Louis Foster has shown flashes of pace that could make him a threat for the championship in INDY NXT by Firestone. No matter where he has started, though, chaos has followed.
The latest doubleheader round on the Streets of Detroit on June 3-4 was a prime example of his rookie season saga.
The 19-year-old Briton continued to demonstrate his qualifying prowess by sweeping qualifying and capturing pole for each race at the 1.7-mile, 10-turn temporary street circuit. Any hope of winning the opening race faded just seconds after leading the field to the green flag. As Foster charged into Turn 3, he was hit from behind by Andretti Autosport teammate Hunter McElrea, spinning Foster’s No. 26 Copart/USF Pro Championship entry into the outside wall and with an early retirement.
Foster rebounded with a third-place finish the following day, but the sting of leading only one of the 90 combined laps on a weekend originally filled with so much promise left a sour taste.
“It's good to finish this race and get some points on the board, but I think it's a weekend it should have been ... we had a pretty substantial gap to the rest of the field in qualifying,” Foster said. “The team did an amazing job. And then (Saturday's) race, being taken out at the start of the race wasn't helpful; lost any kind of deficit to the other drivers that we had because they got another 45 laps to practice (with the race) whereas I was sitting on the sidelines.”
The outing marked Foster’s second podium finish in five races, with the other results being 14th or worse due to incidents in each of the contests. Leaving Detroit, though, Foster propelled from 12th to sixth in the overall standings.
After the race, Foster was quick to point out the importance of damage control during the weekend as he shared the Race 2 podium with winner Nolan Siegel and runner-up Christian Rasmussen.
Rasmussen is the championship leader through five of 14 rounds, holding a two-point advantage over Siegel (178-176). Foster sits at 123 points.
“We need to get points,” Foster said. “We haven't been able to finish three of the last five races, so definitely important to just get points on the board and try to chip away these guys’ lead.”
Despite the early season rollercoaster, Foster remains the brightest spot thus far for Andretti Autosport. He is the only one among the team’s four drivers – Jamie Chadwick, McElrea and James Roe – that has stood on the podium. Foster also has a series-leading three poles, all of which have come on street circuits.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s 20-lap bout at Road America and beyond, Foster will hope the “bad luck” is over.
“I mean, look at our qualifying performance: three poles, two thirds, we're the best qualifier on the field by a mile,” said Foster, the 2022 USF Pro 2000 champion. “You know, just got to get rid of this bad luck. It just keeps coming our way really. I need to finish some more races, but we're always starting at the front. So, should convert more, really.”