Louis Foster avoided a Lap 1 pileup and led all 35 laps to win the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Portland on Sunday at Portland International Raceway.
Rookie Foster, from England, started from the pole and earned his second victory of the season in the No. 26 Copart/USF Pro Championship car fielded by Andretti Autosport. He captured his first career victory in the INDYCAR development series in early July at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
SEE: Race Results
Foster won by 7.8583 seconds over fellow rookie Nolan Siegel in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports with DCR car. Siegel earned his best finish since winning in June at Road America. Danial Frost placed third in the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with DCR machine, his best result since winning the season opener in March at St. Petersburg.
“The boys gave me an amazing car,” Foster said. “I can’t thank them enough. I was just turning laps out there, to be honest. Once I had a comfortable gap that I knew I couldn’t be closed down from, I was just saving my tires, to be honest. I’m really looking forward to Laguna next weekend now.”
Christian Bogle finished fourth in the No. 7 HMD Motorsports with DCR car, tying his career best set last season at Detroit. Championship leader Christian Rasmussen finished fifth in a damaged No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR machine after a strong recovery from being collected in the first-lap fracas.
Rasmussen leads second-place Hunter McElrea, who also was involved in the early collision, by 65 points with just the season-ending doubleheader Sept. 9-10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca remaining. Rasmussen can clinch his first title if he leads by 54 points or more Saturday after the race.
“Wow – good recovery,” Rasmussen said. “That’s all I can ask for today, extending the championship lead going into Laguna. Very happy about that. We just basically have to finish the races at Laguna, and we’re champions.”
Qualifying on pole always has its advantages, but perhaps nowhere greater than Portland. The 12-turn, 1.964-mile road course features a tight chicane in the front straightaway as Turn 1, the site of numerous flashpoints on starts in the past.
Mayhem unfolded again in Calamity Corner at Portland on Lap 1, as the cars of Reece Gold, Josh Pierson, Kyffin Simpson, McElrea, Jacob Abel and Victor Franzoni were involved in a chain-reaction collision. Rasmussen’s machine was hit from behind in the incident, damaging its floor and punting it into a spin in Turn 1, but Rasmussen was able to continue.
That incident triggered the only full-course caution of the race, and Foster had no trouble pulling away on the restart on Lap 5.
Foster expanded his gap over Frost to 2.4788 seconds by Lap 10 and 5.3202 seconds by Lap 20.
While Foster ran away out front, there was a spirited joust for second on the final lap. Siegel stayed close to Frost in the closing laps before pouncing with an outside move in the Turn 1 chicane on the final lap to take second place.