Archives for TSO’s INDY NXT by Firestone coverage

Foster nabs impressive double pole in the Motor City

Louis Foster in the USF Pro Championships sponsored No. 26 from the Andretti Autosport sets up for Turn 4 on the way to a pole position on the 1.645-mile, 9-turn, downtown Detroit street circuit (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – James Black)

By Steve Wittich

It’s not often that you see a driver dominate INDY NXT by Firestone qualifying, but that’s what happened when Andretti Autosport rookie and reigning USF Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster scored a dominant double pole on the 1.645-mile, 9-turn, downtown Detroit street circuit.

His impressive performance included a dominant performance in qualifying for Race #1 and a heroic effort with a damaged car in qualifying for Race #2.

It’s not often that you see a driver dominate INDY NXT by Firestone qualifying, but that’s what happened when Andretti Autosport rookie and reigning USF Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster scored a dominant double pole on the 1.645-mile, 9-turn, downtown Detroit street circuit.

His impressive performance included a dominant performance in qualifying for Race #1 and a heroic effort with a damaged car in qualifying for Race #2.

Hunter McElrea (Andretti Autosport), Reece Gold (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), Nolan Siegel (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) and Christian Rasmussen (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) qualified in the top five for both races.

That was a relief for championship leader Rasmussen, who missed most of the lone practice with a mechanical issue.

Christian Rasmussen (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) sits on pit road at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment- Joe Skibinski)

Considering we only got five laps of practice today due to a mechanical problem with the car, we still managed to put it on the front row for race 2,” exclaimed a happy Rasmussen on social media. First up is race 1 tomorrow, and we’re starting fifth. I have a good car underneath me, and we’re looking to make moves.”

Qualifying #1

When the first INDY NXT by Firestone qualifying session started, the ambient temperature was 91F, and the track temperature was 113.2F.

With only eight minutes to set a quick lap, the 19 drivers quickly got out on the 1.645-mile, 9-turn, downtown Detroit street circuit, with Cape Motorsports rookie Enaam Ahmed leading the train of cars off pit road.

Danial Frost (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) and James Roe (Andretti Autosport) committed a pit lane usage offense for crossing over the blue line dividing the two halves of the pit road, serving drive-thru penalties.

Rasmus Lindh, in the No. 76 from the Juncos Hollinger Racing stable, went long in Turn 4 on his first hot lap, earning a penalty for causing a local yellow.

After three laps, at the halfway point of the qualifying session, Foster, Siegel, Frost, McElrea and Green were the top five.

Late in the session, Danial Frost, Christian Bogle and Toby Sowery were all on the pit lane getting repairs to damaged suspension after tapping a wall.

Race control announced that an incident between Rasmussen and Nannini was under review. They determined that the Juncos Hollinger Racing driver interfered with the points leader. That cost him his fastest lap, dropping him from third to 16th in that session.

Over the last two minutes of qualifying, Green, McElrea, Foster, Gold and finally, Foster traded the provisional pole, with the reigning USF Pro 2000 champion grabbing his second pole of the young INDY NXT by Firestone season.

“The first one was a good session,” said 19-year-old Brit Foster. “It was pretty easygoing. Just hit our marks. For the last two years, I’ve turned up to brand-new circuits and had to qualify quickly. So, I knew this would suit me this weekend.”

Foster’s significant margin to his teammate McElrea was over 6/10th of a second, with Gold a full second behind.

Three drivers were within a tenth of a second of Gold, and starting positions three through 13 were covered by only half of a second.

INDY NXT by Firestone Qualifying #1 Unofficial Results

126Louis FosterAndretti Autosport1:06.9468——
227Hunter McElreaAndretti Autosport1:07.59260.6458
310Reece GoldHMD Motorsports1:07.97411.0273
439Nolan SiegelHMD Motorsports1:08.07951.1327
56Christian RasmussenHMD Motorsports1:08.09151.1447
676Rasmus LindhJuncos Hollinger Racing1:08.11751.1707
73Josh GreenHMD Motorsports1:08.18491.2381
898Jagger JonesCape Motorsports1:08.20001.2532
921Kyffin SimpsonHMD Motorsports1:08.27001.3232
1051Jacob AbelAbel Motorsports1:08.31311.3663
1147Enaam AhmedCape Motorsports1:08.42811.4813
1257Colin KaminskyAbel Motorsports1:08.49101.5442
1329James RoeAndretti Autosport1:08.52511.5783
1499Ernie Francis Jr.HMD Motorsports1:08.68601.7392
1528Jamie ChadwickAndretti Autosport1:08.99082.0440
1675Matteo NanniniJuncos Hollinger Racing1:07.91472.2445
1768Danial FrostHMD Motorsports1:09.41412.4673
187Christian BogleHMD Motorsports1:10.72533.7785
1914Toby SoweryHMD Motorsports1:12.77765.8308

Qualifying #2

After a ten-minute break, the same 19 drivers, including those that needed repairs, filed out of the pit road and onto the track, with the ambient temperature of 91F and the temperature of the asphalt 110F.

This time, Jacob Abel served a drive-thru after going across the blue line dividing the pit road.

At the three-minute mark of the second qualifying session, Nannini, a winner on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, slapped the wall at the exit of Turn 7, continuing but eventually coming to a stop near the end of the session and only going 18th quick.

