There was chaos, but the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 5 was perfect for Danial Frost.
Singapore native Frost made the most of the five cautions that interrupted the 40-lap race. He rose from a seventh-place starting position with calculated moves on each of the following restarts, but none was more critical than his pass on race leader Nolan Siegel on Lap 38. The two pushed into Turn 1 of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit, but Siegel went wide and opened the door for the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car of Frost. After a brief side-by-side, momentum carried Frost to the front, and he led the final two laps to claim a thrilling season-opening win.
“That was pretty wild,” said Frost, 21. “At that point, I would say our tires were pretty worn out. Trying to keep the car on the track was pretty challenging. We went on the restart and I saw that Nolan went on the defensive side, and I took the racing line. He went a little wide, so I was able to take advantage of that and managed (to get the lead).”
Frost also tied the record for the deepest starting spot a driver has come to win in this race, with Felix Serralles also accomplishing the feat from seventh in 2016.
“Well, I just put my mind to this, there were only six cars ahead of me,” Frost said. “So, I just had to make a move every single time, really mattered being at the front of the last lap. We just try to stay smart and not make mistakes for the entire race. I think we maximized the restart and did the best that we could on making the moves on the first few corners.”
As one of three previous race winners to return to the development series for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Frost automatically was marked as a championship contender. However, with 19 drivers on the grid in 2023, the thought was more about maintaining early consistency more than anything else. He’ll still relish the win, though.
“I'd say it's important for us to stay in the top five for the first part of the season here because we need to stay up there,” he said. “And once we get to the halfway point, it really starts to separate. But I think getting this P1 result is a momentum booster for us. And we're going to push forward at Barber and for their weekends on. I think it's a great start for us for the season, and I'm pretty happy with how this weekend went.”
The next INDY NXT by Firestone race is the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday, April 30 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.