With an impressive five wins already under their belt this season on both road and street courses in INDY NXT by Firestone, HMD Motorsports headed to The Hawkeye State to test their skills at Iowa Speedway for their first oval race of the year. The team’s outstanding performances on diverse tracks had raised expectations for the team as they began the second half of their 2023 season this past weekend. Once again joining together after the NTT INDYCAR SERIES raced solo in Toronto a few weeks prior, HMD Motorsports brought eight drivers in INDY NXT and supported David Malukas in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in his #18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD entry.
While INDY NXT and INDYCAR were the only two series racing at the 0.875-mile tri-oval, the three-day event was jam-packed as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES completed their first double-header weekend of the season, and all-star performances from Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, and Ed Sheeran filled in the gaps between on-track sessions.
Following practice on Friday, INDY NXT by Firestone had a quick turnaround with qualifying for the 75-lap race taking place just 2.5 hours later. Given two flying laps, the drivers’ average speed set the grid for Saturday’s race. While HMD just missed out on the pole position, Christian Rasmussen and Nolan Siegel led the team after claiming the second and third starting positions. Christian Bogle matched his best qualifying result with a seventh-place starting position. Rounding out the top-ten, Kyffin Simpson and Danial Frost qualified in eighth and ninth.
While the NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying was set to take place on Saturday morning ahead of the INDY NXT by Firestone race, a brief rain shower soaked the track surface and delayed the day’s events. Keeping broadcast windows in mind, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying session was moved to the INDY NXT by Firestone race window, while the INDY NXT race was delayed from late morning to early evening. In the NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying session, David Malukas had a massive wiggle on his first flying lap but still managed to qualify ninth for race one. In his second lap, Malukas went even faster to claim the third-place starting position for race two.
|Qualifying Results – INDY NXT by Firestone:|
|Qualifying Results – NTT INDYCAR SERIES, David Malukas:|
9 Race 1
3 Race 2
With the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race now leading INDY NXT by Firestone, the series took the green flag for the 250-lap Hy-Vee Homefront 250 race on Saturday afternoon. While David had a strong race pace, a missed strategy resulted in a 12th place finish for the sophomore driver.
As the sun began to set over the track on Saturday evening, the field of 16 INDY NXT by Firestone drivers took to the grid for their race. In the opening laps, HMD Motorsports drivers showed their skill as Rasmussen and Siegel held on to second and third place while Christian Bogle and Ernie Francis, Jr. moved up to sixth and ninth respectively. Only two laps later, Christian Rasmussen made his way around Jacob Abel for the lead. Following suit, Nolan Siegel then began to put the pressure on Abel before completing the pass for second. At the same time further back in the field, Kyffin Simpson and Danial Frost made contact and both drivers pulled into the pits for repairs. While Frost was able to quickly continue, Simpson suffered too much damage and was forced to retire from the race.
With a nearly ten-second lead over the rest of the field, Rasmussen began to catch lapped traffic only 19 laps into the 75-lap race. Once again battling with Abel, Siegel completed the pass again to settle into second. After holding on to sixth for the entirety of the race so far, Bogle fell back to eighth after a loss of momentum on the exit of turn four. With 16 laps to go, Nolan Siegel and Hunter McElrea made contact exiting turn two, resulting in Seigel spinning across the track. While he did not hit any walls and was able to continue into the pits, the track went yellow.
As INDYCAR Race Control reset the field, a miscommunication of procedures resulted in Bogle receiving two drive-through penalties. Going green with ten laps to go, Rasmussen had a strong start as he held onto the lead. In the final two laps, as Abel began to challenge for the win, Rasmussen was able to hold him off in the final corners to finish the race victorious. Running a stealth race, Josh Pierson was the biggest mover of the day, steadily making up eight positions to finish in sixth.
With the INDY NXT by Firestone weekend now complete, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES geared up for their second race of the weekend on Sunday afternoon. Starting from the inside of row two, Malukas challenged for the top spots in the opening stints of the race and remained steadily in the top-ten. After a brief caution period in the final race stint, the race went green for a four-lap shootout. Starting from tenth, Malukas made quick work to gain two positions and finished the race in eighth.
Shaking up the INDY NXT championship with the first oval race of the season, Christian Rasmussen regained the Championship lead over Nolan Siegel with a 30-point lead, while Reece Gold, Danial Frost, and Kyffin Simpson maintained their sixth, seventh, and ninth-place positions. With a strong top-ten finish, Ernie Francis, Jr. moved back up into the top-ten of the championship. Following a series of unfortunate results, two strong back-to-back finishes for David Malukas moved him up two positions into 17th in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship.
Both the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and INDY NXT by Firestone will return for more on-track action in two weeks’ time as they take on the challenging Music City Grand Prix in the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.
Photos: RTD Media