Abel savors breakthrough Indy NXT win at Barber

The kid nicknamed “Finger Lickin’ Fast,” the pride of Louisville, Kentucky, won his first Indy NXT race at Barber last weekend. Jubilation abounded in victory lane for Jabob Abel, team manager John Brunner, and for Abel’s parents.

His dad Bill was, as we’ve come to expect, awash in tears as his son finally delivered the breakthrough drive they believed lived within him. Pole, dominance, and the win for the young Butler University student could be just the achievement he needs to unlock more of those performances to secure a championship in his final season of NXT.

Moreover, the win was an important one for Abel Motorsports as it became the first Indy Lights/NXT team other than Andretti Global, HMD Motorsports, or Juncos Hollinger Racing to win since 2019, when Belardi Auto Racing — the outfit formerly led by Brunner — upset the establishment.

The team’s breakthrough could also shift the power dynamics in the series if 23-year-old Abel, rookie teammate Yuven Sundaramoorthy, and newcomers Josh Mason and Taylor Ferns can keep giving the veteran programs a hard time.

“We knew that our team had the capability, especially when you look at John Brunner and the folks from Belardi and everybody that he’s brought over. We knew that was in our DNA,” Bill Abel told RACER. “We won in Indy Pro 2000, we won in other levels, but finally for Jacob to have the win and for the team to have to win at this level is a little bit of validation for where we’re at. It sends a message to other drivers out there that we’re a good team, a good solid team, and we can put a car on the top step of the podium.”

Abel was understandably proud to see his son beat the best in NXT and ascend to lead the championship in a tie with HMD’s Nolan Siegel.

“This weekend was a result of many years of hard work Jacob and the whole team,” he said. “He’s put so much in to get here this year and basically gave up a potential ride in the Indy 500 to focus on NXT. He definitely earned it and was kept honest the whole time. It was not a gift. It was a hard-fought win. That’s a pretty good message to us.”

Story originally appeared on Racer