Event: INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix, 35 laps or 55 minutes
Track Specs: 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Tune In (all times Eastern): Race – 4:50 p.m. ET Friday, Aug. 11 (Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Qualifying – 2:20 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Practice – 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 11 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network)
Latest IMS Road Course Winner: Matteo Nannini (Juncos Hollinger Racing)
Latest IMS Road Course Pole Sitter: Matteo Nannini (Juncos Hollinger Racing)
Spotlight: The INDY NXT by Firestone is making its first-ever presence during the Brickyard Weekend, kickstarting the action that will be followed by the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series.
With that in mind, there is a different look to things compared to the last time the field competed at the Racing Capital of the World in May. Let’s start with the obvious: The IMS road course is the only track the INDYCAR development category visits twice, excluding doubleheaders.
There also have been changes to the grid since May. The likes of Victor Franzoni (Juncos Hollinger Racing) or rookies Francesco Pizzi (Abel Motorsports) and Kiko Porto (Cape Motorsports) were not part of the field in May. Franzoni is driving the same No. 75 entry that Matteo Nannini drove to victory earlier this year from the pole at the IMS road course. This weekend will also see the return of Colin Kaminsky, who missed the previous three races and last competed in an INDY NXT by Firestone round in June at Road America.
All eyes, however, are on the championship battle.
Christian Rasmussen has been on a hot streak, scoring two wins and two additional podiums over the last five races. That run of form has him comfortably atop the standings by 45 points over rival and HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing teammate Nolan Siegel (334-289) with five races to go. For his part, Siegel is trying to rebound from finishes that have seen him falter from the overall lead, a pair of 15th-place results and a fifth making up his last three rounds.
The battle for third in the title race remains tight, as Hunter McElrea is just two points ahead of Jacob Abel (275-273). Andretti Autosport’s Louis Foster sits fifth with 256 points.
Notes & Nuggets: Marco Andretti won the inaugural race for INDY NXT by Firestone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2005, when the race was known as the Liberty Challenge and run in June during the United States Grand Prix Formula One race. A break happened from 2008-13, with its return moving to the Month of May.
In 21 races, there have been 19 different winners. The only drivers to record multiple trips to Victory Lane are Colton Herta (2018, Race 1, Race 2) and Linus Lundvqist (2021, Race 1; 2022, Race 2). Additionally, Danial Frost, who won the opening round of last year’s doubleheader, is the only driver in the field this year that has a chance to join Herta and Lundqvist.
Fourteen of the winners started from pole. The furthest back anyone has started and gone on to victory was fifth, Dean Stoneman’s starting spot en route to victory in the second race of the 2016 doubleheader.
Andretti Autosport has scored seven victories, most of any team, but hasn’t done so since Robert Megennis took the win in Race 1 in 2019. HMD Motorsports has won the last four races on the IMS road course.
A win at the Brickyard’s road course doesn’t promise a title at year’s end. Only three times has the winner gone on to claim the championship (Ed Jones, 2016; Kyle Kaiser, 2017; Lundqvist, 2022). However, 10 of the 18 race winners have gone on to compete in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, and that least includes Andretti, Matthew Brabham, Jack Harvey, Herta, Jones, Kaiser, Alex Lloyd, David Malukas, Hideki Mutoh and Rinus VeeKay.