Event: INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Alabama, 35 laps or 55 minutes
Track Specs: 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course
Tune In: Race – 12:55 p.m. ET Sunday, April 30 (Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE!, INDYCAR Radio Network, SiriusXM); Qualifying – 2:20 p.m. Saturday, April 29, (INDYCAR LIVE!, INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius XM); Practice – 2:40 p.m. Friday, April 28 and 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29 (INDYCAR LIVE!, INDYCAR Radio Network, SiriusXM)
Last Year’s Winner: Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing)
Last Year’s Pole Sitter: Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing)
Spotlight: Danial Frost rose from seventh on the grid to win the opening round on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 5.
While the near two-month break is nearing an end, the Singapore-born Frost has relished the chance to be the most series’ most recent winner but has also used the time to improve in hopes of continuing that momentum through the weekend.
SEE: Event Details
“It's great on my side because since I've won that first round, it's just a big ego boost and confidence boost for myself to keep pushing and to make sure that we're able to keep this momentum going,” said Frost, driver of the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry. “Coming back into the next round, even though it's such a big gap, I still think that I'm already zoned in and dialed in for the season. So, it's just that two months of getting me a little bit more prepped, learning a bit more of what I could do better after that first round. So, I would say it's only positive from having that win at St. Pete. It's just positives all around.”
Another convenient statistic is Frost finished fourth at Barber Motorsports Park last season, and none of the drivers that finished ahead of him in that race are in this year’s 19-car field. That isn’t to say it won’t be a challenge, as the likes of Andretti Autosport’s Louis Foster and Hunter McElrea will likely be a force, and Abel Motorsports’ Jacob Abel has unfinished business at the front of the field after a stellar showing en route to his maiden INDY NXT podium at St. Petersburg. There are also in-house challengers for Frost, with HMD teammates Christian Rasmussen and Nolan Siegel, who finished runner-up in St. Petersburg, also in the mix.
The mission for Frost is simple: Leave Alabama still in the championship lead.
“That's obviously the goal, to come out of this weekend still leading the championship or extending the points to whoever is second,” said Frost. “What I need to do is just make sure that I'm clear, keeping my nose clean, making sure that we stay on top of our game and completing as many laps as possible to understand what the car is going to do on the track and how it's going to play out for the balance per session. We just need to keep every advantage possible on our side to have that little gap to everyone else since INDY NXT is so tight with everyone. If you saw last round's qualifying, it was eight/tenths difference. So, I'm not expecting very much difference coming here to Barber.
“So, maximizing everything that we can out of the car is going to be super important, very vital for us to start the race. Qualifying here is the number one deal where you're going to finish in the race. So, yeah, just have to show that in qualifying that we're upfront and securing that podium position.”
Notes & Nuggets: There have been 17 INDY NXT races at Barber Motorsports Park, and 14 times the winner has started from pole. In fact, from the inaugural event in 2010 until the opening race of the doubleheader weekend in 2016, no other driver outside of the pole sitter found Victory Lane. Only twice has the race winner not come from the front row, and on both of those occasions it was from third on the grid (Santi Urrutia - 2016, Race 2; Nico Jamin – 2017, Race 1). Additionally, the pole sitter finished no worse than second in any race at the picturesque road course.
While starting from pole usually equals victory and a strong haul of points toward the overall championship, it doesn’t always mean hoisting the title at year’s end. Only six drivers have turned winning at Barber Motorsports Park into capturing that season’s championship. That list: Jean-Karl Vernay (2010), Gabby Chaves (2014), Spencer Pigot (2015), Ed Jones (2016), Pato O’Ward (2018) and Lundqvist (2022).
INDY NXT veteran Toby Sowery is replacing Josh Pierson behind the wheel of the No. 14 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry this weekend as Pierson is driving in the FIA World Endurance Championship round this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.