McElrea chasing IndyCar opportunities

Hunter McElrea’s chances of chasing down and overhauling Indy NXT championship leader Christian Rasmussen were dashed on the opening lap of last weekend’s Portland race when he and many others were taken out at Turn 1.

“I’d need miracles at this point to win [the title], so it’s just me trying to end the year as strong as possible with my Andretti Autosport crew and build off of this for my future,” the 23-year-old told RACER. “I was ahead of Christian at Portland and doing what I needed to do, but a bunch of us were wiped out into the chicane, so there’s nothing we can do about it. What’s done is done.

“But we’re still second in the points and we’ll keep fighting to the end. Before Portland, we were on the podium three straight times and got a win, so that’s where I’m aiming in Laguna Seca.”


Despite the misfortune, the New Zealander has placed his full focus on landing some form of IndyCar opportunity next year and has been busy meeting with a sizable portion of the paddock to discuss his options for 2024.

“I feel really good about the work we’ve done now in two years of NXT,” McElrea said. “We raced hard against [2022 NXT champion] Linus Lundqvist last year and got a couple of wins, and I think people have been impressed by him and what he’s been able to do for himself with getting hired by Chip Ganassi, so that gives me a lot of hope.

“Unfortunately, my family doesn’t come from money so I’m not capable of bringing a huge budget to a team, but I do have some amazing supporters and investors who’ve taken me this far in NXT and that’s what I’m working on for next year, to keep building support to get to IndyCar.”

McElrea is taking a unique approach to IndyCar ride hunting which, he hopes, will pay off in the coming months.

“I’d love for someone to hire me to become a full-time IndyCar driver, but I don’t know if that’s realistic right away,” he said. “I’m talking with a lot of teams about doing tests just to get my foot in the door. And I’ve been honest with them about what kind of support I think I can bring, which isn’t enough for a complete year, but I’d rather do a partial season — however many races — with a good team than take whatever we can find. I know I’m ready for IndyCar, so I’m putting my energy into making it happen the right way and seeing where it takes me.”

Story originally appeared on Racer