New asphalt delivered plenty of speed and an interesting final order on the time sheet Friday after the first practice for the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix at Road America.
The entire 14-turn, 4.014-mile road course was repaved last fall, and the results were dramatic during the 45-minute session for the INDYCAR development series. Kyffin Simpson led with a best lap of 1 minute, 49.6479 seconds in the No. 21 HMD Motorsports with CGR car. Chip Ganassi Racing development driver Simpson, from the Cayman Islands, was a whopping 1.3996 seconds quicker than his closest pursuer, rookie Colin Kaminsky, whose best lap was 1:51.0475 in the No. 57 Abel Motorsports with Slick Locks car.
SEE: Practice Results
“It was really fun to get out there on the new tarmac,” Simpson said. “It’s so smooth, so it’s a lot of fun to drive. As the track grips up even more, with more rubber being laid down, it will be even quicker. I can’t wait for the next session.”
Track records only can be set in qualifying or the race, but Simpson and Kaminsky were among 12 drivers quicker than the official INDY NXT by Firestone mark of 1:52.0034 set on the old asphalt by Colton Herta in 2017. That record should be obliterated during qualifying at 1:15 p.m. ET Saturday (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network).
“It was the fastest I think I’ve ever driven,” Kaminsky said. “It’s crazy grippy compared to years prior here. Certain bumps in certain corners are gone, so it’s just glass. It was cool to get used to the new surface.”
While Simpson held a large edge atop the speed chart, less than one-half second separated Kaminsky in second to Detroit Race 1 winner Reece Gold in ninth in the No. 10 HMD Motorsports with DCR entry.
Simpson and Kaminsky led a top five that didn’t include either of the top two drivers in the series standings, Christian Rasmussen and Nolan Siegel.
St. Petersburg season opener winner Danial Frost was third at 1:51.1016 in the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with DCR car, followed by Jacob Abel at 1:51.1072 in the No. 51 Abel Motorsports car. Abel Motorsports put two cars in the top four during a strong outing.
Ernie Francis Jr. rounded out the top five at 1:51.3412 in the No. 99 HMD Motorsports with Force Indy car.
Points leader and Barber Motorsports Park winner Rasmussen ended up 10th at 1:51.5961 in the No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR car. Detroit Race 2 winner Siegel, two points behind Rasmussen in the championship, ended up 18th at 1:52.6957 in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports with DCR machine.
Up next is a 45-minute practice session at 9:50 a.m. ET Saturday (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network). The 20-lap race is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. ET Sunday (Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network).