With three minutes remaining, the top five were Nolan Siegel, Kyffin Simpson, Danial Frost, Christian Rasmussen and Rasmus Lindh.

Race #1 pole sitter Foster had just gone third quick when he made significant contact with the left rear of his No. 26 at the exit of Turn 9, bending the toe-link but continuing.

Over the last minute of qualifying McElrea, Gold, and, surprisingly, Foster all went quicker, with the Andretti Autosport rookie grabbing his second straight pole and third street circuit pole of the 2023 season.

“I tapped the wall on the exit of the last corner with like four laps to go,” said Foster to Michael Young from the INDYCAR Radio Network. “So, I was like sideways down the straight with the steering. Not a great thing to happen in qualifying, but we made it work. The team did an amazing job.”

Somehow, Andretti Autosport rookie and reigning USF Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster set the pole winning lap with this suspension damage (Photo Courtesy of Louis Foster’s Instagram)

The session had numerous penalties, with Bogle, Francis, Jr., Jones and Nannini all running afoul of rule, which covers a driver causing a local yellow that impacts a competitor. As a result, they all lost their fastest lap to the point.

Francis, Jr., driving with a brace after fracturing the scaphoid in his left wrist, recovered to qualify an impressive sixth, his best career INDY NXT by Firestone qualifying position.

Ernie Francis, Jr. in the No. 99 Force Indy/HMD Motorsports navigates Turn 3 of the 1.645-mile, 9-turn, downtown Detroit street circuit Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – James Black)

The other three could not recover and with start 15th (Jones), 17th (Bogle) and 18th (Nannini).

Kyffin Simpson was penalized for qualifying interference via, losing his two fastest laps to the point. Unfortunately, that means the Chip Ganassi Racing development driver will start from 19th for Sunday’s race.

INDY NXT by Firestone Qualifying #2 Unofficial Results

126Louis FosterAndretti Autosport1:06.8374——
26Christian RasmussenHMD Motorsports1:07.02800.1906
339Nolan SiegelHMD Motorsports1:07.05570.2183
410Reece GoldHMD Motorsports1:07.12250.2851
527Hunter McElreaAndretti Autosport1:07.35390.5165
699Ernie Francis Jr.HMD Motorsports1:07.56760.7302
757Colin KaminskyAbel Motorsports1:07.61850.7811
868Danial FrostHMD Motorsports1:07.64740.8100
951Jacob AbelAbel Motorsports1:07.66530.8279
1047Enaam AhmedCape Motorsports1:07.71170.8743
1129James RoeAndretti Autosport1:07.84411.0067
1276Rasmus LindhJuncos Hollinger Racing1:07.87701.0396
1314Toby SoweryHMD Motorsports1:07.90211.0647
1428Jamie ChadwickAndretti Autosport1:08.06751.2301
1598Jagger JonesCape Motorsports1:08.31181.4744
163Josh GreenHMD Motorsports1:08.60011.7627
177Christian BogleHMD Motorsports1:08.61701.7796
1875Matteo NanniniJuncos Hollinger Racing1:08.82091.9835
1921Kyffin SimpsonHMD Motorsports1:09.95643.1190

The first of two INDY NXT by Firestone 45-lap races is scheduled to get the green flag at 12:05 pm on Saturday.

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.

TSO’s INDY NXT by Firestone preview from Detroit

By Steve Wittich

An artists rendering of the 1.7-mile, 9 turn, downtown Detroit street circuit that will host an INDY NXT by Firestone doubleheader on June 3 & 4, 2023 (Rendering Courtesy of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix)

Detroit basics

  • Event: 4
  • Races: 4 & 5
  • Track: 1.7-mile, 9 turn, downtown Detroit street circuit – runs counterclockwise
  • Race distances:
    • Saturday: 45 laps or 55 minutes
    • Sunday: 45 laps or 55 minutes
  • Entry list:
  • Tires: three new sets of Firestone INDY NXT tires and one carry-over from the last race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course
  • Push to pass: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation
  • Qualifying: one 30-minute session is into a pair of fifteen minutes portions, of which eight minutes will be green. The first half sets the field for Saturday’s race, and the second half sets the field for Sunday’s race
  • Video: the INDY NXT by Firestone Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader will be streamed on Peacock, with practice and qualifying shown on INDYCAR LIVE
  • Audio: all INDY NXT by Firestone sessions air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 160, and the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA

INDY NXT by Firestone weekend schedule:

Friday11:30 am – noon – INDY NXT Autograph Session

  • 11:30 am – noon – INDY NXT Autograph Session
  • 1:50 pm – 2:40 pm – INDY NXT Practice #1
  • 5:30 pm – 6 pm – INDY NXT Qualifying


  • 12:05 pm – INDY NXT Race #1 (45 laps or 55 minutes)


  • 12:50 pm – INDY NXT Race #2 (45 laps or 55 minutes)

The doubleheader will be the 18th and 19th INDY NXT by Firestone races held in the Motor City. Three previous races were held on the original downtown Detroit circuit, while 14 were contested at The Raceway On Belle Isle. 

Previous INDY NXT by Firestone winners in the Motor City include:

The Raceway On Belle Isle

2022 Race #2Linus LundqvistHMD Motorsports
2022 Race #1Linus LundqvistHMD Motorsports
2021 Race #2Kyle KirkwoodAndretti Autosport
2021 Race #1Kyle KirkwoodAndretti Autosport
2012Gustavo YacamanTeam Moore
2000Jonny KaneTeam Green
1999Derek HigginsTeam Mexico Herdez
1998Airton DareTasman Motorsports
1997Tony KanaanTasman Motorsports
1996Tony KanaanTasman Motorsports
1995Robbie BuhlDorricott Racing
1994Steve RobertsonTasman Motorsports
1993Steve RobertsonTasman Motorsports
1992Adrian FernandezJohn Martin Racing

Detroit Downtown Street Circuit – 2.52-mile street circuit

1991Eric BachelartLandford Racing
1990Tommy ByrneGenoa Racing
1989Ted PrappasTeamkar International

Downtown Detroit has played host to the following American open-wheel junior formula races:

  • Super Vee – 1982 – Jerrill Rice
  • Formula Atlantic – 1983 Josele Garza
  • Super Vee – 1985 – Peter Pandur
  • Super Vee – 1986 – Scott Attchison
  • Super Vee – 1987 – Paul Radisch
  • Super Vee – 1988 – Paul Radisch 
  • American Racing Series – 1989 – Ted Prappas
  • American Racing Series – 1990 – Tommy Byrne
  • Indy Lights – 1991 – Eric Bachelar
1991 Firestone Indy Lights Championship from Downtown Detroit

Points permutations

Despite being only three races into a 14-race schedule, it’s never too early to start looking at the season-long championship. With a doubleheader this weekend, the chase for the big prize will heat up.

Things can change quickly this early in the season, as evidenced by the winner last time out, Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie Matteo Nannini moving from 17th to fourth on the championship table.

With 19 entries, limiting your finishes outside the top ten is essential, proven by current points leader HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing sophomore Christian Rasmussen. The Dane is the only driver to have finished in the top ten and top five in the three races to start the season, giving him an 18-point lead over teammate Nolan Siegel.

Siegel, an 18-year-old Californian, started the season with two straight podiums before a disappointing 13th-place effort last time out on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The drivers between fourth and 12th in the title standings are separated by only 21 points, making each and every point important.

2023 INDY NXT by Firestone points standings

1Christian RasmussenHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 116 
2Nolan Siegel – rHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 98-18
3Danial FrostHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 90-26
4Matteo Nannini – rJuncos Hollinger Racing 84-32
5Hunter McElreaAndretti Autosport 79-37
6Josh Green – rHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 76-40
7Jacob AbelAbel Motorsports 74-42
8Louis Foster – rAndretti Autosport 74-42
9James Roe, Jr.Andretti Autosport 69-47
10Kyffin SimpsonHMD Motorsports 67-49
11Colin Kaminsky – rAbel Motorsports 65-51
12Enaam Ahmed – rCape Motorsports 63-53
13Christian BogleHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 56-60
14Ernie Francis, Jr.HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 52-64
15Reece Gold – rJuncos Hollinger Racing 51-65
16Jamie Chadwick – rAndretti Autosport 51-65
17Jagger Jones – rCape Motorsports 46-70
18Rasmus LindhHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing 46-70
19Toby SoweryHMD Motorsports 35-81
20Josh Pierson – rHMD Motorsports 27-89
Eventual INDY NXT by Firestone champion Linus Lundqvist celebrates a victory on Belle Isle in 2022 (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – Chris Owens)

Previous INDY NXT by Firestone champions that won in the Motor City:

  • 2022 – champion Linus Lundqvist won both races
  • 2021 – champion Kyle Kirkwood won both races
  • 1997 – champion Tony Kanaan won
  • 1994 – champion Steve Robertson won
  • 1991 – champion Eric Bachelart won

Street Circuit Prowess

Abel Motorsports sophomore Jacob Abel led 27 laps at the first street circuit event of the 2023 INDY NXT by Firestone season in St. Petersburg, Fla., after starting outside the first row. The 22-year-old brought his No. 51 Abel Motorsports IL-15 home in third place, which should give the team confidence heading into the second street event of the season.

Jacob Abel leads during the last INDY NXT by Firestone street circuit race in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment- Joe Skibinski)

However, it’s not just Abel’s fantastic performance in St. Pete that should leave the Speedway, Ind.-based team confident as they head to the Motor City for a critical doubleheader.

Team manager John Brunner and Abel’s engineer Kent Boyer had plenty of success on street courses at Belardi Auto Racing. Between 2016 and 2019, the team with drivers – Felix Rosenqvist (three), Aaron Telitz (two), Santi Urrutia (two), Zachary Claman (one) and Felix Serralles (one) – won nine of the series 16 street course races.

The team should also carry momentum from their debut in the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, where despite the odds being stacked against them, they easily qualified with driver RC Enerson, besting a recent Indianapolis 500 winning team to make the field.

A Little More Equal Footing & A Lifetime Experience

TSO caught up with Cape Motorsports co-owner Dominic Cape at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, who was at the Clermont, Ind. oval for the USF Pro Championships Freedom 75 and Freedom 90.

The new two-car team has performed well, considering their competition has far more experience in the INDY NXT by Firestone series. However, Cape explained that they were looking forward to this event because everybody is on equal footing on the 1.7-mile, 9-turn, downtown Detroit street circuit, a new venue for everybody.

The Brownsburg, Ind. team’s rookie Jagger Jones spent Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was capped off by what the 20-year-old called a “lifetime experience.”

