Hunter McElrea

Hunter McElrea earned his first INDY NXT by Firestone pole of the season, leading Andretti Autosport’s 1-2 performance in qualifying Friday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

McElrea turned a top lap of 1 minute, 15.1216 seconds in the No. 27 Smart Motors car for his fourth career pole and first since taking the top spot in July 2022 at Iowa Speedway.

SEE: Qualifying Results

“It feels like I just won a championship, getting a pole,” McElrea said. “Qualifying has been our Achilles’ heel all year. This new format has been a bit tougher than it probably should have been for us, but we executed that amazing. The team gave me a mega car. It was exactly what I wanted.”

The 35-lap race starts at 5 p.m. ET today, with live coverage on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

James Roe qualified a career-best second at 1:15.5074 in the No. 29 Topcon car fielded by Andretti Autosport. His previous-best start was fourth last month at Iowa.

Kyffin Simpson will start on the inside of Row 2 on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course after a lap of 1:15.5134 in the No. 21 HMD Motorsports with CGR car. Andretti Autosport rookie Louis Foster, who led practice this morning, qualified fourth at 1:15.5276 in the No. 26 Copart/USF Pro Championship entry.

Reece Gold qualified fifth at 1:15.5907 in the No. 10 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car, and fellow rookie teammate Josh Pierson qualified a career-best sixth at 1:15.6159 in the No. 14 HMD Motorsports with ECR machine.

Championship leader Christian Rasmussen qualified a disappointing ninth – his lowest spot of the season – at 1:15.6679 in the No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR car. Rasmussen leads second place Nolan Siegel by 45 points with five races remaining.

Rookie Siegel qualified seventh at 1:15.6246 in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports with DCR car.