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Jacob Abel relishes maiden IndyCar test with Dale Coyne Racing

Jacob Abel made the most of his first-ever opportunity to test IndyCar machinery with Dale Coyne Racing on Monday at Sebring International Raceway.

Jacob Abel

Jacob Abel

Joe Skibinski

The 22-year-old Kentucky native drove the family-owned #51 entry to four podiums and one pole en route to fifth in the 2023 Indy NXT championship standings and finally received a late call-up to pound laps around Sebring’s 1.7-mile short course.

Equipped with five sets of tires and race engineer Alex Athanasiadis on the timing stand, Abel set off for roughly 130 laps in the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, with a quick lap of 52.27s.

“It was really good,” Abel told Autosport. “I think that everyone was happy and it went well and we were able to put down some really competitive times there at the end.

“At the end of the day, the main goal of everything was just to learn and progress. With track time being so limited nowadays, it's always good to get in the car, especially in IndyCar; they test very, very limited. So yeah, it was a very successful day, and a lot was learned.”

Despite it being his first time on track in the car, the transition was fairly straightforward for Abel.

“The car is fantastic,” Abel said. “It just does everything way better. It shifts super smooth. It handles bumps very well with the shocks being open. You know, it leaves room for a lot of development, which means these things are pretty good. In a place like Sebring that definitely helps. Obviously, a bit more power.

“The Indy NXT car prepares really, really well for it. I mean, it was nothing out of the ordinary at all. I got up to speed very quickly and didn't really feel out of my comfort zone at all. If anything, it was a bit easier to drive than the Indy NXT car even. Overall, really good and it makes me excited for the future and hungry to chase whatever opportunities are there.”

Jacob Abel, Abel motorsport

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Jacob Abel, Abel motorsport

Plans for 2024 are expected to be revealed “in the next month or so” but believes a return for another year of Indy NXT with Abel Motorsports is the most likely outcome, which would put him in the conversation as a championship contender.

The chance to test with Coyne provided Abel with an opportunity to gauge himself, but also prepare him in case a future opportunity arises.

“There was a number of reasons for it,” Abel said. “You know, I think we're probably going to end up in Indy NXT next year again, but that's not 100% sure yet. I've done two years in that series and this opportunity kind of arose because IndyCar teams get an extra test they get to use on Indy NXT drivers. Dale had that. So, it was a benefit to them to test me and it was a benefit to me as well. I learned a ton. But yeah, it was just to kind of get a taste of things really and see how I was, and things went quite well.

If anything, the outing provided even more desire to graduate to the IndyCar Series in the near future.

“My thing is it opens more doors because maybe there's another test up the road or something,” Abel continued. “Now, I've driven an IndyCar before and I know what to expect or maybe a last-minute seat comes open for a race or something like that, or for the 500 even.

“Obviously, you need to do the orientation phase with all of that, but now at least if that were to be a thing -- which I think is definitely a long shot -- the first time I'll have driven an IndyCar won't be at the Indianapolis Motors Speedway. So, it's checked a ton of boxes.

“It's motivation for me to push harder to reach this series full-time one day.”

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