Louis Foster converted pole position into a dominant victory at Portland, while opening lap chaos claimed Hunter McElrea, among others, leaving Christian Rasmussen with a 65-point lead with two races to go.
From his fourth pole of the season, Foster wasted no time in hitting the gas exiting Turn 12 to put some healthy distance between himself and Andretti Autosport teammate and fellow front-row starter McElrea at the drop of the green.
That left McElrea vulnerable to the second-row starters, points leader Rasmussen and HMD Motorsports teammate Kyffin Simpson. As they braked for tight Turn 1 chicane, fifth-place starter Reece Gold was knocked from behind by Victor Franzoni’s Juncos Hollinger Racing car. That sent Gold into Rasmussen, McElrea, and Simpson, and the ensuing chaos also ended the race for Jacob Abel and Josh Pierson. Rasmussen resumed by himself, but McElrea needed assistance and then headed for the pits for repairs.
The restart saw Foster leading eighth-place starter Danial Frost and Nolan Siegel who had both skipped through the mess unharmed, while behind them were Jagger Jones and Jamie Chadwick, up from 13th and 16th respectively. Rasmussen restarted ninth, and was up to sixth at the end of the first green-flag lap. He had floor damage, so was losing downforce, and he was being cautious, too, knowing that his only true title threat, McElrea, had been more seriously hobbled and was running four laps down.
Up front, Foster seemed easily able to edge away from Frost, pushing his margin to 3.5s by lap 15. At the same time, Frost was was 2s ahead of Siegel, who had 3.5s over the battle between Jones, Christian Bogle and Rasmussen.
There was stasis until seven laps to go when Bogle’s presence forced Jones to take a defensive line at the end of the back straight. Jones then moved slightly to the right before the left hander, and struck Bogle’s front wing, damaging it and sending his own car out of control and across the grass on corner exit. He limped to the pits with a deflated tire, while Bogle tried to struggle on and defend from Rasmussen.
Nearer the front, there was a cleaner looking battle, as Frost was 5.6s behind leader Foster, but less than 0.5s ahead of Siegel. At the start of the final lap, Frost swung right to protect the inside line into Turn 1, but Siegel kept on around the outside which gave him the inside for Turn 2 and second place duly changed hands.
Thus Foster claimed his second Indy NXT win almost 8s clear of Siegel and Frost.
Almost 17s back, Bogle had no problem holding off Rasmussen, while Chadwick’s sixth is her best result of the season.