SEE: Practice Results
“Good start to the weekend with P1 in the first practice,” Rasmussen said. “HMD gave me a great car right off the bat, so hopefully we can continue that over the weekend. Qualifying is going to be super important this weekend. It’s going to be all about that one piece, so that’s going to be our main focus so far.”
History verifies Rasmussen’s focus on qualifying at this 17-turn, 2.3-mile road course. In 17 INDY NXT races at Barber, the pole sitter has won 14 times.
Up next for INDYCAR’s development series is a second practice session at 11 a.m. ET Saturday, followed by qualifying at 2:20 p.m. (both live on INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network). The 35-lap race is scheduled for 12:55 p.m. Sunday (live on Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network).
Rasmussen led a sweep by HMD Motorsports of the top four spots in the 45-minute session. Kyffin Simpson was second at 1:11.5705 in the No. 21 HMD Motorsports with CGR car, followed by rookie Nolan Siegel at 1:11.6148 in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports with DCR machine.
Toby Sowery returned to the series for the first time since 2021 by recording the fourth-quickest lap of the session, 1:11.7539 in the No. 14 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car. Sowery, from Great Britain, won a race in 2019 as an INDY NXT rookie with HMD, also earning six additional podium finishes en route to finishing third in the season standings.
Hunter McElrea rounded out the top five at 1:11.7897 in the No. 27 Smart Motors car fielded by Andretti Autosport.
Danial Frost, winner of the season opener in March at St. Petersburg, endured an up-and-down session. He was the early leader, but his No. 68 HMD Motorsports with DCR car stopped in Turn 9. The car continued, but Frost was forced to pull off track with an apparent mechanical problem for the rest of practice. Frost ended up 10th at 1:12.2058.