ABEL Motorsports captures race win and championship lead at Indy

Jacob Abel and ABEL Motorsports scored the race one victory from pole, taking the championship lead on a crucial INDY NXT by Firestone doubleheader at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.

The race did not fare as well for teammates Yuven Sundaramoorthy and Jordan Missig, who both saw solid runs go for naught with late race incidents.

Sharing the weekend with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ Sonsio Grand Prix, the INDY NXT series began the two-day event with a full slate of action – practice, qualifying and race one on Friday. Abel (Louisville, Ky.), Sundaramoorthy (Oconomowoc, Wis.) and Missig (Joliet, Ill.) had just the lone practice session to come up to speed before qualifying. All three drivers focused on finding balance and grip, and at the end of practice, Abel held the fifth quickest time, with Missig 16th and Sundaramoorthy 17th – and the top 15 separated by a mere second.

When qualifying was done early in the afternoon, Sundaramoorthy was set to start P15 and Missig P16 in race one – and on the heels of two flyers to start the session, Abel earned pole positions in both Friday’s race one and Saturday’s race two.

“I didn’t feel as though I was driving my best this morning and the car needed a bit of work as well, so I just focused on how to make the car better through that session,” said Abel in the race winning press conference. “The team worked hard between sessions to put me into a position to feel good going into qualifying, and obviously they did a great job of that. The car was so strong, but we know that it’s a lot harder to win from pole here than it is at Barber.”

Abel led the field to the race one green, getting a good jump and avoiding the slingshot draft from behind. While Missig was forced to check up through Turn 2 as cars slowed dramatically ahead, Sundaramoorthy saw an advantage, punching the pedal and taking 10th position. A quick spin in turn 7 put Missig back into 20th, as the field settled in behind Abel.

Sundaramoorthy continued to advance, making solid passes and claiming P6 by lap 10 while Missig rebounded as well, into P15. At the front of the field, Abel had broken out to a five-second lead over co-championship leader Nolan Siegel, just focusing forward and managing tires.

Out of push-to-pass mid-race, Sundaramoorthy fell back to 7th, then was freight trained into turn 1. Adding to his misery was a clip by another car that sent him onto the Turn 8 grass and into pit lane with a punctured front left. He went back out on track in 25th, just behind Missig, but spun and landed in the gravel, bringing out a caution flag.

Abel took the restart with nine laps remaining, powering onto the front stretch and again breaking the draft to Siegel and holding his advantage. But two laps later, Missig made contact with the turn 7 wall, bringing out another yellow.

Abel managed the restart perfectly with just three laps remaining and while Siegel briefly pulled alongside in turn 1, Abel held his ground, taking the race win and the championship lead. Missig came home 18th and Sundaramoorthy 20th.

“This was awesome,” said Abel. “We’ve always just kind of struggled at this track, which is unfortunate because we race here a lot, but in the past, it wasn’t really a good track for us so to get this win today is really special. That it felt like a long race, just managing tires the whole time so I could be ready if there was a restart. Unfortunately, the first yellow took away the four-second lead that I had – and was just taking a nice sunset cruise on! But it was still good at the end, though Nolan made me work for it there a little bit. Props to him for driving me clean and we will see how tomorrow goes.”

“There was some calamity in the first corner on the start and that set me back,” said Missig. “Once I got into a good rhythm and my pace was good, I just focused on saving push-to-pass and worked on getting closer and closer. But once we all started kind of getting into traffic and everyone started fighting with us, drivers were kind of just parking at the apex and that caught me out a bit. That’s when the incident happened. But the ABEL Motorsports group put a great car together. We had such great pace, especially on the long runs. I gained a lot of experience today and now we are looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully being able to make some more passes and get towards the front.”

“It was a good start – I got lucky and was really moving forward,” said Sundaramoorthy. “I was hoping I could stay at their pace but just didn’t quite have it. I burned up my push-to-pass and was a sitting duck after that. I’m just really glad that the caution I brought out didn’t hurt Jacob’s race, that would have sucked. Hopefully better tomorrow.”

Veteran team manager John Brunner has won numerous races at the Speedway but knows that the Victory Lane experience never gets old.

“It is the coolest thing – you come here so many times and you think you’d get used to it, but you never get used to winning here,” said Brunner. “We really didn’t need those yellows, and unfortunately, we caused them ourselves as a team. But Jacob had control from the beginning so we thought we would be fine on restarts, since we were saving tires and push-to-pass. We were pretty confident.”

ABEL Motorsports thanks partners ABEL Construction Company, Advance Ready Mix, Boyd Cat®, S Team Motorsports and OMP for their continued support.

The second race in the INDY NXT by Firestone Indianapolis Grand Prix takes the green flag Saturday at 1:00 p.m. ET. The race will be streamed live in the U.S. on Peacock, while international viewers can watch via INDYCARLIVE, with INDYCAR Radio available at indycar.com and on Sirius XM.

Abel Motorsports PR