In the opening round of the 2023 season this past weekend at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, HMD Motorsports proved they are back and as strong as ever in their third season in the INDYCAR paddock. With nine entries in INDY NXT by Firestone and David Malukas competing for Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, HMD brought home one win, two podiums and eight top-ten results from the Streets of St. Petersburg.
In the INDY NXT paddock, HMD Motorsports filled out nine of the nineteen entries. With nearly half of the field, HMD Motorsports was collecting over double the amount of data and driver feedback than any other team in the series. In the opening practice session, HMD came out strong finishing the session with drivers in the second through seventh positions, led by series rookie Nolan Siegel. In the second and final practice, Siegel once again led the team finishing with the fastest time in the session, followed by four other HMD teammates in the top-ten. For qualifying, HMD fell back slightly, but still completed qualifying with drivers filling out the third through seventh positions.
INDY NXT by Firestone Qualifying Results:
3. Christian Rasmussen
4. Rasmus Lindh
5. Kyffin Simpson
6. Nolan Siegel
7. Danial Frost
10. Josh Green
15. Josh Pierson
17. Ernie Francis, Jr.
19. Christian Bogle
With the largest INDY NXT field since 2009, a field comprised of over 50% rookie drivers and taking to the tight turns of a street circuit, the race on Sunday afternoon saw a fair amount of caution laps. In the opening lap, contact between multiple drivers resulted in a three-lap caution, however, all nine HMD Motorsports drivers stayed out of harm’s way. After a restart, the race continued for the next twenty laps without incident as drivers jockeyed for position.
Just past the half-way point, Josh Pierson locked up while entering turn ten, hit the tire barrier, and retired from the race. At the restart, HMD Motorsports held on to the third through seventh positions, while the remaining three drivers filled out the mid-field. After the driver running in second hit the wall in turn three, HMD drivers were able to advance forward and into better podium contention. Following the brief caution, the leader went wide into turn one trying to defend a hard charging Siegel, sliding wide and making room for Nolan and Danial Frost to take over the two lead positions, while Christian Rasmussen followed in fourth. Going into turn four, teammates Josh Green and Kyffin Simpson, along with a third driver, attempted to go three-wide and all ended up in the tires. Green and Simpson were able to restart and continue the lead lap. With time running out, the race switched over to a timed race and restarted with two minutes remaining. On the restart, Frost went around the outside of Siegel in turn two to take over the lead and never look back. With one lap remaining, Frost began to pull away while Siegel, Jacob Abel, and Rasmussen fought for the final two steps on the podium. Racing nose to tail until the end, Danial Frost claimed the first victory of the season followed by Nolan Siegel in the second position. Christian Rasmussen ended up fourth followed by Ernie Francis, Jr. in sixth, Josh Green in seventh, Rasmus Lindh in ninth, Kyffin Simpson in tenth, and Christian Bogle in twelfth.
In the opening weekend of the season, Danial Frost claimed his second career win after gaining six positions, Nolan Siegel finished on the podium for the first time and Ernie Francis, Jr. earned his career-best finish after picking up eleven positions. As the team continued to move forward through the field, HMD drivers gained a total of 31 positions. While many other teams struggled on the 14-turn street circuit, eight of the nine HMD Motorsports drivers finished the race on the lead lap and seven finished inside the top-ten.
INDY NXT by Firestone Race Results:
1. Danial Frost
2. Nolan Siegel
4. Christian Rasmussen
6. Ernie Francis, Jr.
7. Josh Green
9. Rasmus Lindh
10. Kyffin Simpson
12. Christian Bogle
DNF. Josh Pierson
In his second season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, David Malukas picked up where he left off last season, finishing the two practice sessions in seventh and eleventh. Going into qualifying, the team missed the set-up and David qualified his #18 Honda in the 16th position. The opening round of the 2023 season consisted of many on-track incidents that resulted in many long caution periods. While Malukas received damage to his front wing in the opening lap incident, he was able to continue in the race. Later, after his front wing made contact with the right-rear tire of another competitor, Malukas was given a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact and was sent to the back of the field. Not ready to give up, Malukas continued to push forward. At the end of the 100-lap race, Malukas came back from a broken front wing and a penalty to earn his first top-ten of the season.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will continue in four weeks for the first oval race of the season at Texas Motor Speedway. INDY NXT by Firestone will rejoin the calendar later in April at Barber Motorsports Park.
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Photos: RTD Media