Event: INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey doubleheader, 35 laps each
Track Specs: 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course in Monterey, California
Tune In (all times Eastern): Race 1 – 3:25 p.m. ET, Saturday, Sept. 9 (Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network); Race 2 – 12:50 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 10 (Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network); Qualifying (both races) – 12:05 p.m. ET, Saturday, Sept. 9 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network); Practice – 4:15 p.m., Friday, Sept. 8 (INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network)
Last Year’s Winners: Sting Ray Robb (Andretti Autosport, Race 1); Christian Rasmussen (Andretti Autosport, Race 2)
Last Year’s Pole Sitters: Sting Ray Robb (Andretti Autosport, Race 1); Christian Rasmussen (Andretti Autosport, Race 2)
Spotlight: The 2023 INDY NXT by Firestone champion will be crowned this weekend in the season-ending doubleheader, with Christian Rasmussen in the driver’s seat to become just the second driver to win season titles in INDY NXT by Firestone, USF Pro 2000 and USF2000, a feat first achieved by current NTT INDYCAR SERIES star Kyle Kirkwood in 2021.
HMD Motorsports with DCR driver Rasmussen leads Andretti Autosport’s Hunter McElrea by 65 points (445-380). Rasmussen must lead McElrea by 54 points or more after Race 1 on Saturday or keep any lead after Race 2 on Sunday, and the title is his.
Considering Rasmussen won Race 2 at this event last year from the pole, he should be in good shape. That victory came with Andretti Autosport, but Rasmussen also leads the official INDYCAR development series with four victories this season since an offseason move to HMD Motorsports with DCR.
Rasmussen also enters the picturesque Monterey Peninsula with momentum. He has won three of the last five races to seize control of the championship and a prize package designed to promote him to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES next season.
While Rasmussen is on the brink of a title, there’s still plenty to fight for this weekend. McElrea leads third-place Nolan Siegel (HMD Motorsports with DCR) by just five points (380-375), and Portland winner Louis Foster (Andretti Autosport) lurks in fourth, just 17 points behind McElrea (380-363). Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) also has a shot at finishing in second, as he is 29 points behind McElrea (380-351).
Notes & Nuggets:
- The INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey doubleheader will be the series’ 27th and 28th races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Previous INDY NXT by Firestone winners at Laguna Seca include Bryan Herta, Andre Ribeiro, Greg Moore, Tony Kanaan, Cristiano da Matta, Scott Dixon, Townsend Bell, Spencer Pigot, Rinus VeeKay and Kirkwood.
- Rasmussen leads the series in a host of categories: wins (four), laps led (240 of 475) and top-10 finishes (11) through 12 races.
- Rookie Jamie Chadwick (Andretti Autosport) will look to extend her season-leading streak of running at the finish for the last 12 consecutive races. Reece Gold (HMD Motorsports with DCR) is the only other driver with an active streak in double digits, as he has been running at the finish in the last 10 races in a row.
- Matteo Nannini, Gold, Siegel and Foster became first-time winners earlier this season. Will another talented prospect like Abel, James Roe, Kyffin Simpson or Ernie Francis Jr. score a first career INDY NXT by Firestone win to close the 2023 season? It happened last year, when Sting Ray Robb earned his first career victory in the series at this event.
- Abel Motorsports is growing from two to three cars at this season-ending doubleheader, with Italian Francesco Pizzi rejoining full-timer Jacob Abel and fellow part-timer Yuven Sundaramoorthy. Cape Motorsports also is expanding this weekend, back to a two-car entry with Brazilian Kiko Porto rejoining full-time driver Jagger Jones with the team.