INDIANAPOLIS — Matteo Nannini came to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week needing a boost after a tough start to the season.
Consider that wish granted.
Rookie Nannini earned his first Indy NXT by Firestone pole position Friday for the Indy NXT by Firestone Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Nannini, from Italy, finished 15th in both of the first two races of the season in the No. 76 Juncos Hollinger Racing car.
Nannini’s top lap was 1 minute, 15.3194 seconds in the eight-minute session on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.
His previous best start this season was ninth at the season opener in March at St. Petersburg. It also was the first Indy NXT by Firestone pole for the JHR team since current NTT IndyCar Series standout Rinus VeeKay swept both poles for the season-ending doubleheader in September 2019 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“We really needed the result as a team,” Nannini said. “We didn’t start the championship in the best way possible. So, definitely starting in Indy with P1 is really satisfying. I’m really happy for the team, really happy for myself and the group that is supporting me. In this series, qualifying is important. When you start in the middle of the pack, the possibility to have a crash is much higher.
“Now we make sure that we can finish the job tomorrow.”
Hunter McElrea will join Nannini on the front row after qualifying second at 1:15.4467 in the No. 27 Smart Motors car fielded by Andretti Autosport. Rookie Louis Foster helped to put two Andretti Autpsport cars in the top three of qualifying, as he will start third in the No. 26 Copart/USF Pro Championship car after a best lap of 1:15.5070.
Kyffin Simpson, who led morning practice, qualified fourth at 1:15.5334 in the No. 21 HMD Motorsports with CGR machine.
Josh Green was the third rookie in the top five, ending up fifth at 1:15.6517 in the No. 3 HMD Motorsports with DCR car.
Series championship leader Christian Rasmussen qualified sixth at 1:15.6814 in the No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR machine.