Louis Foster

Twenty INDY NXT by Firestone drivers prepared for the series’ Milwaukee 100 on Aug. 31 by testing June 12 at the historic Milwaukee Mile.

It was an important Open Test since this is the INDYCAR development series’ first return to the 1-mile oval in Milwaukee since 2015.

No Surprises Out Front

It came as little surprise when the final time sheets of the day showed Louis Foster and Jacob Abel on top. Abel is the championship leader, 19 points ahead of second place Foster. The two drivers have combined to win four of the six races this season, with each taking two checkered flag.

Foster was fastest at 149.525 mph in the No. 26 Copart/Novara Technologies car fielded by Andretti Global, followed by Abel at 149.338 in the No. 51 Abel Construction car of Abel Motorsports. They were the only two drivers to exceed 149 mph.

“Learning the track,” Foster said. “I don’t think anyone here has driven this track, so we’re all learning. This oval is like 2 degrees banking. It’s really fun because the car’s loose.”

No Margin for Error

It doesn’t matter whether you’re the championship leader or a driver preparing to make their series debut – there’s no margin for error on an oval, as this test proved.

Abel crashed in Turn 2 in No. 51 Abel Construction entry during the afternoon, while rookie teammate Taylor Ferns also hit the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier in the No. 55 ABEL Motorsports car about 90 minutes before Abel. Neither driver was hurt, and both returned to turn more laps.

USAC short-track standout Ferns will compete with Abel in the four oval events this season, at Iowa Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway, Milwaukee and Nashville Superspeedway.

What’s He Doing Here?

A strange but familiar name showed up fourth on the time sheets Tuesday afternoon – Christian Rasmussen.

2023 INDY NXT by Firestone champion Rasmussen, a rookie with Ed Carpenter Racing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, returned to HMD Motorsports to help the team develop setups for the No. 39 car that has been driven this season by Nolan Siegel and Kiko Porto.

Siegel skipped the last INDY NXT race, June 9 at Road America, after he was summoned by Juncos Hollinger Racing to substitute that weekend for Agustin Canapino in its No. 78 Chevrolet in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. It was announced late afternoon June 12 that Canapino will return to the car for the rest of the season starting June 23 at the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

It made perfect sense for Rasmussen to help HMD, the team with which he won the title last season. He won both oval races last year in INDY NXT, at Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway.

Rasmussen posted a top lap of 148.927 in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports entry.

Lots of Laps

The race distance for the Milwaukee 100 on Aug. 31 is 100 laps. That will feel like a short stroll for most of the drivers in this test, who easily exceeded that lap total Wednesday.

Twenty drivers combined to turn 2,788 laps on the 1-mile oval, an average of nearly 140 laps per driver. Nolan Allaer was the only driver not to complete at least 100 miles of testing, turning 95 laps in the No. 11 HMD Motorsports car.

Wisconsin native Yuven Sundaramoorthy was the busiest driver, turning 179 laps in the No. 22 S Team Motorsports/Abel Motorsports car. Five other drivers eclipsed the 150-lap total, more than 1.5 times the race distance.