Hunter McElrea will start from pole for the penultimate Indy Nxt race of 2023, while Christian Rasmussen will start from the front for the finale at Laguna Seca.
Two qualifying sessions took place on Saturday to determine the grids for the weekend’s two races, and the fastest lap changed hands rapidly throughout the first half of Q1, with Nolan Siegel, Reece Gold and Louis Foster all briefly on provisional pole.
McElrea then set a 1m13.3240s, significantly lowering the benchmark. Rasmussen would briefly knock McElrea off the top spot, but the Andretti Autosport continued to find improvements to end Q1 with a 1m12.3117s. Rasmussen finished the session 0.1963 seconds behind in second place.
There was still time to be found in Q2, and McElrea, Rasmussen and Foster would all beat McElrea’s Q1 time. Foster was the first to go under the benchmark set by McElrea with a 1m12.2094s, but Rasmussen and McElrea would go even quicker.
Rasmussen’s 1m11.7225s put him on provisional pole. McElrea also put in a stunning flying lap to end the sesison but was 0.1195s back in second. He is Rasmussen’s closest title rival heading into the deciding races.
There were a few incidents in Q1, including a run through the gravel for Victor Franzoni and a wide moment for Jagger Jones, but most of the field were able to stay on track and both sessions on the newly repaved track ran green throughout.
Danial Frost was third quickest in Q1, ahead of Franzoni, Kyffin Simpson and Foster, who was third in Q2. Gold, Simpson and Frost completed the top six in that session. Juncos’s Matthew Brabham was seventh fastest both times.
1 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1m12.3117s
2 Chritian Rasmussen HMD Motorsports +0.1963s
3 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports +0.3457s
4 Victor Franzoni Juncos Racing +0.5393s
5 Kyffin Simpson HMD Motorsports +0.5465s
6 Louis Foster Andretti Autosport +0.6427s
7 Matthew Brabham Juncos Racing +0.6702s
8 Reece Gold HMD Motorsports +0.7389s
9 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports +0.7531s
10 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports +0.9838s
1 Rasmussen 1m11.7225s
2 McElrea +0.1195s
3 Foster +0.3176s
4 Gold +0.5979s
5 Simpson +0.6504s
6 Frost +0.6712s
7 Brabham +0.9262s
8 Abel +0.9549s
9 James Roe Jr Andretti Autosport +0.9745s
10 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Abel Motorsports +0.9815s