ABEL Motorsports readies three-pronged attack for INDY NXT opener

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ABEL Motorsports readies three-pronged attack for INDY NXT opener

Abel and Sundaramoorthy have 17 St. Pete races between them, while Mason will race on the famed street circuit for the first time

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (6 March 2024) – ABEL Motorsports will look to get a fast start to the 2024 INDY NXT by Firestone season with a strong three car entry this weekend. The series will open the championship with the traditional visit to scenic St. Petersburg, Fla. as part of the season-opening NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg event.

With a productive winter of testing, preparation, and development now in the rear view mirror, the ABEL Motorsports transporters are packed for the trip south as a bumper roster of teams and drivers comprise one of the most competitive INDY NXT fields in recent memory.

ABEL will arrive at the sea-side track armed with three talented racers as Jacob Abel (Louisville, Ky.), Josh Mason (Maresfield, UK), and Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Oconomowoc, Wis.) look to get a strong start to the 14-round INDY NXT championship.

Mason will make his series debut this weekend, but both Abel and Sundaramoorthy have lengthy histories on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street circuit: Abel has raced at St. Pete eight times through his junior formula career, earning a podium in INDY NXT last year, while Sundaramoorthy has competed on the street circuit nine times in the USF Pro Championships.

“We have continued to build as a team through the off-season, and we are eager to get down to St. Pete and get things rolling,” said team owner Bill Abel. “We know that this championship gets more and more competitive every year and it continues to be an outstanding place to develop these young drivers. Our driver line up gives us a great deal of confidence and our team has been relentless in preparing for the season, so hopefully we can make a solid start to the year this weekend and build momentum through the season.”

With a stout, 20-car grid and new qualifying procedures, all three drivers relish the upcoming challenges.

Abel, who turns 23 on Saturday, returns for his third season in the series with significant momentum and confidence gained through the off-season testing – which included a successful first Indy car test with Dale Coyne Racing. He finished fifth in the series points chase last year, just 18 points out of third, with four podium finishes – including a third-place finish at St. Pete after leading 27 of the race’s 40 laps.

Also of note, his four podiums encompassed all three of the different types of circuit the series races on (street circuit, road course, and oval). Abel takes the wheel of the newest Dallara IL-15 on the grid, with the car brand new for last October’s Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We’ve been really strong in testing – and really, since the second half of last year – and it’s very promising for the start of the season,” said Abel. “We rolled out of the trailer fast last year, with a car that was easy to drive. My driving style lends itself to getting up to speed and onto the limit quickly, but with a measured approach at a place that’s as unforgiving as St. Pete.

“Obviously, our goal this year is to go for the championship, but the way to contend for a championship is to not really think about the championship – you have to take the car you’re given, not trying to over-extract anything or push too hard,” said Abel. “It’s my third year in the series so the priority is to get my first series race win. We had a ton of success last year, but we couldn’t convert that – it would be awesome to do that at St. Pete, after leading 27 of 40 laps last year. It was my first podium but for a while, it looked like it could be my first win and I’d like to check that off.”

Both Abel and Mason raced in the Castrol Toyota FR Oceania series in New Zealand earlier this year, and Abel believes the 15-race series gives him a leg up in terms of race readiness at the season opener.

“Last year, the only two drivers in INDY NXT who had raced in New Zealand were Louis Foster and me – and we were on the front row,” said Abel. “So I think it helps to be race ready at St. Pete – I did 15 races in five weeks in January and February, and I hope that helps again this year.”

Sundaramoorthy, 21, made four series starts with ABEL Motorsports last year and looks to build on his promising outings as he is set to race at St. Pete in front of family and friends.

“I’ve gotten plenty of laps in testing, though fewer quality laps because of weather,” said Sundaramoorthy, noting the rain that shortened test time at both Laguna Seca and Sebring. “But all in all, it’s gone well – and with Jacob’s obvious pace, it bodes well for the season. There are plenty of challenges ahead, with a huge grid and the new qualifying schedule but I’m looking forward to getting into the flow of the season. On the street circuits, it’s all about trusting the car and trusting yourself, and limiting mistakes. Hopefully the grip comes up quickly! I’m looking forward to the weekend, I love the area. We have family that lives nearby and it’s a great venue and atmosphere.”

Mason, 22, turns his focus to the U.S. this season after four years on the European junior open wheel circuits. Last year, he earned a win and three podiums in six Euroformula Open events and contested eight races on the FIA Formula 3 Championship. Having spent a day in the team’s Speedway shop, and a morning on the Dallara simulator, Mason has been doing everything he can to arrive as prepared as possible for his North American debut.

“My excitement level is very high right now,” said Mason. “It’s going to be a very cool experience to race in America and I appreciate how welcoming everyone at ABEL Motorsports has been. It’s a completely different culture to Europe: and everyone I’ve met has been very helpful, happy to answer my questions. It sounds as though everyone gets on in the paddock – though of course, on track it’s a different story! I have raced on a street circuit before (at Pau in 2022) and I’ve driven similar cars, so I’ll go on that instinct – I’m sure I’ll adapt quickly when it comes time to put it in first gear and pull away from pit lane on Friday morning.”

At stake for all 20 INDY NXT drivers is the series “scholarship” program, designed to aid the champion’s transition into the 2025 NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Once again, the series champion will receive $850,000 toward an oval test at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 Open Test and Rookie Orientation Program, an entry for the 2025 Indianapolis 500 and an entry for an additional 2025 NTT INDYCAR SERIES event. The 2024 championship team will again receive a prize of $35,000.

All 14 INDY NXT races will be available in the United States via Peacock. INDYCAR Live will carry the broadcasts for international viewers in countries not covered by international agreements. INDYCAR Radio Network will provide coverage of all races via SiriusXM (channel 218) and the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.

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

The season opener takes the green flag Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. The race will be streamed live in the U.S. on Peacock, while international viewers can watch via INDYCARLIVE.com with INDYCAR Radio available at indycar.com/radio and on Sirius XM.