By Steve Wittich
The call to fire the 18 turbo-charged 2.0L Advanced Engine Research (AER) engines came at 11:56 am. The all-HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing front row of Rasmussen and Siegel led the nine rows of two to the green flag after a pair of pace laps.
Further back in the field,
The first 15 cars made it through the first corner cleanly, but at the back of the field, Christian Bogle went wide at the exit of Turn 1, coming back on track, squeezing the No. 28 of Jamie Chadwick and No. 99 Ernie Francis, Jr., who made contact. The DHL-sponsored car of the three-time W-Series champion suffered suspension damage, being forced to pit road for repairs to the right front. The Andretti Autosport made repairs, and she returned to the track three laps down.
Race control reviewed the incident, and they determined that no action was necessary.
Closer to the front of the field
After the first of 35 laps, the running order was: Rasmussen, Siegel, Foster, McElrea, Simpson, Sowery, Frost, Green, Roe, Gold, Ahmed, Nannini, Abel, Jones, Bogle, Kaminsky, Francis, Jr. and Chadwick.
On the second lap, Simpson got a good run down to Turn 5, making a late move to the inside of McElrea, locking up the brakes and making right front to left rear contact at the apex of the corner. Both drivers sustained contact and were forced to pit road.
Race control determined that Simpson and the No. 21 were given incident responsibility, with the penalty pending.
After five laps of action, Rasmussen’s lead over his teammate Siegel was 2.5 seconds, with Foster and Sowery within a second.
On Lap 6, Sowery had a moment in the final few corners, dropping positions to Frost and Green and dropping to sixth. However, it didn’t damage the No. 14, with Sowery setting the fastest lap of the race (to that point) two laps later.
On Lap 14, the yellow flag came out for an incident between Nannini and Abel, who were running 10th and 11th. The No. 75 and No. 51 were side-by-side through Turn 15, 16 & 17 before making contact at the final corner’s exit and hitting the barriers on the driver’s right.
Race control quickly announced that the incident was under review. They determined that no action would be necessary.
When interviewed by the Peacock broadcast, Abel said that he and Nannini disagreed with what transpired.
At the same time, Gold in the second Juncos Hollinger Racing car was on pit road with an issue with the power plant.
The running order under yellow as the field went under the crossed flags to signify the halfway point of the races was Rasmussen, Siegel, Foster, Frost, Green, Sowery, Roe, Ahmed, Jones, Kaminsky, Francis, Jr., Bogle, Chadwick, McElrea, Gold, Simpson, Nannini (out), and Abel (out).
The restart came to start Lap 19. Rasmussen and Siegel got a good jump up front, but behind them, Frost got a good jump, passing Foster in Turn 5. The reigning USF Pro 2000 champion didn’t give up, forcing the St. Pete winner into a mistake, going off track in Turn 8. That allowed Sowery, Green and Roe to get around the No. 68 over the next lap.
With 20 laps remaining, race control showed the black flag to the No. 21 after he failed to serve the penalty. A lap later, they stopped timing the car, and eventually, INDYCAR disqualified Simpson for failure to follow directions.
He told Georgia Hennebury on the Peacock broadcast that he had lost communication with the pit stand.
On Lap 21, Roe was penalized for blocking Frost in Turn 8 and had to give up a position.
With ten laps remaining, Rasmussen had a comfortable 3.2-second lead over Siegel, who was facing pressure from Foster.
On Lap 26, Foster was pressuring Siegel on the run to Turn 8 when he got loose on corner entry, bounded over the curbs, through the gravel and into the ARMCO on the outside of Turn 9. He told the team over the radio that he thought he had a stuck throttle.
Under caution, the running order of the cars still on track was Rasmussen, Siegel, Sowery, Green, Frost, Roe, Ahmed, Jones, Kaminsky, Bogle, Francis, Chadwick and McElrea.
On Lap 30, the red flag was shown from the starter stand when the tow truck with Foster’s No. 26 on the hook was stuck in the mud created by the two inches of rain in Leeds, Ala. The tow truck required a tow truck, and it was eventually cleaned up after an 11-minute red flag.
The No. 98 of Jones, who was in eighth, did not fire. The rest of the field went around him, and he couldn’t get back on the track,
The green flag came out with four laps remaining. The first three drivers got cleanly through the first lap, but behind them, Frost looked to the inside of Green in Turn 5, but the No. 3 held back his teammate. Behind that, Ahmed got by Roe for sixth.
Rasmussen’s lead after one lap was a full second, with Sowery pressuring Siegel.
On the final lap, HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing drivers were fighting for the spots in the top five when Frost made a crazy move in Turn 12, bounding over the curbs and taking out his teammate Green, moving Ahmed to fourth and Roe to fifth.
INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Alabama unofficial results
|1||6||Christian Rasmussen||HMD Motorsports||35 LAPS|
|2||39||Nolan Siegel||HMD Motorsports||-1.9983|
|3||14||Toby Sowery||HMD Motorsports||-2.4034|
|4||47||Enaam Ahmed||Cape Motorsports||-7.2734|
|5||29||James Roe, Jr.||Andretti Autosport||-8.1976|
|6||57||Colin Kaminsky||Abel Motorsports||-9.2278|
|7||7||Christian Bogle||HMD Motorsports||-9.6447|
|8||99||Ernie Francis Jr.||HMD Motorsports||-10.1627|
|9||68||Danial Frost||HMD Motorsports||-13.2945|
|10||3||Josh Green||HMD Motorsports||-40.9199|
|11||28||Jamie Chadwick||Andretti Autosport||-3 LAPS|
|12||98||Jagger Jones||Cape Motorsports||-5 LAPS|
|13||27||Hunter McElrea||Andretti Autosport||-5 LAPS|
|14||26||Louis Foster||Andretti Autosport||-10 LAPS|
|15||75||Matteo Nannini||Juncos Hollinger Racing||-22 LAPS|
|16||51||Jacob Abel||Abel Motorsports||-22 LAPS|
|17||76||Reece Gold||Juncos Hollinger Racing||-22 LAPS|
|18||21||Kyffin Simpson||HMD Motorsports||DSQ|