Taking to the 14-turn course of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this Fourth of July weekend, HMD Motorsports brought eight drivers to compete in the seventh round of the INDY NXT by Firestone Championship. On a winning streak over the past three races, HMD Motorsports was eager to carry their momentum into Ohio.
With eight of the 17 drivers in the field for the weekend, HMD Motorsports took up half of the top-ten positions in both opening practice sessions with Christian Rasmussen and Kyffin Simpson each leading the team in a session. In qualifying, Rasmussen earned his second pole position of the year. With the grid set for Sunday morning’s INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio, Simpson was set to start directly behind Rasmussen in row two with Reece Gold and Nolan Siegel taking up the third row. Christian Bogle had his strongest qualifying of the season with a tenth place starting position. After finishing 11th and eighth in the two practice sessions, Frost suffered from a mechanical failure in the opening laps of qualifying and was forced to start from the rear of the field.
While many of this year’s INDY NXT by Firestone drivers have raced on the 2.258-mile circuit either in INDY NXT or other feeder series, the start of this year’s race was new for all drivers as the series adopted the NTT INDYCAR SERIES starting procedures and took the green flag exiting off of turn three. As the 35-lap race began, Danial Frost had made quick work to get around Ernie Francis Jr. and James Roe, but heading into turn four, Danial was hit from behind and spun off course. While he was able to continue, he was again sent to the back of the field. Over the next two laps, drivers throughout the 17-car field scrambled for position as they went two wide throughout. As drivers began to settle into position, Christian Bogle spun off course in turn four and brought out the first caution of the race on lap six. At the restart on lap ten, Nolan Siegel, Josh Pierson, and Ernie Francis, Jr. had each gained one position while Danial Frost had again gained two.
Through the middle third of the race, drivers settled into their positions as they set up to finish the race strong. With nine laps to go, after holding the lead through the entirety of the race, Christian Rasmussen was passed for the lead while Kyffin Simpson and a fellow competitor closed in as all four drivers ran nose to tail. Two laps later, another caution was brought out as Nolan Siegel went off into the grass. Restarting with four laps to go, Simpson and Rasmussen went side-by-side as Simpson took the inside line to take over second. Further back, Josh Pierson made quick work to gain an additional two positions after already gaining two earlier in the race while Danial Frost followed him to gain a total of six positions. Crossing the finish line, HMD Motorsports finished second and third with Kyffin Simpson earning his best INDY NXT by Firestone result followed by Christian Rasmussen.
2 Simpson (+1)
While Nolan Siegel had his worst finish of the year, he was able to maintain a 16-point lead in the Championship over fellow HMD Motorsports driver, Christian Rasmussen. Reese Gold gained one position in the Championship for sixth while Danial Frost fell back into seventh. With a strong second-place finish, Kyffin Simpson moved up four positions in the standings and into ninth.
With the first half of the season officially complete, INDY NXT by Firestone will return alongside the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in three weeks for the first oval race of the season at Iowa Speedway, July 21-22. In the meantime, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will head north of the border in two weeks for the Honda Indy Toronto.
Photos: RTD Media