The third-generation racer joined Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Jr, Tom Sneva and other notable drivers in the annual parade of historic winners. An incredible experience that became ‘lifetime’ when he rolled out onto the track behind the wheel of ‘Ol’ Calhoun,’ the car his grandfather Parnelli Jones drove to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Victory Circle in 1963.

Jagger Jones behind the wheel of the No. 98 Offenhauser/Watson that his grandfather Parnelli wheeled to victory in the 1963 Indianapolis 500 (Photo Courtesy of Kevin Dejewski – ShutterSpeed Photography)

The Offenhauser-powered Watson roadster owned by J.C. Agajanian made five appearances in the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing.” Rodger Ward piloted the No.98, the number long associated with Agajanian, in 1960, before giving way to west coast sprint car star Jones in 1961.

Jones led 27 laps, finishing 12th and sharing Rookie Of The Year honors in his first Indianapolis 500 appearance. The following year, the chassis built by A.J. Watson took the pole, officially becoming the first car to break the 150mph barrier. Jones led 120 laps before fading late.

Agajanian, Jones and crew turned up in May 1963 with some subtle aerodynamic, again winning the pole, but this time leading 167 of 200 laps on the way to victory. The chassis returned in 1964, with Jones starting fifth, leading seven laps, before a fire forced an early retirement.

Parnelli Jones celebrates winning the 1963 Indianapolis 500 (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment)

The No. 98 was then purchased by Tony Hulman and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, where the car that led 321 laps at the Brickyard is kept in running order and on display.

One Of Ours Won The Big One – INDY NXT by Firestone grads in the Indianapolis 500

  • The 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge was won by 2011 INDY NXT – then Indy Lights – champion Josef Newgarden, the ninth time a series graduate has won the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing.”
  • The Team Penske driver, the victor in the Freedom 100 in 2011 is the first driver to win the INDY NXT and NTT INDYCAR SERIES races held on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. 
  • Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009 & 2021), Dan Wheldon (2005 & 2011), Scott Dixon (2008) and Tony Kanaan (2013) are the other series graduates to win the Indianapolis 500. 
  • The 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge featured 19 graduates of INDY NXT, including four of the six drivers that started on the front two rows. 

The following INDY NXT by Firestone graduates (and their final year in the ladder series) started the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge:

  • Helio Castroneves (1997)
  • Tony Kanaan (1997)
  • Scott Dixon (2000)
  • Marco Andretti (2005)
  • Ed Carpenter (2005)
  • Graham Rahal (2006)
  • Josef Newgarden (2011)
  • Conor Daly (2013)
  • Jack Harvey (2015)
  • RC Enerson (2016)
  • Felix Rosenqvist (2016)
  • Colton Herta (2018)
  • Pato O’Ward (2018)
  • Rinus VeeKay (2019)
  • Devlin DeFrancesco (2021)
  • Kyle Kirkwood (2021)
  • David Malukas (2021)
  • Benjamin Pedersen (2022)
  • Sting Ray Robb (202

INDY NXT by Firestone Race Report and Results

The INDY NXT Paddock at IMS. Great way to meet the next generation of stars, doesn’t even require a garage pass. TSO Photo by Patrick

By Patrick Stephan

Pre Race notes from INDYCAR PR:

•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

PosCar #DriverLapsTeam
175Matteo Nannini35Juncos Hollinger Racing
226Louis Foster35Andretti Autosport
321Kyffin Simpson35HMD Motorsports
427Hunter McElrea35Andretti Autosport
56Christian Rasmussen35HMD Motorsports
63Josh Green35HMD Motorsports
729James Roe35Andretti Autosport
876Rasmus Lindh35Juncos Hollinger Racing
951Jacob Abel35Abel Motorsports
1047Enaam Ahmed35Cape Motorsports
1168Danial Frost35HMD Motorsports
1257Colin Kaminsky35Abel Motorsports
1339Nolan Siegel35HMD Motorsports
1498Jagger Jones35Cape Motorsports
1528Jamie Chadwick35Andretti Autosport
1610Reece Gold35HMD Motorsports
1714Josh Pierson35HMD Motorsports
187Christian Bogle35HMD Motorsports

INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix Qualifying Results

Matteo Nannini on track at IMS during testing in April 2023. Penske Entertainment: James Black

The very short INDY NXT by Firetone qualifying session got started with the ambient at 80F and the track at 106.3F.

Driver’s get just 8 minutes of green flag running to post their best time, and after Lap #3, it was Jacob Abel leading at 1:15.8840.

Already under 4 minutes and we get the slot machine portion of the session as Rasmussen leads, then Josh Green, then Matteo Nannini is P1 at 1:15.3194.

Kyffin Simpson goes P2 with 2 minutes to run, but McElrea knocks him down a spot. It’s Nannino, McElrea, Simpson, Green, Rasmussen, Foster, Pierson, Roe, Abel and Lindh is 10th as we go under 1 minute to go, so 1 or 2 laps left depending on where a car is relative to the time line.

Time expires and Nannini’s 1:15.3194 is the pole time. Louis Foster had improved to 3rd, but his final lap isn’t any faster.

