Christian Rasmussen

Christian Rasmussen withstood the pressure of numerous late restarts to lead all 35 laps Sunday en route to victory in the INDY NXT by Firestone Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville.

Danish driver Rasmussen expanded his championship lead to 45 points over Nolan Siegel with his third victory of the season in the No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR car. Rasmussen has won the last two races in the INDYCAR development series, as he also captured the oval race July 22 at Iowa Speedway.

SEE: Race Results

Rasmussen, who started from pole after qualifying was rained out, drove to a 1.1594-second victory over runner-up Hunter McElrea in the No. 27 Smart Motors car fielded by Andretti Autosport. Jacob Abel finished third in the No. 51 Abel Motorsports car, 10.6525 seconds behind the winner.

“We were really good on the restarts and managed to pull a big gap at the start,” Rasmussen said. “I was just trying to manage it. Whenever they got close, I would put a good lap in and maintain that gap. The restarts were kind of tough, but I think we had some really good ones and had the pace.”

Irish driver James Roe finished a career-best fourth in the No. 29 Topcon machine fielded by Andretti Autosport, with Siegel rounding out the top five in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports with DCR entry as the top rookie finisher.

Rasmussen bolted away at the start after the first lap was under caution and cruised to a 4.7-second lead over McElrea during an otherwise clean first half of the race. But the first of three caution periods in the final 17 laps of the race was triggered on Lap 18 when Christian Bogle hit the wall in Turn 11 in the No. 7 HMD Motorsports with DCR car.

On the restart on Lap 20, Rasmussen eased away from McElrea. But there were intense duels for spots three through six on the 11-turn, 2.1-mile temporary circuit that includes two crossings of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge per lap.

That close racing led to two more caution periods in the final 10 laps. The first came on Lap 25 when Ernie Francis Jr. hit the wall in Turn 4 while jousting for fifth place in the No. 99 HMD Motorsports with Force Indy car. The final yellow flew on Lap 29 when Danial Frost was on the losing end of contact with Rasmus Lindh in a race for position, with Frost’s No. 68 HMD Motorsports with DCR car ending up in the Turn 4 wall.

Rasmussen was never challenged for the lead on any restart, but McElrea stayed on his gearbox briefly on Lap 27 restart before an oversteer moment let Rasmussen pull away.

“I think we got 100 percent today,” Rasmussen said. “On the top step of the podium, led every lap. I’m very happy. HMD gave me a great car. I rolled it around pretty good, I guess.”

The series races next in just five days, as the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 11. It’s a one-day event, with practice and qualifying Friday preceding the green flag of the 35-lap race at 5 p.m. ET (live, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network).