We’ve been waiting for an Indy NXT driver to stake their claim on the championship, and with his fourth win of the season and third in a row, Christian Rasmussen is stepping up at the right time.
The 2020 USF2000 and 2021 Indy Pro 2000 champion has used his switch from Andretti Autosport’s NXT program to HMD Motorsports for his sophomore season to full effect, romping to commanding wins at Barber Motorsports Park, Iowa Speedway, the Nashville Grand Prix, and Saturday night at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Combined, the 23-year-old has tamed a natural-terrain road course, the shortest oval on the calendar, a street course and another short oval, which speaks to his exceptional talent. Factor in his two NXT wins from 2022 and the 11 times he’s stood on the podium since moving up to IndyCar’s top training category, and Rasmussen is doing all the things IndyCar team owners are looking for at this stage in his career.
“It’s super important to be a good all-around driver,” Rasmussen told RACER. “I think I really learned some good lessons last year running Indy NXT about how to really compete in the championship on this level. And we’re just doing super well this year.”
With HMD storming to last year’s NXT title with Linus Lundqvist, who was confirmed today as Chip Ganassi Racing’s newest IndyCar driver, Rasmussen’s decision to join the program — which entered 2023 with nine cars on the grid – has had a similarly transformative effect on his career.
“It just shows you how good of a package we’ve got,” he said. “We have so many cars in the team, which [had] some people thinking ahead of the season that that was going to be an issue. It really wasn’t. We have a lot of data, which helps us get up to speed super quick. And we’re just getting it done. It’s a team effort.
“I’d like to take some of the credit. I think I’m doing an all-right job out there. But without the proper package to do so, it’s very hard. Team effort.”
He’s got a 51-point lead over Andretti’s Hunter McElrea with three races to go, and while he can’t clinch the title this weekend in Portland, he does have the ability to make it all but impossible for McElrea to overtake him next week at the Laguna Seca NXT doubleheader finale if he has an excellent result in Oregon.
Rasmussen and the rest of the NXT field go green on Sunday at 1:15 pm ET on Peacock.