Only Rasmus Lindh did his fastest lap on his final lap, so even as short as the session was, tires did appear to peak before the clock ran out. The big question then to me from a qualifying strategy standpoint is can someone wait a couple minutes – a big risk – and hope to match peak tire to peak track surface. Nannini’s fastest lap was actually his 3rd of 6, so perhaps it’s possible, but trying to run just 3 laps late – that’s putting on the pressure for sure.

This Nannini’s first career INDY NXT Pole. He had started 9th and 12th at St. Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park respectively.

We will have more on this interesting session at the end of the day.

UNOFFICIAL INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix Qualifying Results:

PosCar #DriverBest TimeDiffGapLapsBest LapGapTeam
175Matteo Nannini1:15.31941:15.3194–.—-63–.—-Juncos Hollinger Racing
227Hunter McElrea1:15.44670.12730.1273650.1273Andretti Autosport
326Louis Foster1:15.50700.18760.0603650.0603Andretti Autosport
421Kyffin Simpson1:15.53340.2140.0264640.0264HMD Motorsports
53Josh Green1:15.65170.33230.1183630.1183HMD Motorsports
66Christian Rasmussen1:15.68140.3620.0297730.0297HMD Motorsports
714Josh Pierson1:15.77630.45690.0949640.0949HMD Motorsports
829James Roe1:15.79490.47550.0186630.0186Andretti Autosport
951Jacob Abel1:15.88400.56460.0891720.0891Abel Motorsports
1076Rasmus Lindh1:15.91960.60020.0356660.0356Juncos Hollinger Racing
1147Enaam Ahmed1:15.93710.61770.0175750.0175Cape Motorsports
1268Danial Frost1:15.93990.62050.0028740.0028HMD Motorsports
1357Colin Kaminsky1:16.03570.71630.0958750.0958Abel Motorsports
1428Jamie Chadwick1:16.08170.76230.046640.046Andretti Autosport
1510Reese Gold1:16.09820.77880.0165640.0165HMD Motorsports
1639Nolan Siegel1:16.21730.89790.1191750.1191HMD Motorsports
1798Jagger Jones1:16.27530.95590.058640.058Cape Motorsports
187Christian Bogle1:16.42921.10980.1539640.1539HMD Motorsports

Indy Lights by Firestone GMR Grand Prix Practice Results and Notes

The video board on the back of the Pagoda. Lots of fans enjoyed the session sitting under trees in the Pagoda Plaza. TSO Photo by Patrick By Patrick Stephan These notes will be a bit different as I went outside to enjoy some of this nice weather and grab something to eat. But, I was…

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INDY NXT by Firestone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – pre-event notebook and preview

The start of a INDY NXT by Firestone race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2022 (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – Walt Kuhn)

By Steve Wittich

The third round of the 2023 INDY NXT by Firestone season will be a 35-lap (or 50-minute) race held on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. It will be the series’ 21st race on the infield road course at the iconic facility. 

Marco Andretti won the first Liberty Challenge on the road course. That race and the next three, between 2005 and 2007, supported the Formula One United States Grand Prix. 

Current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers Jack Harvey, Colton Herta, Rinus VeeKay and David Malukas have won at this event. 

HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing has been the dominant team since 2021, winning all four races and poles. 

Previous INDY NXT by Firestone race winners on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course

2022 Race #2Linus LundqvistHMD Motorsports
2022 Race #1Danial FrostHMD Motorsports
2021 Race #2David MalukasHMD Motorsports
2021 Race #1Linus LundqvistGlobal Racing Group w/HMD
2019 Race #2Rinus VeeKayJuncos Racing
2019 Race #1Robert MegennisAndretti Autosport
2018 Race #2Colton HertaAndretti Steinbrenner Racing
2018 Race #1Colton HertaAndretti Steinbrenner Racing
2017 Race #2Kyle KaiserJuncos Racing
2017 Race #1Nico JaminAndretti Autosport
2016 Race #2Dean StonemanAndretti Autosport
2016 Race #1Ed JonesCarlin
2015 Race #2 Sean Rayhall8Star Motorsports
2015 Race #1Jack HarveySchmidt Peterson Motorsports
2014 Race #2Luiz RaziaSchmidt Peterson Motorsports
2014 Race #1Matthew BrabhamAndretti Autosport
2007 Race #2Bobby WilsonBrian Stewart Racing
2007 Race #1Hideki MutohPanther Racing
2006Alex LloydAFS Racing
2005Marco AndrettiAndretti Autosport

Other Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course notes and numbers

  • Andretti Autosport leads all active teams with seven wins, with HMD Motorsports (four) and Juncos Hollinger Racing (two) also winning. 
  • Six of the last 11 INDY NXT races have seen a lead change, proving that passing is possible even though the pole sitter has won 13 of the 20 races. 
  • The average starting position of the 20 winners is 1.6, and the lowest a winner started was Dean Stoneman from inside the third row in 2016. 
  • Linus Lundqvist won three of the last four poles and is one of 15 different drivers to win a pole on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. That includes current drivers David Malukas, Rinus VeeKay, Pato O’Ward, Jack Harvey, and Graham Rahal. 
  • The average finishing position of the 20 pole winners is 2.2, with O’Ward’s seventh-place finish in 2018 being the worst. 
  • A dozen different Andretti Autosport drivers have stood on the podium 16 times, giving them the team lead over the other active teams, Juncos Hollinger Racing (eight) and HMD Motorsports (five).
  • INDY NXT races on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course average 0.5 cautions and 1.2 laps under yellow. Eleven of the races have been caution free. 
  • Last year’s rain-interrupted race #2 had three yellow flag periods, with seven laps run under caution. 
  • This year’s race will have the second most entries on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, trailing only the 25 drivers that started the 2007 doubleheader. 
  • All 20 races have finished under the green flag. In 2007 Bobby Wilson beat Alex Lloyd to the twin checkers by 10.526 seconds, the most significant margin of victory. Two years ago, David Malukas crossed the start-finish line 0.0283 seconds ahead of Toby Sowery, the closest INDY NXT by Firestone finish on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. 
David Malukas beats Toby Sowery to line in the closest INDY NXT by Firestone finish on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Photo credit: Gavin Baker Photography

