By Steve Wittich
After a two-month break, the INDY NXT by Firestone field finally got back on track for a Friday afternoon session at Barber Motorsports Park.
It was a perfect sunny spring afternoon in Alabama when the first of two practice sessions got underway at 1:40 pm. The ambient temperature was 73F, and the track temperature was 104F.
Danial Frost, the championship leader after the race in St. Petersburg, Fla.,
was the quickest driver after 15 minutes of practice. The Singaporean driver is the highest-finishing driver returning from last year with a fourth-place finish.
At the halfway point of practice, Frost was still the quickest, with a lap at 82.2058 seconds. The HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing driver was joined by five other veterans – Hunter McElrea (Andretti Autosport), Kyffin Simpson (HMD Motorsports w/Chip Ganassi Racing), Christian Rasmussen (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) and Toby Sowery (HMD Motorsports) – at the top of the timing screens.
With over 20 minutes remaining, Frost’s Dan-Jet sponsored No. 68 slowed and stopped between Turn 9 and 10, bringing out the red flag. However, he was able to get the turbo-charged 2.0L re-fired and drive back to the attention of his crew. They diagnosed an issue with the power distribution unit, changing it out and getting him back on track.
The 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course quickly returned to green conditions, with most of the field returning to work.
Per INDYCAR Radio, Enaam Ahmed, in the Rickshaw Rocket sponsored No. 47, was having gearbox issues, delaying his start to practice.
With ten minutes remaining, new tire runs began with McElrea, a USF Pro 2000 winner at Barber Motorsports Park, jumping to the top of the timing screens.
Lap times began dropping, with veteran Christian Rasmussen going under the INDY NXT by Firestone set by Linus Lundqvist’s track record on his 18th lap.
Late in the session, Frost had another issue, pulling behind the wall in Turn 5, keeping the last minute of the session green.
The 18 drivers completed 385 laps (885.5 miles).
INDY NXT by Firestone practice session results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||BEST LAP||DIFF.||LAPS|
|1||6||Christian Rasmussen||HMD Motorsports||1:11.4618||——||22|
|2||21||Kyffin Simpson||HMD Motorsports||1:11.5705||-0.1087||20|
|3||39||Nolan Siegel||HMD Motorsports||1:11.6148||-0.153||21|
|4||14||Toby Sowery||HMD Motorsports||1:11.7539||-0.2921||22|
|5||27||Hunter McElrea||Andretti Autosport||1:11.7897||-0.3279||27|
|6||29||James Roe||Andretti Autosport||1:12.0678||-0.606||22|
|7||76||Reece Gold||Juncos Hollinger Racing||1:12.1138||-0.652||22|
|8||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||1:12.1173||-0.6555||21|
|9||99||Ernie Francis Jr.||HMD Motorsports||1:12.1281||-0.6663||26|
|10||68||Danial Frost||HMD Motorsports||1:12.2058||-0.744||15|
|11||57||Colin Kaminsky||Abel Motorsports||1:12.2220||-0.7602||27|
|12||3||Josh Green||HMD Motorsports||1:12.2260||-0.7642||22|
|13||26||Louis Foster||Andretti Autosport||1:12.4536||-0.9918||25|
|14||7||Christian Bogle||HMD Motorsports||1:12.5100||-1.0482||22|
|15||98||Jagger Jones||Cape Motorsports||1:12.7275||-1.2657||20|
|16||75||Matteo Nannini||Juncos Hollinger Racing||1:12.7658||-1.304||22|
|17||28||Jamie Chadwick||Andretti Autosport||1:13.3391||-1.8773||20|
|18||47||Enaam Ahmed||Cape Motorsports||1:13.3484||-1.8866||9|