Event: INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix, 35 laps or 55 minutes
Track Specs: 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course
Tune In (all times Eastern): Race – 1 p.m. ET Saturday, May 13 (Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Qualifying – 2:20 p.m. Friday, May 12 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Practice – 11 a.m. Friday, May 12 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network)
Last Year’s Winners: Race 1 - Danial Frost (HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing); Race 2 – Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing)
Last Year’s Pole Sitters: Race 1 - Linus Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing); Race 2 – Lundqvist (HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing)
Spotlight: The changes coming into the weekend are not in short supply, with Rasmus Lindh returning from his one-race hiatus with a new look as he slides into the cockpit formerly occupied by Reece Gold at Juncos Hollinger Racing. In a unique swap, Gold has moved on to HMD Motorsports to drive the entry that was previously for Lindh, who previously drove for JHR in INDY NXT by Firestone and USF Pro 2000.
That isn’t the only unique occurrence, either, as Ernie Francis Jr.’s championship hopes have taken a hit after it was revealed May 11 the HMD Motorsports with Force Indy driver recently underwent a successful surgery on a broken wrist, which was suffered in an early incident in the last round at Barber Motorsports Park.
SEE: Race Details
Francis was fitted with a brace and will use special steering grips when he returns to action June 4 in Detroit. His No. 99 car was withdrawn from this weekend's event.
An update from HMD Motorsports read: “Unfortunately, Ernie is not permitted to compete in any wheel-to-wheel racing to ensure that additional injury does not occur and that he is 100% ready to battle in Detroit Sunday, June 4. Ernie will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all weekend long fulfilling his Force Indy and HMD Motorsports obligations, as well as taking in the on-track action and supporting his teammates in the quest for race wins and podium results.”
Francis is fifth in the championship standings, with two top-10 finishes in as many races to start the season, leaving him just 34 points behind leader Christian Rasmussen (86-52).
Notes & Nuggets: Marco Andretti won the inaugural edition of INDY NXT running on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course back in 2005, when the race was known as the Liberty Challenge and run in June. A break happened from 2008-13, with its return moving to the Month of May.
In 20 races, there have been 18 different winners. The only drivers to record multiple trips to Victory Lane are Colton Herta (2018, Race 1, Race 2) and Linus Lundvqist (2021, Race 1; 2022, Race 2). The only driver in the field this year that has a chance to join Herta and Lundqvist is Danial Frost, who won the opening round of last year’s doubleheader.
Thirteen of the winners have started from pole. The furthest back anyone has started and gone on to victory was fifth, Dean Stoneman’s starting spot en route to victory in the second race of the 2016 doubleheader.
Andretti Autosport has scored seven victories, most of any team, but hasn’t done so since Robert Megennis took the win in Race 1 in 2019. HMD Motorsports has won the last four races on the IMS road course.
Winning at The Brickyard’s road course doesn’t promise a title at year’s end, as only three times has the winner gone on to claim the championship (Ed Jones, 2016; Kyle Kaiser, 2017; Lundqvist, 2022). However, 10 of the 18 race winners have gone on to compete in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, and that least includes Andretti, Matthew Brabham, Jack Harvey, Herta, Jones, Kaiser, Alex Lloyd, David Malukas, Hideki Mutoh and Rinus VeeKay.