Christian Rasmussen crossed the finish line last weekend as the winner of the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, and there was instant clarity in his mind.
“I knew I was champion (of the series),” he said.
And with that came the realization that the path he is on is true. He is on the road to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as he has been for the past few years.
Each step in Rasmussen’s U.S. motorsports journey has resulted in a season title. He became just the second driver in history – Kyle Kirkwood was the first – to wear the crown of a division that currently feeds the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
The 23-year-old Danish driver won the first two steps with Jay Howard Driver Development, then won INDY NXT by Firestone with HMD Motorsports with DCR. He spent last year with Andretti Autosport, winning the first two of what is now seven races in this series.
“Second guy in history to win all three ranks of the 'Road to Indy' is truly amazing,” Rasmussen said. “Now I just hope that we can make next year happen, get a full-time INDYCAR ride. I would say that’s kind of the last step of the Road to Indy.”
Rasmussen will have a significant sponsorship opportunity to bring to an NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams, and there are several rides still to be claimed, including those at Ed Carpenter Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Dale Coyne Racing and maybe others.
Rasmussen hopes to follow recent INDY NXT by Firestone champions Pato O’Ward (2018), Kirkwood (2021) and Linus Lundqvist (2022) into the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. O’Ward and Kirkwood have combined to win six races at the sport’s highest level, with Kirkwood scoring his first two this season for Michael Andretti’s organization. O’Ward drives for Arrow McLaren. Lundqvist is joining Chip Ganassi Racing, which had the top two drivers in the final standings, after an impressive three-race stint with Meyer Shank Racing.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Rasmussen, who arrived in the U.S. in 2018 to compete in the Formula 4 Championship, where he finished third, two positions ahead of Benjamin Pedersen. “I think we’ve proved to everyone that I’m ready to make that step (up) now.”
Rasmussen finished this season with five race wins, two poles, eight podium finishes and 10 top-five finishes in 14 races to finish 65 points ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Hunter McElrea. No other driver won more than two races this season.
Rasmussen won the second race of the season, at Barber Motorsports Park, then he captured the first of the series’ two oval races -- at Iowa Speedway, and he later added a win at World Wide Technology Raceway. His other win came on the Nashville streets.
He considers his oval season “dominant,” and team owner Henry Malukas agreed.
“I think Christian did an amazing job,” Malukas said. “We need more drivers like that.”
While Rasmussen doesn’t yet have an NTT INDYCAR SERIES ride for next season, Malukas predicted that he will be successful at the next level.
“He will succeed – he’s going to do good in the future,” Malukas said. “There’s no question about that.
“What he showed this season, it’s just unbelievable. He makes it look easy.”