By Patrick Stephan
Pre Race notes from INDYCAR PR:
NDY NXT BY FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX SPECIFICS:
•The race is 35 laps/85.37 miles on the 2.439-mile road course. There is a 55-minute time limit for today’s race.
•The race will start the second time by the start-finish line. Pole sitter Matteo Naninni will grid drivers’ right.
•The start will be double-file and restarts will be single-file. The race leader will accelerate for single-file restarts after exiting Turn 13 near pit-in.
•Lapped cars will be moved to the back of the field for restarts in the final 15 minutes of the timed race. (edited)
Matteo Nannini brings the field to the green under brightly overcast skies (if that’s a thing). Hunter McElrea who comes in 7th in the points is alongside.
The first start is waved off, though the lap counts and the clock has started in case we need to go to a timed race instead of the 35 scheduled laps. They were very slow off the final corner.
Let’s try this again….nope…now too fast and all strung out.
Third attempt at a start is much better as the field stays formed up
Nannini is able to keep the lead after the field got 4 wide entering Turn 1. Louis Foster is up to second as McElrea drops to third and then 4th when we complete the first lap. Point leader Christian Rasmussen went from 6th to 3rd on the first lap.
Passing continues in the back as Reece Gold passes Nolan Siegel – but then loses that spot the next time around.
Lap 5 – Naninni leads Foster by 1.4 seconds followed by Rasmussen, Simpson, McElrea, Josh Green, James Roe, Rasmus Lindh, Jacob Abel, and Enaam Ahmed.
Lap 6 and Kyffin Simpson makes a strong move around the outside of Rasmussen at Turn 7. Simpson got the spot for good at Turn 8 where he now had inside position. That puts Simpson in to 3rd.
Naninni, a native of Faenza, Italy comes in to this event after finishing 15th at both St. Pete and Barber – out with contact in both. Now on Lap 9, he leads Foster by 1.5 seconds.
McElrea is pressuring Rasmussen for 4th on lap 11, but doesn’t make the move work in Turn 1 as Rasmussen kept the inside line.
The field has settled in for now with Naninni’s lead at 1.2 over Foster. Simpson is 3.6 further back and Rasmussen 3 more in arrears. McElrea continues to pressure Rasmussen for that 4th spot.
Foster is slowly getting closer to Naninni, about a tenth a lap, with the lead down to 1.08 on Lap 15 with 20 to go. Watching the cars through Turn 4, it looks like Foster’s car is a bit more stable. Next time around though, both seem pretty stuck though Foster hustles the chicane a little more and on Lap 16 he’s cut the lead to 0.8819.
Lap 17 – McElrea tries to pass Rasmussen on the outside of Turn 1. They go side by side through Turn 2, but Rasmussen prevails for now and retains the spot That action has allowed the white with pink accented car of Green to close in and he’s about 0.6 off McElrea for 5th.
Foster’s march forward has stalled for now at 0.9 on lap 19. Lap 20 the lead grows to 1.26 but Don Lambert (Foster’s team manager at Andretti Autosport) tells Georgia Henneberry on NBC Sports that they are comfortably taking care of their tires right now and Foster hasn’t used any push to pass yet.
Lap 22 comes around and Nannini has grown his lead to 1.59 seconds, and then it drops to 1.41 for Lap 23 of the 35.
Lap 24 Jamie Chadwick passes Josh Pierson at Turn 1 by getting inside and muscling him almost to the grass on the exit. We can see some a row of marble’s built up on the outside of Pierson’s right rear tire. He had started 7th and is down to 17th now.
Lap 25 (10 to go) – the lead is down to 0.56 as Naninni lightly smokes the rear tires and goes a little wide at the exit of Turn 1.
Lap 26, Foster is 5 car lengths back coming in to the front straightaway, but Naninni is clean through Turn 1 and Foster doesn’t try a move (wasn’t close enough).
This time on the front straight Foster is closer but not yet enough to pop out and make a move.
Lap 28 lead is 0.78 for Naninni as Foster just can’t get quite close enough yet. Simpson, Rasmussen, McElrea, Green, Roe, Lindh, Abel, and Ahmed still round out the Top 10.
The yellow and black car of Reece Gold slows for a bit. Looking at the video he’s got something fluttering off the left front of his wing…looks like tape or carbon cover and tape. Whatever it is, it got stuck under the tire at Turn 7 and the tire locks as he slides wide. That lets Jamie Chadwick get the spot a couple turns later.
Lap 30 and McElrea inside of Rasmussen at Turn 12, and then they go side by side through 13 and 14 as they enter the front straightaway. Side by side again through Turn 1, and Rasmussen finally had to give up the 4th spot at the exit of Turn 2.
Foster looks to the outside of Naninni on Lap 33 at Turn 7 but can’t get alongside. Naninni keeps the lead and Foster trails him all the way around again to Turn 1 but is 2 car lengths back there.
Naninni is reported to be out of Push to Pass as they run the 2nd to last lap. Taking the white flag, Foster has 5 seconds of Push to Pass, but he can again only close to a couple car lengths. They stay nose to tail through 6 and down to 7. Foster is just feet away at Turn 8, but Naninni gets off the corner cleanly. Turn 12..nope, not close enough.
Matteo Naninni comes off Turn 14 and weaves to the inside pit wall as his Juncos Hollinger crew run are jumping all over pit lane to congratulate their driver as he takes the checkered flag 0.3909 seconds ahead of Louis Foster. Joining them on the podium will be Kyffin Simpson.
McElrea and Rasmussen round of the Top 5.
This is Naninni’s first INDY NXT win.
We’ll have more on this race later tonight.
INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix Results
|1||75||Matteo Nannini||35||Juncos Hollinger Racing|
|2||26||Louis Foster||35||Andretti Autosport|
|3||21||Kyffin Simpson||35||HMD Motorsports|
|4||27||Hunter McElrea||35||Andretti Autosport|
|5||6||Christian Rasmussen||35||HMD Motorsports|
|6||3||Josh Green||35||HMD Motorsports|
|7||29||James Roe||35||Andretti Autosport|
|8||76||Rasmus Lindh||35||Juncos Hollinger Racing|
|9||51||Jacob Abel||35||Abel Motorsports|
|10||47||Enaam Ahmed||35||Cape Motorsports|
|11||68||Danial Frost||35||HMD Motorsports|
|12||57||Colin Kaminsky||35||Abel Motorsports|
|13||39||Nolan Siegel||35||HMD Motorsports|
|14||98||Jagger Jones||35||Cape Motorsports|
|15||28||Jamie Chadwick||35||Andretti Autosport|
|16||10||Reece Gold||35||HMD Motorsports|
|17||14||Josh Pierson||35||HMD Motorsports|
|18||7||Christian Bogle||35||HMD Motorsports|