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Rasmussen confident of claiming Indy Nxt crown after Gateway win

by Ida Wood

Photo: Karl Zemlin

Christian Rasmussen claimed his sixth Indy Nxt win, and fourth of 2023, last Saturday night at the Gateway oval and it increased his confidence in his own title chances.

The HMD Motorsports driver took the championship lead in the second round of the season at Barber Motorsports Park, where he took pole, victory and fastest lap, and spent three more races atop the points before being overtaken by team-mate Nolan Siegel at Road America.

Rasmussen reclaimed championship lead by 22 points two races later at Iowa Speedway as he took another win, and victory from pole next time out on the streets of Nashville grew his lead to 45 points. It was then reduced by Hunter McElrea when Indy Nxt made its second visit of the year to Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, but the Gateway result has brought it up to its biggest margin yet.

With 50 points in hand, Rasmussen only needs to start this weekend’s race at Portland to guarantee he still leads the points going into next week’s double-header finale at Laguna Seca.

“What a race, what a race. It’s been kind of a weird weekend. I think it’s definitely the weekend of my caeer where I’ve had the least amount of laps around the track before we go into the racing,” Rasmussen said of his Gateway win, which was achieved from a pole position given to him after rain meant qualifying was cancelled and the points table set the grid.

“So it’s really about figuring it out quick, and I think we did a great job in practice. Obviously we were super quick, but we were super sharp on the changes that we made as well, so the car was super good. Hunter got past me there for a second. We both had to get by an Andretti car, and obviouly the Andretti [drivers like Hunter] gets a little bit of an easier time around.

“But it’s okay, I got it back. And just kind of managed it from there. I knew that I didn’t want to push too much, I kinda learned that lesson in Iowa. And I think we did a great job of that today, just managing the tyres, making sure that we had enough at the end, and as you can see I was kind of pulling away at the end. So I think we did a great job today, I’m very happy, we’re extending the championship lead, we’re going into the last three races brimming with confidence, and I’m just happy.

“It’s awesome [to have such a large lead], it’s such a confidence booster for sure. But we’ve been so strong all season. Two ovals wins this year, absolutely dominant. We’ve been winning on street circuits, we’ve been winning on road courses, we’ve been winning everywhere. It’s awesome. I feel super good for the west coast. I know there should be some strong tracks for us.”