This weekend, the Road To Indy series will start their new year on the streets of St. Petersburg. The highest level before the Indycar series has rebranded itself for the new season. The Indy Lights series has become the Indy NXT and will use Firestone tires from this season onwards. In this preview, you'll get an overview of all teams and their drivers, the race schedule, points system and my championship predictions.


This year, the Indy NXT starting field is growing by several cars. Cape Motorsports & Juncos Hollinger Racing will be two new teams in 2023. In contrast to last year, TJ Speed Motorsports is no longer on the grid. Tim Neff and his crew will focus on USF Pro 2000 this season. A total of 19 drivers will tackle the new season. Among them are drivers who have already raced single-seaters in Europe, like reigning three-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick or reigning USF Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster. Many drivers were also active during winter, participating in Formula Regional Oceania or the 24 Hours of Daytona.


Andretti Autosport

Hunter McElrea, James Roe, Louis Foster, Jamie Chadwick


This year, the defending team champions will be competing with three new and one familiar face. Hunter McElrea already competed in his debut season with the team in 2022 and has already won two races, in Mid-Ohio and Iowa. The New Zealander is undoubtedly one of the hottest candidates for this year's title. One of his new teammates is James Roe. The Irishman is also entering his second Indy NXT season, but last year he was still competing with TJ Speed Motorsports. Two seventh places are his best results so far. His only race to win on the Road To Indy so far was the 2021 season finale of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Louis Foster, the current USF Pro 2000 champion, joins the Andretti team as well. The Briton already attracted attention in Europe, as a multiple race winner in the Ginetta Junior Championship, the British F4, the British Formula 3 and the Euroformula Open. He won the Indy Pro 2000 Championship last season with seven victories and twelve podiums. At the beginning of the year, he started in Formula Regional Oceania, where he immediately won his first race in New Zealand. The team is completed by Jamie Chadwick. The 24-year-old Brit mainly competed in the W Series in recent years, where she won eleven of a total of 21 races held and became champion in all three seasons. In 2015 she also won the British GT4 Championship and in 2018-19 the MRF Challenge Formula 2000. Now she wants to prove herself in the US with the top team Andretti Autosport.


HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing

Josh Green, Nolan Siegel, Christian Rasmussen, Christian Bogle, Rasmus Lindh, Danial Frost


HMD Motorsports is fielding by far the most cars this year with nine. Six of them will be competing in partnership with Dale Coyne Racing. After three years on the Road To Indy, Josh Green is contesting his Indy NXT debut season. With Turn 3, he won a race in both the 2021 USF 2000 and 2022 Indy Pro seasons. It will also be Nolan Siegel's first full season at the highest level before the IndyCar Series. Last year, the 18-year-old was still competing in Indy Pro 2000 with DEForce, where he won two races and finished on the podium six times. He finished the championship in fourth place. At the end of Januray he competed for the second time in the 24 Hours of Daytona, which he finished second in the LMP3 category driving a Ligier JS P320 for the Sean Creech Motorsports team. Five other HMD drivers also competed at Daytona. Among them was Christian Rasmussen, who is entering his second Indy NXT season. He still competed in his debut year with Andretti, scoring two wins and five podiums. In 2020, the Dane won the USF 2000 Championship and followed that up in 2021 by winning the Indy Pro 2000 Championship. At the 24 Hours of Daytona, he drove an Oreca 07 for the Era Motorsport team in the LMP2 class. Christian Bogle is already entering his third Indy NXT season. The 21-year-old raced with HMD last year and finished eleventh in the championship. Rasmus Lindh is back in the Indy NXT Series after a few races in 2021. This will be the first time the Swede will compete in the full season. In 2018, he finished behind Kyle Kirkwood Runner up in the USF 2000 and lost the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship to him by only two points. Last year he raced in IMSA Series LMP3, where he also competed in the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona, driving a Ligier JS P320 for the Andretti Autosport team. Unfortunately, the team retired early in the race. The sixth driver in the HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing team, Danial Frost, also competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona, where he competed in the LMP3 class with the GT Racing team and unfortunately was unable to finish the race. The Singaporean racer is entering his third Indy NXT year. His first and so far only victory came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in 2022. In 2020 he finished the Indy Pro 2000 Championship in third place.


HMD Motorsports

Josh Pierson, Kyffin Simpson


Two of the nine HMD cars will compete without working with a partner. One of those cars will be driven by Josh Pierson. In 2020 and 2021, he competed in the USF 2000 Championship, where he finished on the podium five times in his second year and finished the championship in fourth place. Last year, he competed with United Autosports in the LMP2 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship and finished third overall with his team. He competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona with TDS Racing in an Oreca 07 and finished fourth in LMP2. His teammate for this year is Kyffin Simpson. The Cayman-based American-Barbadian racing driver is entering his second Indy NXT season. Last year, the 18-year-old competed in eight races with TJ Speed Motorsports before moving to HMD for the remaining six and finished ninth in the championship. In 2021, he won the drivers' championship in Formula Regional Americas. At the 24 Hours of Daytona, he competed with the Tower Motorsports team in the LMP2 class and finished fifth.


HMD Motorsports with Force Indy

Ernie Francis Jr.


After making his Road To Indy debut with Force Indy last year, Ernie Francis Jr. will now start the new Indy NXT season with HMD Motorsports in partnership with Force Indy. The four-time Trans-Am Series - TA champion won three Formula Regional Americas races in 2021 and finished third in that championship. He finished the past Indy Lights season in tenth place.


