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Indy NXT Nashville: Rasmussen holds off McElrea to win drama-filled race

Christian Rasmussen won the Indy NXT race on the streets of Nashville from pole position, to further extended his championship lead, but it was all action behind him.

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After qualifying was rained out at the 2.1-mile temporary street course, the field was set by championship order, but it was dry and sunny in time for Sunday morning’s race.

After an initially aborted start, Rasmussen led Nolan Siegel (who crashed heavily on the sole practice session) to the green flag on the Korean War Veterans Bridge, ahead of Jacob Abel, Hunter McElrea, Louis Foster, Danial Frost, Reece Gold and James Roe (who also shunted in practice).

McElrea passed Abel for third at the first corner, with Gold also getting the better of Frost for sixth on the opening tour. McElrea then passed Siegel, the latter tumbling down to fifth, losing further spots to Abel and Foster.

As all that happened behind him, Rasmussen scampered away to a 3.5s lead over McElrea.

Frost repassed Gold for sixth on lap six, while Ernie Francis Jr demoted Roe on the same tour for eighth.

Although he fell well behind leader Rasmussen, McElrea pulled clear of the battling Abel and Foster. Francis made further progress when he passed a struggling Gold for seventh on lap 10, and Gold subsequently lost further spots to Roe, Kyffin Simpson, Matty Brabham and Rasmus Lindh.

Foster passed Abel with a wild move as they briefly collided twice on the high-speed approach to Turn 4. Foster immediately set the fastest lap of the race, as he set about closing the 3.4s gap to McElrea.

At half distance, Rasmussen extended his lead to 4.5s but a full-course caution negated all his hard work when Christian Bogle got into the Turn 11 wall. Moments earlier, Brabham tumbled down the order after a move on Simpson at Turn 4 turned sour, but he managed to keep it out of the tirewall but rejoined in 16th.

Rasmussen retained his lead at the restart and immediately gapped McElrea by a second. Francis continued his progress by passing Frost for sixth at Turn 4, opening the door for Roe to pass him too, and chased down Siegel.

McElrea and Foster kept Rasmussen in their sights as the race went yellow again with 11 laps remaining as Francis’s brilliant charge ended when he clipped the apex wall at Turn 4, sending him hard into the outside barrier.

The race restarted with eight laps to go, with McElrea exerting immediate pressure on Rasmussen. Abel passed Foster for third after punting him up the rear on corner entry at Turn 11. Behind them, Frost and Lindh got together at Turn 4, with Frost getting fired into the barrier causing another caution.

That set up a four-lap sprint to the finish, with Foster clipping Abel and taking to the Turn 1 run-off, dropping to 11th. Abel was handed a blocking penalty, but the one-position he was ordered to give up meant that it was Siegel who benefited.

Abel gave up the spot at Turn 9 but smartly grabbed the position back at the following corner to ensure he finished on the podium.

Rasmussen held off McElrea’s challenge to win his third race of the season, with title rival Siegel only placing fifth after Roe passed him on the final lap. Foster charged back to finish sixth, passing Lindh late on. Jamie Chadwick was eighth, ahead of Gold and Josh Pierson.

After the race, Foster pulled alongside to make an angry hand gesture to Abel, who responded by cheekily waving back.

Cla Driver  Entrant   Laps   Time   Gap 
6 C.Rasmussen HMD Motorsports 35 55'11.9696  
27 Hunter McElrea Andretti Autosport 35 55'13.1290 1.1594
51 Jacob Abel Abel Motorsports 35 55'22.6221 10.6525
29 James Roe Andretti Autosport 35 55'24.2702 12.3006
39 Nolan Siegel HMD Motorsports 35 55'24.5445 12.5749
26 Louis Foster Andretti Autosport 35 55'24.6875 12.7179
76 Rasmus Lindh Juncos Hollinger Racing 35 55'25.1205 13.1509
28 Jamie Chadwick Andretti Autosport 35 55'26.3169 14.3473
10 Reece Gold HMD Motorsports 35 55'27.3395 15.3699
10  14 Josh Pierson HMD Motorsports 35 55'27.6216 15.6520
11  57 Y.Sundaramoorthy Abel Motorsports 35 55'28.4357 16.4661
12  7 Christian Bogle HMD Motorsports 35 55'30.1721 18.2025
13  47 Matthew Brabham Cape Motorsports 35 55'31.8299 19.8603
14  75 Victor Franzoni Juncos Hollinger Racing 35 55'32.3431 20.3735
15  21 Kyffin Simpson HMD Motorsports 32 51'12.8568  
16  68 Danial Frost HMD Motorsports 28 43'54.2717  
17  98 Jagger Jones Cape Motorsports 27 42'32.2749  
18  99 E.Francis Jr. HMD Motorsports 24 36'24.1725  
19  55 Francesco Pizzi Abel Motorsports 22 55'32.8480

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Previous article Indy NXT Iowa: Rasmussen beats Abel by 0.1227s, Siegel spins out
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