Hunter McElrea

Event: INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio, 35 laps or 55 minutes

Track Specs: 2.258-mile, 13-turn natural terrain road course

Tune In (all times Eastern): Race – 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday, July 2 (Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Qualifying – 2:05 p.m. Saturday, July 1 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Practice 2 – 8:35 a.m. Saturday, July 1 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Practice 1 – 1:55 p.m. ET Friday, June 30 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network)

Last Year’s Winner: Hunter McElrea (Andretti Autosport)

Last Year’s Pole Sitter: Hunter McElrea (Andretti Autosport)

Spotlight: This weekend marks the halfway point of the 2023 season, round seven of 14.

Nolan Siegel became the first multitime winner of 2023 at the most recent round, at Road America. The result, along with early retirement trouble for title rival and HMD Motorsports teammate Christian Rasmussen, vaulted Siegel to a commanding 40-point advantage (229-189) in the championship standings.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen, who has finished in the top 10 in five of the six races this year, will look to bounce back from a crash in Road America that left him with a 19th-place finish. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course could be the perfect place to do it as he finished a respectable fourth at the asphalt rollercoaster as a rookie last year.

There may be no other driver that has looked forward to returning to Mid-Ohio more than Hunter McElrea, who went flag-to-flag from pole to win last year’s race and collect his maiden INDY NXT by Firestone victory. The driver of the No. 27 Smart Motors entry for Andretti Autosport is coming off his best finish of the year at Road America, where he finished third. That podium helped him move into third in the title picture, 56 points behind Siegel (229-173).

Notes & Nuggets: Since 2007, there have been 23 INDY NXT by Firestone races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, including four in 2021 when it also held doubleheaders during the Fourth of July weekend and during the season finale in early October. Of those, the winner has started on pole 17 times. Additionally, the last time a winner didn’t come from the front row was in 2017, when Nico Jamin drove from third to first in the second race of the doubleheader round. No winner has come from further back than seventh, which was accomplished by James Davison in 2008 (Race 2).

Only three times since 2007 has the winner of Mid-Ohio gone on to win the championship (Kyle Kirkwood, 2021; Oliver Askew, 2020; Pato O’Ward, 2018).

Andretti Autosport has yet to see any of its four drivers – Jamie Chadwick, Louis Foster, McElrea or James Roe – find Victory Lane this season. However, the team has dominated on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn natural terrain road course, with 11 wins – most among current teams. In fact, the only other active team to score a victory at Mid-Ohio is HMD Motorsports, which has one courtesy of Linus Lundqvist in the 2021 season finale.