Louis Foster led an Andretti Autosport sweep of the front row for the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Portland during qualifying Saturday at Portland International Raceway, earning his series-leading fourth pole of the season.
Foster, a rookie from England, set a track record with a best lap of 1 minute, 2.6302 seconds in the No. 26 Copart/USF Pro Championship car. He broke the previous record of 1:02.8074 set by current NTT INDYCAR SERIES star Pato O’Ward in qualifying in 2018.
SEE: Qualifying Results
“We waited a bit longer than the others,” Foster said of managing traffic. “Everyone else got a lap more than me or two laps, I think, maybe. We made it work. Andretti gave me an amazing car.
“It was quite difficult. I was struggling throughout the session. I made a few mistakes but managed to just put in one lap at the end that was good enough. We’ll take it."
Teammate Hunter McElrea will join Foster on the front row for the 35-lap race Sunday (1:10 p.m. ET, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network) after his best lap of 1:02.7924 in the No. 27 Smart Motors car.
Championship leader Christian Rasmussen qualified third at 1:02.9115 in the No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR machine. Rasmussen, who has won three of the last four races, leads McElrea by 50 points in the standings with three races remaining.
Rasmussen can’t clinch the title this weekend, but he can go a long way toward getting his hands on the championship trophy during the season-ending doubleheader Sept. 9-10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“When you’re not pole, it’s never good enough,” Rasmussen said. “But I think that’s what we had today. Figuring out the traffic out there was a little bit of an issue. P3 is OK. We were right there.
“With the gap that I have, I don’t have to win every race for the rest of the season. So, I’m just kind of focusing on getting the most out of it.”
Kyffin Simpson will join Rasmussen in Row 2 after qualifying fourth at 1:03.0048 in the No. 21 HMD Motorsports with CGR car.
Reece Gold qualified fifth at 1:03.0057 in the No. 10 HMD Motorsports with DCR car. Victor Franzoni fills out Row 3 after qualifying sixth at 1:03.2201 in the No. 75 Juncos Hollinger Racing machine.