Event: INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix at Road America, 20 laps or 55 minutes
Track Specs: 4.014-mile, 14-turn natural terrain road course
Tune In (all times Eastern): Race – 11:10 a.m. ET Sunday, June 18 (Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Qualifying – 1:15 p.m. Saturday, June 17 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Practice 2 – 9:50 a.m. Saturday, June 17 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Practice 1 – 2:50 p.m. ET Friday, June 16 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network)
Last Year’s Winner: Christian Rasmussen (Andretti Autosport)
Last Year’s Pole Sitter: Sting Ray Robb (Andretti Autosport)
Spotlight: The championship is beginning to take shape after five of the 14 races this season.
Christian Rasmussen is the only driver who has finished in the top 10 at all five rounds thus far, but he only holds a 178-176 advantage over Nolan Siegel. For his part, Siegel comes to Road America after winning the second race of the doubleheader weekend June 4 on the Streets of Detroit, his first-ever win in the developmental category. Siegel has scored three podium finishes, one more than Rasmussen. But a mechanical failure while leading on the last lap in the opening race in Detroit, along with a 13th-place finish on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) road course in early May, have kept Siegel in pursuit of the lead.
There is a significant gap to third, with Andretti Autosport’s Hunter McElrea holding serve with 138 points in the wake of the two HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing drivers. While the gap from first to third is 40 points, only 25 points separate third from 11th (138-113). To give some idea of how tight things are among the group, Louis Foster’s third-place finish in Race 2 at Detroit propelled him from 12th to sixth in the standings. Additionally, HMD Motorsports with Force Indy driver Ernie Francis Jr., who was forced to miss the IMS road course round due to a wrist injury, rebounded with a podium finish in Race 1 at Detroit and sits 10th in the overall standings despite running one less race.
Notes & Nuggets: Road America, at 4.014 miles, is the longest track on the series calendar. At first glance, that amount of asphalt real estate presents an idea that a field of 19 cars could dramatically shuffle around. In the 11 races since the series arrived in 2016, though, no winner has come from farther back than fourth (twice – 2017, 2021) to win at Road America. But the pole sitter has only won three times.
The only former race winner in the field is Rasmussen, who could become the first driver to win multiple races at Road America in INDY NXT by Firestone should he find Victory Lane on Sunday. Additionally, the only former pole sitter in the field is Danial Frost, who started first in both races of the 2021 doubleheader.
Andretti Autosport has yet to see any of its four drivers – Jamie Chadwick, Foster, McElrea and James Roe – find Victory Lane this year. But the visit to “America’s National Park of Speed” could help reverse the tide as the team has scored the most wins (four) and poles (five) at Road America dating back to 2016.
Only once has the winner of at Road America gone on to win the championship, which happened courtesy of Kyle Kirkwood, who won Race 1 of the 2021 doubleheader. On four occasions, the winner at Road America has ended up finishing runner-up in the overall standings – David Malukas, 2021 Race 2; Rinus VeeKay, 2019 Race 2; Colton Herta, 2018 Race 1; Santi Urrutia, 2016 Race 2.