Home Road to IndyIndy Nxt McElrea on Indy Nxt pole at IMS as points leader Rasmussen struggles

McElrea on Indy Nxt pole at IMS as points leader Rasmussen struggles

by Ida Wood

Photo: Doug Matthews

Hunter McElrea claimed pole in a fast-paced Indy Nxt qualifying session on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, as points leader Christian Rasmussen struggled to ninth.

The session was completed in eight minutes thanks to it running green throughout, and Jacob Abel was first out of the pits and to set a lap. He recorded the fastest first lap of anyone, and second time around improved to 1m15.7872s.

Victor Franzoni went second fastest, two tenths of a second off the pace, and Rasmussen slotted into third place with five minutes to go. McElrea then shuffled him down to fourth, which became fifth as Louis Foster set a 1m15.6290s to go to the top while his Andretti Autosport team-mate Jamie Chadwick had a big lock-up at turn one and went off.

Rasmussen dropped another spot as Kyffin Simpson jumped up to second with a 1m15.7512s set with less than a four-and-a-half minutes remaining, and Abel kept himself in third by improving to 1m15.7545s.

Franzoni then returned to second place, but that lasted for 20 seconds as McElrea’s third lap – a 1m15.3051s – put him on provisional pole and Foster followed him across the line with an effort good enough to demote Franzoni to third.

There was more change to come, as Simpson set a 1m15.5207s to return to the front row with three minutes left on the clock. Abel improved in fourth, but dropped to fifth a short while later as Nolan Siegel set a 1m15.6246s.

At this point, with two minutes to go, Rasmussen was 16th and repeatedly not improving. His rivals could find more pace though, with McElrea setting a 1m15.126s to earn himself pole.

James Roe Jr was next to improve, rising to fourth place as Siegel went off at turn one. Simpson reduced McElrea’s advantage to 0.3918s with one-and-a-half minutes left on the clock, then Reece Gold went fourth fastest with a minute to go.

The response from Roe was a 1m15.5074s, lifting him all the way to second, and then the chequered flag came out.

It looked like nobody could beat McElrea, but the attention was on further down the order. On her final lap Chadwick secured herself 11th on the grid, and Rasmussen finally found more pace to go from 17th to ninth. His closest title rival, Siegel, will be starting two places ahead of him.

Qualifying results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 1m15.1216s 6
2 James Roe Jr Andretti Autosport 1m15.5074s +0.3858s 6
3 Kyffin Simpson HMD Motorsports 1m15.5134s +0.3918s 6
4 Louis Foster Andretti Autosport 1m15.5276s +0.4060s 6
5 Reece Gold HMD Motorsports 1m15.5907s +0.4691s 6
6 Josh Pierson HMD Motorsports 1m15.5009s +0.4943s 6
7 Nolan Siegel HMD Motorsports 1m15.6246s +0.5030s 6
8 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 1m15.6632s +0.5416s 7
9 Christian Rasmussen Juncos Racing 1m15.6679s +0.5463s 6
10 Jamie Chadwick Andretti Autosport 1m15.6747s +0.5531s 6
11 Victor Franzoni Juncos Racing 1m15.7161s +0.5945s 7
12 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports 1m15.8318s +0.7102s 6
13 Kiko Porto Cape Motorsports 1m15.8467s +0.7251s 6
14 Ernie Francis Jr HMD Motorsports 1m15.8765s +0.7549s 6
15 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports 1m15.9153s +0.7937s 6
16 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Racing 1m15.9229s +0.8013s 7
17 Francesco Pizzi Abel Motorsports 1m15.9899s +0.8683s 6
18 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 1m16.0598s +0.9382s 7
19 Colin Kaminsky Abel Motorsports 1m16.3637s +1.2421s 6