Testing 1,2,3…

The INDY NXT by Firestone field took part in an open test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on April 6th. A pair of Andretti Autosport – Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster – drivers led the way. 

McElrea’s best lap was timed at 74.0499 seconds, and he was one of 11 unofficially under the track record. 

Hunter McElrea tries to keep warm during an April INDY NXT by Firestone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment- Joe Skibinski)

Unofficial testing times from the April 6th open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

127Hunter McElreaAndretti Autosport1:14.0499——
226Louis FosterAndretti Autosport1:14.2921-0.2422
36Christian RasmussenHMD Motorsports1:14.3765-0.3266
439Nolan SiegelHMD Motorsports1:14.4578-0.4079
575Matteo NanniniJuncos Hollinger Racing1:14.4722-0.4223
63Josh GreenHMD Motorsports1:14.5813-0.5314
721Kyffin SimpsonHMD Motorsports1:14.5875-0.5376
868Danial FrostHMD Motorsports1:14.6120-0.5621
910Rasmus LindhHMD Motorsports1:14.6323-0.5824
1047Enaam AhmedCape Motorsports1:14.6422-0.5923
1198Jagger JonesCape Motorsports1:14.6562-0.6063
1251Jacob AbelAbel Motorsports1:14.7425-0.6926
1328Jamie ChadwickAndretti Autosport1:14.8047-0.7548
1414Josh PiersonHMD Motorsports1:14.8335-0.7836
1576Reece GoldJuncos Hollinger Racing1:14.8367-0.7868
1629James RoeAndretti Autosport1:14.8646-0.8147
1799Ernie Francis Jr.HMD Motorsports1:14.9295-0.8796
1857Colin KaminskyAbel Motorsports1:14.9938-0.9439
1940Jack William MillerAbel Motorsports1:15.1142-1.0643
207Christian BogleHMD Motorsports1:15.3712-1.3213

Most of the field also tested at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Monday. Once again, McElrea led the way with a lap at 70.9504 seconds, unofficially over half a second under the track record of 71.580 seconds set by Jack Harvey in 2015. This time, the top nine drivers were under the track record. The drivers from second through ninth – Kyffin Simpson (HMD Motorsports w/Chip Ganassi Racing), Reece Gold (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), Foster, Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports), Danial Frost (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing), Christian Rasmussen (HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing) and Matteo Nannini (Juncos Hollinger Racing) separated by only two-tenths of a second. 

TBAs and Question Marks

When the INDY NXT by Firestone entry list came out on Tuesday, it featured a pair of too-be-announced (TBAs) and one question mark. However, as of Thursday at 3 pm, both TBAs had drivers, and the question mark had an answer. 

The No. 76 Juncos Hollinger Racing ride was left without a pilot when Reece Gold moved into the empty No. 10 at HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing seat, which Rasmus Lindh vacated before Barber Motorsports Park. 

It turns out that the two drivers essentially swapped seats when the Speedway, Ind.-based Juncos Hollinger Racing announced on Wednesday that 21-year-old Lindh would join the team for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course race. 

The Swede is no stranger to the Ricardo Juncos-led team, winning three races and standing on 13 of 16 possible podiums on the way to a USF Pro 2000 (then Indy Pro 2000) vice-championship in 2019. He also made half-a-dozen INDY NXT starts for the team in 2021. 

The driver for the No. 3 from the HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing stable was also listed on the initial entry list as TBA, but earlier on Thursday, the team announced that Josh Green would remain in that seat. The 20-year-old is sixth on the points table. 

HMD Motorsports w/ Force Indy sophomore Ernie Francis, Jr. was a question mark for this weekend. 

The No. 99 was side-by-side with Jamie Chadwick’s No. 28 (Andretti Autosport) when the 25-year-old was squeezed by Christian Bogle’s No. 7 as he re-entered the track after running wide in Turn 1. The three cars made contact with Francis, Jr., catching air and Chadwick sustaining suspension damage and spinning. 

Ernie Francis, Jr., the pilot of the No. 99 HMD Motorsports w/Force Indy entry catches air during a first lap incident at the Barber Motorsports Park Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment – James Black)

The contact fractured the scaphoid in his left wrist. Despite the pain, the seven-time Trans-Am Series driver completed all 35 laps finishing the race in eighth. The Floridan had successful surgery last week, and noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Terry Trammell fitted him with a brace and steering wheel grips. However, he was not cleared for wheel-to-wheel competition, and the car was eventually withdrawn. 

Francis, Jr. is 34 points behind championship leader Christian Rasmussen, tied for fourth. 


