Reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion Louis Foster stunned the Indy NXT paddock with a sensational pole position for the season opener in Florida.
The 19-year-old from Hampshire in the UK is starting his second season racing in America, and returning to where he raced for the first time in the US at sunny St Petersburg.
Foster made sure his name will be placed among the series favourites in the future with his performance.
After two practice sessions sussing out his new car and tyres, Foster went into qualifying where there’s just eight minutes and often only one lap where conditions are ideal to set a fastest time.
“The pole was really positive,” said Foster, who is backed by Copart, a global leader in online auto auctions.
“I felt like we had the pace to fight up the front, top three or top five was really the goal. To put it on pole on my debut was amazing.
"The team did a fantastic job, Andretti Autosport has been fantastic. I really can’t thank them enough for putting us in this position.”
Foster got a great start to the race but a caution neutralised the field and on the restart on lap eight, Foster was a sitting duck leading the field into Turn 1 where he was overtaken by Jacob Abel.
Foster bided his time and saved his tyres as Abel shot off to a strong lead, but Foster had soon reeled him back in to fight for the win.
Unfortunately another caution neutralised the field and Foster struggled to get his car stopped heading into Turn 1, and on the same lap he nudged the wall and had to pit for repairs. He fought back to finish 14th.
Despite the race not ending as it had started, there were plenty of positives for Foster who proved he belongs at the front and fighting for the title, and that he has settled in well at Andretti Autosport.
“I’m pleased with how the adaptation has gone,” Foster added.
“It's a really good team, it’s been easy to settle in, intelligent engineers and people, I couldn’t ask for a better team around me and it’s exciting for the remainder of the season.”
Speaking of the remainder of the season, Foster and Indy NXT head to Barber on April 30, and have a test at Indianapolis road course to get prepared.
“Barber is going to be a tricky one, historically Andretti’s rival HMD has been strong there,” said Foster.
“It will be an uphill battle, and we have some stuff to work on with the car, but I’m looking forward to the IMS test in between as well to try and figure out some more things about the tyres and learn more about the car and do a better job, especially in the race.
“Now we have a bit of a gap so it’s time to start training harder than ever.”