Jacob Abel

The waiting was the hardest part for Jacob Abel, but his patience was rewarded with his first career INDY NXT by Firestone pole Friday for the series’ race at Iowa Speedway.

Abel turned a two-lap average speed of 162.244 mph in the No. 51 Abel Motorsports car on the .894-mile oval. His previous best start was second in the series opener in March on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

SEE: Qualifying Results

“Qualifying has definitely been a little bit of our Achilles heel this year,” Abel said. “So, to pull this out is unbelievable, especially on an oval. That’s like the most stressful thing you can do as a driver ever. Especially going fifth to last (in the order).

“I had a lot of people to watch, so when I got out of the car, I wasn’t necessarily done. Huge shoutout to the Abel Motorsports guys. This is a huge step for us. We’re right there in the championship. We just need a good couple of weekends, and we’ll be right there.”

Up next is the 75-lap race Saturday, with live coverage starting at 11 a.m. ET on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Abel will try to convert his first pole into a first career victory. He is fifth in the series standings in this breakthrough season for the small, family-owned team, 48 points behind leader Nolan Siegel of HMD Motorsports and nine points behind third-place Hunter McElrea of Andretti Autosport.

Christian Rasmussen, fastest in practice earlier Friday and in the Open Test last month, will join Abel on the front row after qualifying second at 161.532 in the No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR car. Rasmussen in second in the standings, 16 points behind Siegel.

Siegel qualified third at 161.175 in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports with DCR machine. James Roe will start a career-best fourth at 161.168 in the No. 29 Topcon car fielded by Andretti Autosport. Roe’s previous best start was eighth.

2022 Iowa winner McElrea qualified fifth at 160.612 in the No. 27 Smart Motors car fielded by Andretti Autosport, while teammate and rookie Louis Foster fills out row three after qualifying sixth at 160.408 in the No. 26 Copart/USF Pro Championship machine.