Each INDY NXT by Firestone entry will receive three sets of Firestone Firehawk slicks for practice, qualifying and the 35-lap race. With rain in the forecast, the teams might have to use one of the two sets of rain tires that they receive. The tires are the exact construction and compound used at all road and street course races this season (possibly except Road America). 

TSO note: On the subject of Road America, Linus Lundqvist conducted a tire test at the 4.014-mile, 14-turn natural terrain road course earlier this week. Our spies told us that between the new tarmac and Firestone Tires, laps times were more than 2.5 seconds quicker than the track record. 

The championship

With less than 15% of the possible points doled out and 15 drivers within one race win worth of points, it’s a little early to start making championship predictions. 

Veteran Christian Rasmussen, a race winner last time out at Barber Motorsports Park, holds a slight advantage over his rookie teammate Nolan Siegel, the only driver with two podiums to start the season. 

Only six of the 20 drivers have completed all 75 laps so far. Those drivers hold down the top three spots in the championship, and the lowest driver on the championship table is eighth. 

2023 INDY NXT by Firestone championship standings after two of 14 races 

1Christian RasmussenHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing86
2Nolan Siegel – rHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing81
3Danial FrostHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing71
4Jacob AbelAbel Motorsports52
5Ernie Francis, Jr.HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing52
6Josh Green – rHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing48
7Hunter McElreaAndretti Autosport47
8Colin Kaminsky – rAbel Motorsports47
9Christian BogleHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing44
10James Roe, Jr.Andretti Autosport43
11Enaam Ahmed – rCape Motorsports43
12Reece Gold – rJuncos Hollinger Racing37
13Jamie Chadwick – rAndretti Autosport36
14Toby SoweryHMD Motorsports35
15Louis Foster – rAndretti Autosport34
16Kyffin SimpsonHMD Motorsports32
17Matteo Nannini – rJuncos Hollinger Racing30
18Jagger Jones – rCape Motorsports30
19Rasmus LindhHMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing22
20Josh Pierson – rHMD Motorsports14

INDY NXT by Firestone weekend schedule


  • 11 am – 11:50 am – INDY NXT Practice
  • 12:45 pm – 1:15 pm – INDY NXT Autograph Session
  • 2:20 pm – 2:40 pm – INDY NXT Qualifying


  • 1:10 pm – INDY NXT Race #1 (35 laps or 55 minutes)

Reece Gold joins HMD Motorsports in INDY NXT by Firestone

By Steve Wittich

HMD Motorsports is bringing Reece Gold on board to take over their No. 10 INDY NXT by Firestone ride. 

Yesterday, Gold and Juncos Hollinger Racing mutually announced they were parting ways. 

Gold made two INDY NXT by Firestone starts for Juncos-Holinger Racing, finishing 8th in St. Petersburg and 17th at Barber Motorsports Park. 

The 18-year-old from Miami, Fla., has seven wins, 11 poles and 24 podiums in four seasons of USF Pro Championship competition. 

Rasmussen wins wild INDY NXT by Firestone race at Barber Motorsports Park

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

16Christian RasmussenHMD Motorsports35 LAPS
239Nolan SiegelHMD Motorsports-1.9983
314Toby SoweryHMD Motorsports-2.4034
447Enaam AhmedCape Motorsports-7.2734
529James Roe, Jr.Andretti Autosport-8.1976
657Colin KaminskyAbel Motorsports-9.2278
77Christian BogleHMD Motorsports-9.6447
899Ernie Francis Jr.HMD Motorsports-10.1627
968Danial FrostHMD Motorsports-13.2945
103Josh GreenHMD Motorsports-40.9199
1128Jamie ChadwickAndretti Autosport-3 LAPS
1298Jagger JonesCape Motorsports-5 LAPS
1327Hunter McElreaAndretti Autosport-5 LAPS
1426Louis FosterAndretti Autosport-10 LAPS
1575Matteo NanniniJuncos Hollinger Racing-22 LAPS
1651Jacob AbelAbel Motorsports-22 LAPS
1776Reece GoldJuncos Hollinger Racing-22 LAPS
1821Kyffin SimpsonHMD MotorsportsDSQ

INDY NXT notebook from Barber Motorsports Park

By Steve Wittich

Setting up today’s 35 lap INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix Of Alabama

Christian Rasmussen is the overwhelming favorite to win this afternoon’s INDY NXT by Firestone race at Barber Motorsports Park. Fourteen of 17 series winners at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course have come from the pole. Pato O’Ward won from an outside front-row starting position in 2018. Santi Urrutia (2016) and Nico Jamin (2017) won from the third starting position. 

The worst finishing position by a pole winner at Barber Motorsports Park is second. 

INDY NXT by Firestone races at Barber Motorsports Park average 0.8 cautions and 1.8 caution laps, with seven races having no cautions. There have only been four first-lap cautions. 

Favorable schedule and qualifying change

To better prepare drivers for the cadence of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES weekend, the INDY NXT by Firestone series is mimicking the schedule of their big brothers, with Friday practice, Saturday practice and qualifying and a Sunday race. 

It also includes a pressure-packed eight-minute qualifying session to familiarize drivers with the pressure they will face during Firestone Fast Six qualifying in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

The consensus from the drivers, engineers and team owners is overwhelmingly positive, with their only concern is finding space to lay down a flyer with the larger grids this season.  

