Foster Gets Jump by Pacing First Practice at St. Petersburg

Louis Foster is back where he feels he belongs, atop the field in the INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The Andretti Global driver who won the pole for last year’s season-opening race of the INDY NXT by Firestone season turned the quickest lap on Day 1 of this season, too. Friday, Foster’s lap of 1 minute, 5.7384 seconds in the No. 26 Copart/Novara Technologies entry was more than four-tenths of a second quicker than series newcomer and Andretti Cape INDY NXT driver Michael d’Orlando.

SEE: Practice Results

Foster’s pole time last year on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit was 1:05.1103. This weekend’s qualifying session is at 1:05 p.m. ET Saturday (INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network).

The 45-lap race is Sunday at 10 a.m. (Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network).

Last year, Foster won two races and four poles, and he said Friday’s effort shows his season is off to a proper start.

“We were fast here last year; we had pole,” the 20-year-old Englishman said. “We just wanted to continue where we (left) off, really. That’s where we expected to be, where I wanted to be.

“So, we’ll just keep pushing and trying to stay (on top).”

Foster finished fourth in last year’s series standings, one spot behind Nolan Siegel, the 19-year-old product of Palo Alto, California, who returns to the series with HMD Motorsports.

D’Orlando, a 22-year-old native of Hartsdale, New York, was the last driver to be confirmed to this 21-car field, and he debuted in strong fashion in the No. 3 Andretti Cape INDY NXT entry. His fastest lap was 1:06.1681. Last year, he won four races and six poles in finishing fourth in the USF Pro 2000 Championship standings.

HMD Motorsports is fielding 10 cars in this event, and the fastest of those – third overall – was Caio Collet, a 21-year-old Brazilian. His best lap of the session was 1:06.2604.

INDY NXT by Firestone veterans Jamie Chadwick of Andretti Global (No. 28 VEXT) and Jacob Abel of Abel Motorsports (No. 51 Abel Construction) were fourth and fifth, respectively, at 1:06.4073 and 1:06.4207. Abel, a 22-year-old native of Louisville, Kentucky, had the fastest lap of last year’s first practice in St. Petersburg, and he led a race-high 27 laps before finishing third.

The weekend’s field includes 13 series rookies. Among the notables is Myles Rowe, the 23-year-old driver who won last year’s USF Pro 2000 title with five race wins. Driving the No. 99 HMD Motorsports with Force Indy entry, the native of Powder Springs, Georgia, was ninth on Friday’s speed chart at 1:06.6646.

The second practice of the weekend is Saturday at 8:25 a.m. ET (INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network).

IndyCar PR