Top four start for ABEL Motorsports at Road America

Weather was the headline of the day at Road America, but ABEL Motorsports managed every hand Mother Nature dealt, with Jacob Abel leading the three-car team into Sunday’s INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix at Road America.

With a deluge midday Saturday delaying INDY NXT qualifying until after the NTT INDYCAR SERIES session, the ABEL Motorsports team had a decision to make: go with wet setups on the cars, or believe the radar and go with dry setups. In the end, they wisely chose the latter for Jacob Abel (Louisville, Ky.), Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Oconomowoc, Wis.), and Jordan Missig (Joliet, Ill.).

All three drivers pushed hard in the rapidly changing conditions, as Abel set the fourth-quickest time, with Sundaramoorthy 11th and Missig 15th.

The team went into Friday afternoon’s practice session with the plan to conserve tires, as only three sets of new Firestone tires were available for the weekend. Abel set the third-quickest time, with Missig 15th and Sundaramoorthy 21st, after experiencing a clutch issue and ending his session early after a brief off-track excursion.

With the track damp from light rain, Saturday morning’s practice saw the team starting on rain tires but then going to slicks in the changing conditions. The team quickly got up to speed, with Abel posting times in the top three while Missig and Sundaramoorthy continued to move forward, with all three drivers experimenting with new tires and staying with slicks despite very light rain. At the end of the session, Abel held P4, Sundaramoorthy 15th and Missig 17th.
Between practice and qualifying, the skies over Road America opened, soaking the racetrack and pushing INDY NXT qualifying until just after 4:00 p.m. When the first half of the field – including Abel – took to the track, the racing surface was still damp, but the field headed out on slick tires knowing the track would continue to dry. Abel was able to make the most of the improving conditions as his best time fell just two-tenths shy of the fastest time of the session.

Sundaramoorthy and Missig headed out in group two, both setting solid early times on the completely dry racetrack, until a red flag with eight minutes remaining sent the cars back to pit lane. The green flew once again with four minutes left, giving the pair just two timed laps. Both pushed to the limits and at the checkered flag, Sundaramoorthy was sixth in the group, with Missig eighth. Once the times were combined, Abel would start fourth on the grid, with Sundaramoorthy 11th and Missig 15th.

“It’s surprisingly dry by the end of the session but I still think it was much better for the second group,” said Abel. “But overall, I think it was pretty good, the car was good. I think there was a little bit left in my driving, just placing everything together a bit in the tricky track conditions. Obviously, we want to be in front but we know we are going to have a really, really fast race car so I’m looking forward to that. We were really, really strong here in the race last year and moved forward a bunch, so we know how to do that.”

“After I lost the first practice, I just needed laps, and the red flag didn’t really give me that,” said Sundaramoorthy, who was born in nearby Oconomowoc and graduated last year from Wisconsin. “I really had my first real couple attempts at pushing the car in qualifying and just obviously way under-drove it. I still need a lot of speed, but we can work forward from eleventh.”

“That was all about getting temperature in the tires and getting the pressures up,” said Missig. “We could have used a few more laps obviously to help us out a little bit, but you know it’s two groups, so we just were a little bit faster in our group. It could have moved us up the order, but I just needed to find a little bit more out of the car. The ABEL guys did a fantastic job putting the car together and everything. Conditions were optimal, we just missed it.”

Missig doing the double

For Missig, the INDY NXT sessions comprised less than half of his on-track time at Road America. He is also running in the Radical Cup North America series this weekend, competing for the full season with Radical USA Indianapolis, owned by NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Graham Rahal. With two 30-minute practice sessions, qualifying, and two races before INDY NXT qualifying, Missig has been on track in every different weather condition – albeit in two very different cars.

“It’s been a very interesting changeover,” said Missig. “It’s been fun going back and forth but admittedly, it’s been difficult as well. The radical sports car is a low-horsepower, very lightweight car, then we jump into the high horsepower, much heavier car in the INDY NXT car. So we’re dealing with two driving concepts. Understanding the different concepts and learning the best way to transition from car to car – and doing it efficiently – is probably the biggest thing I’m working on right now.

“But it definitely helps regarding track time, since the INDY NXT series gets only the two 45-minute practice sessions,” Missig continued. “I only have one race weekend in the series, and all the weather changes that we’ve been thrown have made it a little bit more difficult, but in the going back and forth, I’ve been on track in every different condition – and I think that’s helped, given the wide range of conditions we’ve dealt with this weekend.”

Missig finished 10th and eighth in the first two Radical Cup North America races on the weekend.

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 Grand Prix at Road America takes the green flag Sunday at 1:05 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