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Abel “would have loved” to run Indy 500 with family team

Written by Archie O’Reilly


Indy NXT driver Jacob Abel has admitted he “would have loved” to run the Indianapolis 500 with Abel Motorsports this month but understands why they had to pull the plug on an effort for 2024.


“My interest levels were as high as they probably could have ever been.” said Abel, who won his maiden Indy NXT for his family team at Barber Motorsports Park a fortnight ago. “I think if any driver told you other than that, they’d be lying. I would have loved to run the race. Obviously it’s our dream when we're working up through the junior level series.” 


The team made their IndyCar debut in the Indy 500 last year, successfully qualifying for the race with RC Enerson. Their day ended early with a mechanical issue but, having missed the April open test, simply getting into the field without having to contend in Last Chance Qualifying was an excellent achievement on debut.


They had looked set to return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for another attempt in 2024 after Enerson participated in IndyCar’s January Content Days with the team. But after confidence they would make the test, participation in the entire event was soon put in jeopardy as Enerson struggled to acquire the necessary funding.


Abel Motorsports ultimately announced last week that they would not be running.


“I understand why the team came to the conclusion,” Abel added. “At the end of the day the Indy 500 is really, really expensive to run, so the partners weren’t really necessarily all there for it. And we were going to potentially run somebody else but, at the end of the day, we really just didn’t have a car ready in the first place.”


The chassis run last year was owned by the Enerson family so, to run another driver in 2024, the Abel team would have had to have put together their own chassis. Amid a well-documented parts shortage in IndyCar at present, they did not receive their own chassis until recently - too tight a turnaround to be ready to compete at the Speedway.


There was some consideration from Team Owner Bill Abel about putting son Jacob in the car, but that was eventually decided against.


“Some part shortages and things in IndyCar are affecting the whole entire field,” Abel continued. “It’s not really anyone’s fault. It’s just kind of the nature of it. Unfortunately we’re not running, and unfortunately I’m not running.”


The team does now at least have a chassis of their own, which could open up the possibility of running races later in the year amid their bid to make it into IndyCar’s ever-expanding field. And if the circumstance is right alongside his Indy NXT campaign, that could yet be Abel driving for his family team in the premier series. 


“All of that is very, very speculative right now,” he said. “Our team’s main goal is the Indy NXT championship and running both me and all the other cars that we run in Indy NXT to the fullest ability. Until four or five days ago we were still planning on running the Indy 500, so we still haven’t really fully made that pivot yet. 


“Everything is very speculative there, but I’d love to race in IndyCar. I think that’s all of our dreams. I’d love to, but we’ll see. It’s still very early days.”


There is no doubt that, beyond his 2024 Indy NXT campaign, Abel is targeting an IndyCar move for 2025. He has already tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring International Raceway last November.


“My goal is to race in IndyCar full-time, contend for championships,” he said after the season-opening race in St. Petersburg. “All options are open. Obviously I have the same name as the team, so that does change the dynamic just a little bit. But it’s something that I think I’m still going to have to earn regardless. 


“IndyCar racing isn’t necessarily cheap, so it takes sponsors, partners, all of that. That’s all going to have to come together regardless of what team I’m driving for.”


Abel continues his bid for the Indy NXT title, getting back on track after his “pretty special” first win at Barber, in a doubleheader on the IMS road course this weekend.


“Our full focus is really on this championship and trying to do whatever we can to win that or at least give it our best effort,” he said. “I don’t want to look back and see that I’ve left anything on the table. That’s the biggest goal.”

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