ABEL Motorsports debuts BlueOval SK tribute colors at Detroit

INDY NXT by Firestone points leader Jacob Abel scored his fifth straight front row start on Saturday, while teammate Yuven Sundaramoorthy earned his season’s best starting position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Detroit on the streets of the Motor City.

This weekend, Abel carries a color scheme on his No. 51 Dallara that represents the new BlueOval SK pair of facilities: a six square mile auto production complex in Tennessee and a pair of plants in Kentucky that will manufacture the next generation of electric vehicle batteries. The BlueOval SK Battery Park in Glendale, Ky., ABEL Construction Company’s largest project to date, will create 5,000 new jobs when it reaches capacity.

Drivers Jacob Abel (Louisville, Ky.) and Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Oconomowoc, Wis.) came into the weekend determined to post top finishes in the INDY NXT series’ 500th race. Teams had a total of 90 minutes of practice time between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning sessions to dial in the pair of Dallaras. With Abel and Sundaramoorthy each working on finding the balance between speed and consistency on the bumpy streets of Detroit, their combined practice times put them in fourth and 18th, respectively.

With the series splitting the 21-car field into two groups for qualifying, Abel started in group one – which turned out to be the unfavorable draw, as the IMSA sports car warm up had deposited a different kind of rubber on the racetrack just before the session. Undeterred, Abel immediately went to the top of the time sheets, holding P1 as the field decreased their times with each lap. But with six minutes remaining, a car in the turn 1 tires brought out a red flag. The session went green again with just enough time for Abel to post one timed lap but not enough time to get the tires up to temperature, as he took the checkered flag in P1 by half a second over James Roe, guaranteed a front row start.

“Our car was strong from the start of the weekend,” said Abel. “There was way more in it – being in the first group with the IMSA rubber down put us behind, so we knew it was going to be tough to get pole. Then the red flag made it pretty much impossible. But we’ll definitely take the front row start, especially given how tough the circuit is. It’s tight, and traffic is always a problem, but we were able to put it together in qualifying, we were just in the wrong group. We know how tricky turn 1 is here so we’ll watch the starts from last year to see what the best course of action might be.”

In group two, Sundaramoorthy was determined to move up the timing sheet, pushing hard early – hard enough to glance off both the turn 6 and turn 7 walls, bending the toe links and setting the steering wheel askew. But Sundaramoorthy refused to relent, continuing the charge and posting a lap just over a tenth back of Abel’s before a late red stopped the action. With only one timed lap possible when the green came back out – and knowing from the previous session that the tires would not come up to temperature – Sundaramoorthy returned to pit lane to conserve his tires, having put himself into a season-high ninth place on the grid.

“I guess I would have been P2 in the first session!” said Sundaramoorthy. “I messed up on lap two and hit the wall, I think we had much more in it, but I got a decent lap and worked on bringing it home. Both toes were off, but I still think we could have gone faster. A long race tomorrow to make some moves.”

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

The INDY NXT by Firestone Detroit Grand Prix takes the green flag Sunday, June 2 at 10:20 a.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