Double The Fun: INDY NXT Drama Unfolds in IMS Twinbill

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INDY NXT by Firestone at IMS

The first of two INDY NXT by Firestone doubleheaders this season takes place this Friday and Saturday with the Indianapolis Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Race 1 starts at 6:15 p.m. ET Friday on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit, with the second race at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network will provide live coverage of both.

SEE: Race Details

Can anyone among the 21-driver field, the largest for INDYCAR’s development series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2007, sweep this weekend’s twinbill?

If a driver breaks the broom out of the closet for a weekend sweep of both 35-lap races, it could be a little dusty. The only time since the weekend doubleheader format was introduced at IMS in 2014 that a driver swept both races here was Colton Herta in 2018.

Last year was the first time the series didn’t race twice in the same weekend on the IMS road course, as the series made a return trip in August to join the INDYCAR-NASCAR Brickyard Weekend. That event isn’t happening this year as NASCAR is returning to the oval, so these are the only events this season at IMS for INDY NXT.

Let’s look at a few storylines.

Nolan Siegel vs. Jacob Abel

Jacob Abel and Nolan Siegel have the makings of turning this 14-race INDY NXT by Firestone season into a heavyweight title bout. They enter this weekend tied in points (94-94), with each scoring a victory. Siegel won from the pole at St. Petersburg, and Abel triumphed from the pole at Barber Motorsports Park. Both led every lap in their respective wins.

Siegel has 13 IMS road course starts: eight in USF2000 competition, three in Indy Pro 2000 and two in INDY NXT by Firestone. In nine of the 13, he has finished outside the top 10, including a 13th-place result last May and 12th last August.

Abel has nine starts on the IMS circuit, with eight top-10 finishes. He was ninth and fourth in the pair of races last year and eighth and fifth in the May 2022 doubleheader.

“I feel really good about things,” Abel said. “I think St. Pete went really well. Barber went well. Just going to kind of try to keep riding the wave as much as we can and see what we can do here at Indy.”

Foster Keeping Championship Hopes Alive

Louis Foster kept his INDY NXT by Firestone championship hopes alive by charging from 21st at the start of the last race at Barber Motorsports Park to finish fifth in his No. 27 Andretti Global entry. Foster’s fight to the front erased a potential deficit that could have been insurmountable with how well Siegel and Abel are running this season.

Can Foster capitalize this weekend?

“I think we've got the pace, obviously,” Foster said. “There's no reason why we can't go ahead and win this weekend.

“Jacob had a win at Barber. Talking about momentum, I would say our race at Barber, started at 21st, finished fifth, I think a lot of drivers can start on pole and win a race, but I think not a lot of drivers can start 21st and finish fifth. So, I think we've got good momentum from that.

“I'm looking forward to the weekend. It's two races. It's a track that Andretti has been strong at. I've got five other cars now with me who we can all look at each other's data and see where we're strong, where we're not.

“I'm looking forward to it. I think it will be a good weekend, and just head down and try and utilize the pace that we have.”

Foster has been stout on the IMS road course with an Indy Pro 2000 victory in 2022 and a runner-up in INDY NXT by Firestone competition last May.

Andretti Global finished 1-2-3-4 in the first race of the May doubleheader in 2022. While HMD Motorsports’ Linus Lundqvist won the second leg of the doubleheader that year, Andretti Global placed two of the three cars on the podium a day later.

Andretti Global’s Hunter McElrea won the summer race last year.

Roe Racing for Fighting Irish

In a partnership that champions community at home in Indiana and abroad, the University of Notre Dame has collaborated with Irish driver James Roe on a uniquely themed helmet for the two INDY NXT by Firestone events this weekend.

Hailing from Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland and driving the No. 29 Topcon entry from Andretti Global, Roe will wear a racing helmet designed to mirror the iconic gold helmets of the Fighting Irish football team – a classic touchstone of the university. To ensure authenticity, the racing helmet was carefully produced using a painting process identical to that used for the football helmets.

Following the race weekend, Roe and the Notre Dame helmet will be featured at other university events, including a helmet swap at a Fighting Irish football game this fall.

Roe comes to Indianapolis fresh off a third-place finish in the last event on April 28 at Barber Motorsports Park. That’s one spot shy of his career-best result of second last August on the IMS road course.

First-Time Winner?

The first race of the INDY NXT by Firestone May doubleheader on the IMS road course has produced a first-time winner in three of the last four tries. Andretti Global’s Robert Megennis started the trend in 2019, followed by Danial Frost of HMD in 2022 and Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Matteo Nannini last year.

Does anyone follow suit Friday?

Among the 21 drivers competing this weekend, just Siegel, Abel, Foster and Reece Gold have reached victory lane in an INDY NXT by Firestone race.

Track Specs: 2.439-mile, 14-turn natural road course

Qualifying Record: Ed Jones 1:14.6743, 117.583 mph, May 13, 2016

Push To Pass Parameters: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation.