Hunter McElrea led an INDY NXT by Firestone Open Test on April 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course during which the top 11 drivers posted quicker times than the track record.
McElrea paced the five-hour test with a top lap of 1 minute, 14.0499 seconds in the No. 27 Smart Motors car fielded by Andretti Autosport. That was more than six-tenths of a second quicker than the official track record of 1:14.6743 set by Ed Jones during qualifying in 2016.
Twenty drivers turned laps on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course to learn more about the Firestone tires new to INDYCAR’s top development series this season and to prepare for the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix on Saturday, May 13 on this circuit.
“It was a super-positive day,” McElrea said. “I just wanted to understand the tire on a track we’ve raced at. We blew, unofficially, the track record away by a lot.
“Hat’s off to the Firestone guys. The (tire) degradation was way less than I was expecting, as well. Whenever you have more grip, it’s always more fun. I had a really good time. The whole Andretti team left here very positive.”
McElrea’s rookie teammate Louis Foster was second at 1:14.2921 in the No. 26 Copart/USF Pro Championship car, followed by Christian Rasmussen at 1:14.3765 in the No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR machine.
Rookie Nolan Siegel was fourth at 1:14.4578 in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports with DCR after turning a test-high 82 laps. Fellow rookie Matteo Nannini rounded out the top five at 1:14.4722 in the No. 75 Juncos Hollinger Racing machine.
Danial Frost, winner of the season opener at St. Petersburg, ended up eighth at 1:14.6120 in the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with DCR machine. The final driver quicker than the track record was rookie Jagger Jones, 11th at 1:14.6562 in the No. 98 Lead Sled car fielded by Cape Motorsports. Jones is the grandson of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones.
The series races next at the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday, April 30 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Live coverage starts at 12:50 p.m. ET on Peacock, INDY LIVE! and the INDYCAR Radio Network.