ABEL Motorsports captures first INDY NXT victory at Barber

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ABEL Motorsports captures first INDY NXT victory at Barber

Jacob Abel shares the championship lead as teammates Josh Mason and Yuven Sundaramoorthy battle hard on a difficult day

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (28 April 2024) – “Finally” was the word of the day for ABEL Motorsports, as driver Jacob Abel scored his first INDY NXT by Firestone victory Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, in the second race of his third season in the series.

“Finally is right,” said Abel. “I had a few close calls last year so it was nice to finally get it done – and getting it done this early is really important for the championship.”

Abel dominated the weekend, leading every session – two practice sessions and qualifying. The wire-to-wire victory ties the Louisville, Ky. native with Nolan Siegel for the championship lead.

But for teammates Josh Mason (Maresfield, UK) and Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Oconomowoc, Wis.), the day was a bit less straightforward. Mason battled traffic and balance issues as Sundaramoorthy dealt with an early shifting issue that required several resets. Mason finished 16th and Sundaramoorthy 21st.

Abel started the race from pole position, with Mason 13th and Sundaramoorthy 16th. The first of 35 laps ran under caution to get the field into better alignment but when the green flag flew, Abel put the power down and posted a solid lead over Siegel into turn one. Mason and Sundaramoorthy took advantage of the lap one shuffling, each moving up two positions.

But on lap five, Sundaramoorthy reported a shifting issue, stopping on course to reset systems before resuming the fight. On the restart after the resulting caution, Abel got a solid jump on Siegel, but Siegel tried to make a move on lap nine, pulling alongside Abel in turn 5. Abel not only held him off, he broke away to increase his lead to nearly a second. Mason, however, made a small mistake in that same turn and fell to 17th, while Sundaramoorthy headed to pit lane for another reset and a new steering wheel, as the team explored every possible avenue to fix the issue.

By mid-race, Abel’s runway to his first win was all about laying down the laps and staying consistent, as he kept Siegel at least a half second behind as he managed the race pace as well as his push-to-pass on his way to taking took his first checkered flag in the top spot.

“That was super, super special,” said Abel. “I’m so proud of the entire ABEL Motorsports team, they’ve worked really, really hard for this – for the past three years but really, for my entire career. The core team has been with me the whole time and I’m so thankful to get them this first INDY NXT win.

“It was a good battle with Nolan. I’ve had a lot of battles with him the past couple of years – there are a bunch of drivers in the field that I trust racing that close with, though of course, you can’t say that about everyone in the field. We gave each other room, so it was fun. I’d been running a bit of an alternate line through turn 5 so when he tried the over/under, I was pretty happy because I could just go back to my regular line. After that, I just kept my head down and worked on building that gap to the end, and that’s what I did.”

For team principal Bill Abel, the pride was obviously two-fold: as a team principal knowing the validity that comes with race wins, and as a proud father, who saw all the years of work come to fruition – for his son, and his eponymous team.

“I’m super proud of the job the entire team did – not just today, but this entire season so far,” said Abel. “We tested here in November, with good results (note: Abel set the quick time in the test), and we just hoped we didn’t lose that in these four months. We haven’t been great here in the past but Jacob was confident, and the team was confident. We did it in qualifying and we did it in the race, and that lets everyone know that we’re serious about what we’re doing – we’re a race winning team and we hope to be a championship winning team.”

For teammates Mason and Sundaramoorthy, post-race meant the chance to look back on the positive takeaways, and ahead to the upcoming Mid-Ohio test – and an important doubleheader at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“The aborted start was a bit of an issue, with all the packing up in the back,” said Mason. “It was quite messy in the back. We made up a few places on the start but I made that mistake that cost me a few positions. I struggled with balance from there, and I tried everything I could in the car to make it better, but nothing was really going my way. But at the end of the day, we finished the race and got some more valuable seat time. Looking forward to next week’s Mid-Ohio test and the race at Indy.”

“The shifting issue was unfortunate for the team,” said Sundaramoorthy. “But I still needed to find some pace, I have some more work to do on my end. I think we could have moved up a few spots but we need more pace to match Jacob – though I know the car is capable of that. We have a test at Mid-Ohio next week and we’ll come back stronger at Indy.”

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

Next up for ABEL Motorsports and the INDY NXT by Firestone will be the Indianapolis Grand Prix doubleheader at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,May 10 and 11. The races 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.