Thursday, September 14, 2023

INDY NXT: Another Chaotic First Lap at Portland!

Where Mayhem’s Always Ah-Waitin’ racers at Ye Festival Curves…


Although I tend to only follow whatever for Mwah will be affectionately known as Indy Lights casually. Since I find it’s current Nom de Plume Indy NXT moniker to be El supidio! I do try “Tuning IN” upon occasion whenever the races are at a reasonable time upon the IndyCar Radio Network.


Having taken a month’s “Sabbatical” from Ye All conquering Intrawoods’, nee internet; which Y’all are probably getting tired of hearing about, Eh? Naturally I missed a ton of news regarding Indy NXT and the plethora ‘O Driver changes occurring…


Totally “Missed the Memo” that Juncos Hollinger Racing (JHR) had terminated the contract of Matteo Nannini with immediate effect upon July 18th. For which I can find no reason for, other than He obviously did something the team didn’t like!


Rejoining the Indy NXT competition for it’s Gateway round, it’s final Oval race at WWTR. I noticed that Thar were only 15 cars competing and Cape Motorsports was absent, Huh? Apparently due to a lack of funding, since presumably “Pay Driver” Enaam Ahmed ran out of Dinero’, leaving the team in a temporary lurch…


Whilst noting the return of former IndyCar and Indy Lights competitor Matty B’, aka Matthew Brabham to the field. As the Australian born, and Dual Citizenship (USA) racer has had quite a busy season “Deputizing” for both Cape Motorsports and JHR, filling the latter’s two entries.


As I was unaware that Matthew had former history with the Cape Brothers. Having won the 2012 USF2000 Championship ahead of another former IndyCar driver named Spencer Pigot when driving for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylore Racing…


Whilst I won’t even attempt trying to list All of the copius Driver changes this season, since I got exhausted just listening to my Screen Reader “Zoey the Princess Warrior!” reading them to me, Youza!


As I’ve forgotten what I believe was IndyCar Radio Pitlane reporter Ryan Marin’s exact comments during the Sunday morning Indy NXT race about various connections to Portland…


With Ryan noting that Brabham, Jones, Roe and Pierson All had ties to the Rose City and IndyCar.


As Matty B’s father Geoff Brabham was a longtime IndyCar competitor, including making ten starts in the Indianapolis 500. Although arguably, Geoff’s best known for being a Four-times IMSA GTP champion in those dominating Elactramotive Nissan GTP ZX-turbo (ZX-T) IMSA GTP Prototypes! Not to mention having won some race called the 24 Heurs du Mans.


Whilst Jagger Jones last name is synonymous with Indy Cars. Being the Grandson of some ‘Ol Codger known as rufus Parnelli Jones, who just turned 90yrs old on August 12th.


Josh Pierson, who’s an IndyCar Development Driver for Ed Carpenter Racing, (ECR) was contesting His maiden Indy NXT race at His Home track. Hailing from Portland, Oregon.


But Pierson’s race went about as well as His partial rookie Indy NXT campaign has. Being one of the eight cars, nearly Half the field that ran into each other on the opening lap at Portland’s notorious Turn-1 Festival Curve! With Pierson finishing a lowly P17 and last! And was 15th in the Championship prior to the Laguna Seca Double Header season finale.


But the piece of Portland IndyCar trivia that most caught my Attenzione was the James Roe connection, since I already knew of the other three drivers times. As I thought I heard Ryan Marin saying that Roe’s uncle had previously raced there in an IndyCar, Huh?


Turns out that James Roe, Jr. is the nephew of Michael roe, who indeed contested four CART/PPG IndyCar World Series races for Hemelgarn Racing in 1985. With ironically His best result occurring at Portland International Raceway when finishing seventh. Although having failed to qualify for that year’s Indy 500.


As Michael roe had won the previous year’s SCCA Can Am Championship by Blitzing the field with seven wins in ten races. Along wit making a Clean Sweep of Pole positions, when capturing All ten. Both being Can Am records!


Like it’s Big Brother IndyCar, the NXT Championship points fight was kept somewhat interesting by the two main title protagonists Christian Rasmussen and Hunter McElrea. Although Rasmussen held a comfortable 50-point lead over McElrea entering Portland.


As mentioned above, nearly Half of the field was involved in the first lap’s Turn-1 Fracas in the Festival Curves chicane! Although I think perhaps Thar were multiple incidents? The main crash involved a six car pileup! Including the likes of Pierson, Kyffin Simpson, McElrea and Rasmussen, who’d started third…


As I know IndyCar Radio’s Driver Analyst Davey Hamilton went ballistic when apparently Race Control was initially going to assess Reece Gold with a Drive-thru penalty for Avoidable contact. With Hamilton saying they’d better check the videotape, since clearly it was victor Franzoni’s Fault for causing the Turn-1 melee! Which Race Control corrected afterwards.


Points leader Rasmussen effectively pulled a “Dixon” by surviving the carnage and resuming in ninth place, while McElrea wasn’t so fortunate, sustaining damage to His racecar. As McElrea went two laps down and finished 13th. While Rasmussen marched up to sixth and spent the remainder of the race there. Until Jagger Jones made a late race mistake with the Dane’ finishing fifth. Seeing Rasmussen take a commanding 65-point lead into Laguna Seca’s season ending Double Header weekend.


Rookie Lous foster, McElrea’s Andretti Autosport teammate led wire-to-wire, All 35-lapsin what became a fairly Anti-climatic race after the first lap fracas was cleaned up…