Abel Motorsports

Jacob Abel, Colin Kaminsky


Abel Motorsports is also back on the grid this year. Alongside Jacob Abel, his teammate, Colin Kaminsky, is contesting his rookie season in the Indy NXT Series. The 23-year-old from Joliet, Illinois has been racing on the Road To Indy since 2017. In the 2019 USF 2000 season, he finished fourth in the championship standings with seven podiums. In Indy Pro 2000, he brought his total to six podiums in three years. Jacob Abel has already completed one year in Indy NXT. The Louisville, Kentucky racer finished eighth in the championship last year. Earlier this year, he competed in New Zealand in Formula Regional Oceania. Abel took four podiums with Kiwi Motorsport and finished third in the championship.


Juncos Hollinger Racing

Matteo Nannini, Reece Gold


After a year's absence, Juncos Hollinger Racing is back in the top tier on the Road To Indy. Two cars will compete in 2023. They will be piloted by Nannini and Gold. The Italian Matteo Nannini will be competing in the US for the first time. He last competed in Formula 2 and FIA F3 in 2021 and won the F4 UAE Championship in 2019 with seven race victories. His teammate is also competing in his first year in Indy NXT, but has four years of experience on the Road To Indy. Reece Gold finished third in the 2020 USF 2000 Championship and was runner up in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. He took seven wins in the last three years.


Cape Motorsports

Jagger Jones, Enaam Ahmed


Cape Motorsports is a second new team on the grid this year. Cape Motorsports has won 13 USF 2000 Championship titles in the last 20 years, including nine of the last 11 drivers' titles, making them a great addition to the Indy NXT Series. One of their two drivers is Jagger Jones. The 20-year-old from Scottsdale, Arizona was the 2019 vice champion in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and moved to the Road To Indy in the USF 2000 last year, finishing fourth in the championship with one race win and five podiums. His teammate for this season is also an Indy NXT rookie, though he already has several years under his belt in a variety of feeder series. Enaam Ahmed has raced in the British BRDC F3, Toyota Racing Series, FIA F3 European Championship, Euroformula Open, Japanese Formula 3, FIA Formula 3 and most recently Indy Pro 2000. In 2017, he won the British BRDC F3 and finished third in Japanese Formula 3 in 2019. Last year, the Pakistani finished on the podium five times with Juncos Hollinger Racing and ended up third in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship.


The race calendar has not changed too much compared to last season. The same number of races will take place on the same tracks as last year. The season opener will take place on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway will host the only two oval races. A doubleheader will be held at Detroit Street Circuit and at Laguna Seca Raceway, where the season finale takes place again.


Just last week it was announced that the planned doubleheader at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Road Course will be split into two weekends with one race each. One of the races from the May weekend will now be moved to August 11, where it will take place as part of NASCAR's Brickyard Weekend. The IndyCar Series will also be on track that weekend, running one day after its junior series. It is also the first time that the top classes of single-seater and stock car racing in America will share a race weekend, including the second highest class of the two series. The NASCAR Xfinity Series will also be on the grid on this August weekend.


Round 1: Streets of St. Petersburg (March 5)


Round 2: Barber Motorsports Park (April 30)


Round 3: Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Road Course (May 13)


Round 4/5: Detroit Street Circuit (June 3-4)


Round 6: Road America (June 18)


Round 7: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 2)


Round 8: Iowa Speedway (July 22)


Round 9: Nashville Street Circuit (August 6)


Round 10: Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Road Course (August 11)


Round 11: World Wide Technology Raceway (August 26)


Round 12: Portland International Raceway (September 3)


Round 13/14: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (September 9-10)


The Indy NXT is using the exact same points system as they use in Indycar. Unlike in USF Pro 2000 & USF 2000, the points for oval races are the same as on road courses.


The following points are awarded: P1 = 50, P2 = 40, P3 = 35, P4 = 32, P5 = 30, P6 = 28, P7 = 26, P8 = 24, P9 = 22, P10 = 20, P11 = 19, P12 = 18, P13 = 17, P14 = 16, P15 = 15, P16 = 14, P17 = 13, P18 = 12, P19 = 11, P20 = 10.


In addition, there are extra points to be won in each race. One point is awarded to every driver who leads at least one lap, the driver leading the most laps gets two points. And the driver who qualifies on pole position is awarded one additional point.


As I already did with some racing series last year, I dare to make a little prediction for this year's Indy NXT driver and team championships.


Drivers Championship Prediction


P1: Hunter McElrea

P2: Christian Rasmussen

P3: Louis Foster

P4: Rasmus Lindh

P5: Reece Gold

 My two main favorites for the drivers' title this year are Hunter McElrea from the Andretti team and Christian Rasmussen who will be competing with HMD and Dale Coyne. Personally, I expected a close duel between the two until the final weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway. I am also curious to see how the reigning USF Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster will perform. I think he will be able to adapt quickly to the new car and will be fighting for race wins together with Rasmussen, McElrea, Lindh and others from the middle of the season at the latest. Other strong rookies on the grid are Reece Gold, Josh Green, Nolan Siegel, Jamie Chadwick and more. It will be interesting to see who will prevail in the biggest Indy NXT starting field of the past decade. We are looking forward to an exciting season.


Teams Championship Prediction


P1: HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne

P2: Andretti Autosport

P3: Juncos Hollinger Racing


HMD Motorsports & Andretti Autosport have the strongest driver lineup again this year. The title in the team championship will probably be decided between these two teams again. Last season Andretti was just ahead. I believe that this year HMD will win the team championship by only a few points. Behind them, Juncos and Abel Motorsports will compete for third place, with the better end for Juncos Hollinger Racing.


The "new era" of Indy NXT is going to be exciting! The first race of the year will take place next Sunday.

written by Claudio Graf  / 28th February, 2023