Nolan Siegel was fast on his NTT IndyCar Series testing debut with Dale Coyne Racing as the Indy NXT star was a fraction of a second behind race winner Christian Lundgaard but edged Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi on the way to posting the sixth-fastest lap on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Indy NXT driver was in Florida to race in the LMP2 class at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and with a visit to the track by Dale Coyne last weekend during the Roar Before The 24 test and a quick huddle between both parties, Siegel was slotted in to turn his first laps in an IndyCar on the final day of testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“It all came together late, but I’m really glad I got the opportunity to do it and learned a ton,” Siegel told RACER. “Everything ran smoothly all day and I got lots of experience. Overall, super happy.”
Siegel was busy in the No. 18 Honda, turning 89 laps for DCR on a day where he was just 0.202s off of third-place Linus Lundqvist in the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing entry. Although everything was new to Siegel, his pace and mature-beyond-his-years approach made him look nothing like a rookie.
“The car has a little bit more of everything than the NXT car; I’d say the power and the braking are the two biggest differences,” he said. “Obviously a lot more downforce as well, but the carbon brakes are a big adjustment. It took a little bit to figure everything out but I think the Indy NXT car and the whole series prepares you really well for IndyCar, so it wasn’t anything crazy or super overwhelming. By the end of the day, I felt I felt pretty comfortable and felt like I belonged in IndyCar, so it was good.”
As a rookie in NXT with HMD Motorsports, Siegel made an immediate impact by capturing two victories, five podiums, and third in the championship. Returning for his sophomore season with HMD, he’s an immediate title favorite, and while IndyCar isn’t part of his immediate plans, count on Siegel to be on his way to the big series in 2025.
“It’s exciting just something I’ve been waiting to do for a long time — a childhood dream — and I feel like everything I’ve done leading up to this has gotten me ready,” he said. “All of the all the basics still apply, so I just focused on doing everything that I know well and it all came together.”
Despite settling in and performing like a veteran, Siegel admits to being somewhat starstruck — as you’d expect — by seeing his name nestled among some of IndyCar best and most accomplished drivers.
“It’s really cool to look at a time sheet with Alexander Rossi and Scott McLaughlin and Roman Grosjean and all the big names there, and I never would have expected to be in the middle of that pack,” he said. “But again, the focus was not on a result or a lap time; the focus was just on doing the best that I could do and when I checked the time sheet at the end of the day, that’s where I was. It was a special moment and special to share the track with people that I’ve been watching for so many years.”