18-year-old Kyffin Simpson scored a season-best third place finish on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last weekend, rounding out his most successful INDY NXT by Firestone event to date with a stellar race performance.
Bouncing back from a disappointing Barber Motorsports Park result, the Caymanian emerged as a serious contender for silverware at INDYCAR’s home venue with front-running pace in all three INDY NXT sessions, powering his HMD Motorsports’ #21 Ridgeline Lubricants / American Legion machine to the fastest time in official practice.
The young Chip Ganassi Racing development driver continued his fine form in Friday afternoon’s qualification session, placing fourth overall despite a less than perfect run through the eight-minute timed window.
Rain threatened to challenge the 18-car INDY NXT grid to a wet race on Saturday morning, but ultimately held off to provide a dry lights-to-flag thriller where tire management was the defining factor in success.
After two false starts, the field took the green flag and Simpson immediately capitalised on a slow start from Hunter McElrea to challenge for third into turn one. HMD Motorsports teammate Rasmussen found the inside into turn two, relegating Simpson back to fourth as the field settled in for 35 laps around the 2.4 mile Indy road course.
Seven laps into the race, Kyffin chose the 90° left-hander of turn seven to launch an attack on third – a move that turned out to be one of the highlights of the season. With Simpson closing in his mirrors, Rasmussen opted to defend on the inside into the braking zone. Simpson chose the outside lane in response, braking late and turning in decisively to wrestle third place from his teammate.
Within 10 laps, Kyffin had extended the gap back to Rasmussen by over three seconds as he set about chasing down the leading pair of Nannini and Foster. Ultimately this gap proved too much to overcome in the closing stages of the race, but Simpson brought home a convincing podium finish nonetheless.
Looking back on a strong weekend in Indy, Kyffin said:
I’m so happy to get my first INDY NXT podium. I managed to avoid the trouble around me at the start and settle in pretty quickly. Racing so closely with Christian [Rasmussen] was fun – I think we were both hard but fair and gave each other plenty of room.
After that I just got my head down and tried to close the gap to the leaders. I don’t think we quite had the pace to match but it was a convincing third anyway, we were well clear of the field. The team did a great job making changes after qualifying which I think paid off; huge props to Alex and the guys.
I’m thankful to God for this opportunity, and everyone – family, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends – for their support this weekend, along with my partners Ridgeline Lubricants, The American Legion and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing for their guidance.
Also, it was great to hang out with the #10 American Legion crew on the box for the INDYCAR race. Congrats to Alex Palou and the whole team for an awesome victory.
Bring on Detroit!
INDY NXT returns on June 3-4 for the Detroit Grand Prix – the first double-header round of the 2023 season. Kyffin will remain in Indianapolis through the month of May, integrated with the Chip Ganassi Racing team as they chase a historic sixth win in the 107th Indy 500.
Fans can follow Kyffin’s progress via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Kyffin is supported by Ridgeline Lubricants, The American Legion, Visit Cayman Islands, Boddens Legal, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, Simpson Race Products and Kokoro Media.