Danial Frost staked his claim as a driver to watch for the 2023 Indy Lights championship by leading the Chris Griffis Memorial Test on Friday, Oct. 21 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Indy Lights veteran Frost, from Singapore, led the 16 drivers participating in the annual test with a top lap of 1 minute, 16.2526 seconds in the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry. That time came during the morning session on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course, and he also led the afternoon session at 1:16.2794.
“Today went pretty well,” Frost said. “I’m quite happy with how the progress has gone. We’re looking more to getting the balance right, and being at the top is a nice refresh and helps us make sure we’re making good progress. The team has done an excellent job even though we have nine cars now. We’re still fast.”
Less than one-half second separated the top nine drivers overall in the test, named in memory of Chris Griffis, the team manager of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports who passed away suddenly in September 2011. Griffis led the team to five Indy Lights championships from 2003-2011.
2022 Rookie of the Year Hunter McElrea was second at 1:16.3769 in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport car. Ernie Francis Jr., who has joined the powerful HMD Motorsports team for his second season in 2023, ended up an impressive third at 1:16.4489 in the No. 99 HMD Motorsports with Force Indy car. Francis finished 10th in the series standings as a rookie in 2022.
“Coming into today, expectations are high, being with HMD, a championship-winning team last year,” Francis said. “We know we have the potential to be fast, and today was pretty good. We ended up P3. Really happy with that. That’s the highest we’ve been in the order all season.
“I think it should be a really competitive (2023) season. The times look really close, and I think we have a top-five car. It will make for a good year.”
Rookie Nolan Siegel was fourth at 1:16.4852 in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne entry, and Kyffin Simpson ensured HMD drivers took four of the top five spots by ending up fifth at 1:16.4858 in the team’s No. 21 car.
There was only one incident in six hours of testing. Three-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick touched the grass at the entry of Turn 14 and made contact with the SAFER Barrier in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport car. She was unhurt and continued in the afternoon session.
The 16 drivers combined to turn 945 laps during the test.