That’s a positive problem, and the solution might be to split the field into two, giving them each six minutes and then taking the top four from each group to form an eight-car pole shootout in another six-minute session. 

Honoring a friend

Andretti Autosport INDY NXT by Firestone driver James Roe is honoring his friend and Irish rally legend Craig Breen at Barber Motorsports Park. 

The Irish driver traveled back home last week to attend the ceremony, posting the following on Twitter:

Tough day at home today,said good bye to one of the best in many years, he did so much for our island and always wore his heart on his sleeve. 

Flying back to the 🇺🇸 in the am, headed for @BarberMotorPark

Let’s do it for Breen & In Breen style – Flat out!

Rest Easy CB ❤️🇮🇪

James Roe on Twitter

Roe is also running a decal on the side of the Topcon-sponsored No. 29. 

Andretti Autosport driver James Roe, Jr. is honoring his friend, Irish rally legend Craig Breen, at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy of Andretti Autosport)

Missing in action

Unfortunately, Rasmus Lindh is not racing at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend. The USF2000 and USF Pro 2000 vice-champion piloted the No. 10 from the HMD Motorsports w/Dale Coyne Racing stable at the first race of the year but ran into funding issues. 

“Sad to say, as some of you have heard, I will not be racing at the Grand Prix Of Alabama this weekend because of backing issues,” said 21-year-old Swede on Instagram. “Good luck to the whole HMD Motorsports squad this weekend.”

GarageXYZ, the sponsor of the No. 10 at the season-opening race, posted the following message on social media.

“Following the exciting debut of the #10 Garage XYZ with HMD Motorsports entry at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, funding efforts fell through, resulting in the car being ineligible to race this weekend. We remain fully committed to supporting Rasmus Lindh in INDY NXT and will continue working tirelessly to give him the opportunity to compete in this exciting series.”

The HMD Motorsports No. 10 was in the paddock and ready for action at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy of HMD Motorsports)

TSO note: This is unfortunate for Lindh and HMD Motorsports. I (Steve) believe the driver has the talent to be an NTT INDYCAR SERIES, but he can’t catch the break he needs. HMD Motorsports loses a fast driver that gives them another competitive driver to help develop set-ups for the IL-15 with the new Firestone tires. 

Welcome back

Toby Sowery, an INDY NXT by Firestone race winner at Portland International Raceway in 2019, returns to the series for the first of five races in relief of Josh Pierson, while the Ed Carpenter Racing development driver is busy competing in the World Endurance Championship.  Note: Pierson along with his United Autosport teammates Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis stood on the second step of the LMP2 podium at the six-hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

“I am incredibly excited to return to Indy NXT with HMD Motorsports,” said Sowery. “The team helped me achieve my first American win back in 2019, and together, we went on to take six podiums and third overall in the championship. It’s been fantastic to watch them grow and develop over the last three years, and I am honored to be back representing them on track. I was really impressed with the set up at St Petersburg, and I am eager to get to work with the entire team for these five races. I am confident we can return to our winning ways!”

Toby Sowery in the DEFY sponsored No. 14 at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Courtesy of Penske Entertainment- Joe Skibinski)

The 27-year-old’s last open-wheel race was at World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway in 2021. Still, the Brit kept busy driver coaching and being named the first Radical World Champion against competitors from across the globe. 

Sowery made his American debut at Barber Motorsports Park, contesting a pair of USF2000 races in 2017 with an impressive fifth-place finish. He also made a pair of INDY NXT by Firestone starts, finishing fourth in both races to start the 2021 season. 

Making progress

The 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park natural terrain road course is the most physically demanding track that the INDY NXT by Firestone series will visit this year, meaning this was always going to be a challenging weekend for rookie Jamie Chadwick. We know she’s been training hard, but this weekend’s visit, the three-time W-Series champion will have a real-world idea of what she needs to work on in training. 

The DHL-sponsored driver has made good progress, starting the weekend 1.8 seconds off the top lap in the first practice and ending qualifying within a second of the pole. 

“I’m a bit disappointed,” explained Chadwick after qualifying. “I think from practice we made a good step, but it’s obviously super close. I didn’t feel like we quite got the tire, everything in the window for those five, six laps, so a bit disappointed, but I’m glad we’ve made a step and hopefully we can fight tomorrow on the race.”

Previous INDY NXT by Firestone winners at Barber Motorsports Park

2022Linus LundqvistHMD Motorsports
2021 Race #2David MalukasHMD Motorsports
2021 Race #1Linus LundqvistGlobal Racing Group w/HMD
2018 Race #2Patricio O’WardAndretti Autosport
2018 Race #1Patricio O’WardAndretti Autosport
2017 Race #2Colton HertaAndretti Steinbrenner Racing
2017 Race #1Nico JaminAndretti Autosport
2016 Race #2Santi UrrutiaSchmidt Peterson Motorsports
2016 Race #1Ed JonesCarlin
2015 Race #2Spencer PigotJuncos Racing
2015 Race #1Spencer PigotJuncos Racing
2014 Race #2Gabby ChavesBelardi Auto Racing
2014 Race #1Zach VeachAndretti Autosport
2013Carlos MunozAndretti Autosport
2012Sebastien SaavedraAndretti Autosport
2011Victor GarciaTeam Moore
2010JK VernaySchmidt Peterson Motorsports

You can catch today’s race at 11:55am (central) on Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE!, INDYCAR Radio Network, SiriusXM.

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