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Abel unfussed by team-mate’s move but rues lack of Laguna Seca pace

by Ida Wood

Photo: Paul Hurley

Jacob Abel lost the Indy Nxt points lead at Laguna Seca in a weekend where his involvement in wheel-to-wheel battles highlighted a pace deficiency.

The Abel Motorsports driver qualified fourth for both races, and moved up to third on the opening lap of race one. He held that position until the penultimate lap when team-mate Yuven Sundaramoorthy – whose best finishing position prior to the weekend was ninth place – overtook him in a bold move at The Corkcsrew that included contact.

However Abel reclaimed third at the chequered flag after Sundaramoorthy hit Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Lindsay Brewer at the final corner while trying to lap her.

“We struggled today, a little bit for sure, just with overall pace. Especially with the tyre management,” Abel said afterwards.

“We kind of fell off a cliff there with about 15 [laps] to go. Before that, I was at least keeping [title rivals Louis Foster and Caio Collet, who finished first and second] in sight. So fell off a bit and Yuven was just super strong today. Big props to him, he’s been working super hard, and maybe we can learn a thing or two from him in the data overnight and move forward.

“But he had a good pass on me. It was aggressive, it was more aggressive than I thought he was going to be. Kind of got into the side of me. But I think it was clean nonetheless, and unfortunately he just made a mistake in the last corner and that cost him that. But we’ll take it however we can get it.”

He added: “I don’t think he did anything wrong at all. I’m not upset with him. Even if he ended up finishing ahead of me, I think he just made a good aggressive pass, and we were way slower than them for the past 10, 15 laps, and they were just stronger than us. If he’s faster than me and he can get around me cleanly, no dramas at all.”

Abel moved level with Foster at the top of the standings after that race, an outcome he was not bothered by as he said “I think if you would’ve told me we’d be tied at the halfway point [of the season] going into all of the ovals that we’re super strong at, as well as a couple of other tracks that we’re really strong at, I would have taken that any day of the week”.

While Abel feels “really confident headed into the rest of the season” and thinks it “will be a really good fight all the way to the last race”, he is now 35 points behind Foster as in race two he was unable to make progress from his starting position and then a clash with HMD Motorsports’ Reece Gold dropped him to 11th place.