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Collet breaks Mid-Ohio NXT track record with first career pole

Caio Collet is poised for a breakthrough weekend in Indy NXT by Firestone at the Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio on Saturday after earning his first career pole with a track-record lap.

Brazilian rookie Collet took the top spot with a lap of 1m10.2879s in the No. 18 HMD Motorsports car. That lap on the repaved, 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course easily scaled the Indy NXT track record of 1m10.8079a set by Oliver Askew in July 2019.

Collet’s previous-best start was second, four times this season. He will aim for his first career win in the IndyCar development series in the 35-lap race on Sunday (11:15am ET, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network). It could be a safe bet, as the Brazilian has led both practices and won the pole this weekend.

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“I was a little nervous at the beginning of this session,” Collet said. “I’ve had a really good car since Friday, and I knew if I put together a lap, we would be up there.

“In the beginning, I just struggled a little bit. I think I was overpushing a bit. I took a step back and down and did a lap. Big thanks to HMD. The car has been on fire since Friday.”

Championship leader Louis Foster, who has won four of the last five races, qualified second at 1:10.3072 in the No. 26 Copart/Novara Technologies car of Andretti Global.

Jacob Abel, second in points, qualified third at 1m10.3890s in the No. 51 Abel Construction machine fielded by Abel Motorsports. Rookie Callum Hedge will join him on the second row after qualifying fourth at 1m10.6302s in the No. 17 HMD Motorsports entry.

Reece Gold qualified fifth at 1m10.4608s in the No. 10 HMD Motorsports car. Christian Brooks continued the strong start to his INDY NXT by Firestone career by qualifying sixth at 1m10.6760s for just his third career race in the No. 39 HMD Motorsports entry.

The smooth pavement and ideal weather helped times to plummet at Mid-Ohio. The top nine qualifiers each dipped under Askew’s track record.

Collet, third in the standings, knows a breakthrough win Sunday will do more than boost his resume. It also would close the gap to Foster and Abel. Collet trails leader Foster by 84 points and Abel by 49 with six races to go.

“Louis has been quite quick,” Collet said. “We know that he’s quite strong. But I think this weekend, we’ve been a little step ahead. Let’s see if we can win the race. I’m really looking forward. We have such a great car.”

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Story originally appeared on Racer