Nolan Siegel leads INDY NXT practice, Turn 1 run-off is busy

By Steve Wittich

Sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted the 19 INDY NXT by Firestone drivers when their first Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix practice session began at 1:50 pm. The ambient temperature was 86F, and the track temperature was 117.7F.

After three minute delay to address some issues with the track, the green flag flew to start the 50-minute practice. Race control told the teams that they would get the entire session.

The 19 drivers quickly got to work, learning the 1.645-mile, 9-turn, downtown Detroit street circuit.

The first laps at speed were over 80 seconds, but after ten minutes, the drivers had chopped ten seconds off the best lap time.

After 15 minutes of practice, points leader Christian Rasmussen completed only one slow lap. Michael Young from INDYCAR Radio reported that the HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing crew had the engine cover off on the No. 6. Young reports that they also had the side pods off and had tried changing the (turbo) wastegate and boost box. The Dane finally got on track with 23 minutes remaining.

With a half-hour remaining, the reigning USF Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster (Andretti Autosport) had the quickest lap time at 68.5591 seconds. He was followed in the top five by Nolan Siegel (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), Hunter McElrea (Andretti Autosport), Toby Sowery (HMD Motorsports) and Jagger Jones (Cape Motorsports).

Cape Motorsports rookie Enaam Ahmed was the busiest pilot in the first half of the session, completing 18 laps.

After beginning practice on carry-over tires from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, drivers started to put on fresh Firestone INDY NXT rubber.

St. Petersburg winner Frost, with 20 minutes remaining, was the first driver to go under 68 seconds. Siegel, also on new rubber, was the next driver to find the top of the timing screens.

Rasmussen had still only turned three slow laps with ten minutes remaining. With five minutes remaining, he was finally getting up to speed, completing nine laps and getting within 3.3 seconds of his teammate Siegel.

The ambient temperature was up to 88F, and the track temperature had reached 121F.

Frost and Siegel continued to get quicker while Jagger Jones moved into the top five.

After a quick off-track excursion in Turn 1, Siegel lowered the fastest lap on his 31st lap of practice.

As drivers pushed the limits of the new circuit, the run-off areas in Turn 1, Turn 3, Turn 4 and Turn 8 all had visitors. Fortunately, no drivers made contact.

Turn 1, a tight 90-degree left-hand corner, had 13 of the 19 drivers visit the run-off 21 times. McElrea was the most adventurous driver, seeing the run-off in all four corners. However, the Aussie clearly learned where to push the limits, turning the second quickest lap of practice on his 31st of 31 laps.

INDY NXT by Firestone practice results

139Nolan SiegelHMD Motorsports1:07.0420——36
227Hunter McElreaAndretti Autosport1:07.18250.140531
368Danial FrostHMD Motorsports1:07.22140.179435
421Kyffin SimpsonHMD Motorsports1:07.62210.580131
526Louis FosterAndretti Autosport1:07.84220.800219
614Toby SoweryHMD Motorsports1:07.87810.836130
73Josh GreenHMD Motorsports1:07.95100.909034
857Colin KaminskyAbel Motorsports1:08.10421.062231
928Jamie ChadwickAndretti Autosport1:08.22101.179028
1098Jagger JonesCape Motorsports1:08.27211.230133
1147Enaam AhmedCape Motorsports1:08.27901.237032
127Christian BogleHMD Motorsports1:08.32851.286530
1376Rasmus LindhJuncos Hollinger Racing1:08.37191.329935
1429James RoeAndretti Autosport1:08.45851.416527
1599Ernie Francis Jr.HMD Motorsports1:08.65051.608527
1651Jacob AbelAbel Motorsports1:08.71651.674529
1710Reece GoldHMD Motorsports1:08.75531.713329
1875Matteo NanniniJuncos Hollinger Racing1:08.75731.715327
196Christian RasmussenHMD Motorsports1:10.40953.36759

The teams and drivers are back in action at 5:30 pm for a pair of qualifying sessions.