Podium Finish for Havrda in Indianapolis Debut

June 19, 2024

Shift Up Now Athlete Nicole Havrda is currently fourth in the Formula Regional Americas (FR Americas) championship points after three races - including a podium finish - in the Indy SpeedTour at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 14-16, 2024.

Driving the No. 6 Valley Kitchens / Colonial Countertops car for Kiwi Motorsport, Havrda took to the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course for the first time ever on Thursday. During her two testing sessions that day, she showed good pace and was feeling confident heading into Friday, for her final practice session.

On Friday afternoon, Havrda qualified P9, earning her third top-ten qualifying position in three races so far this season.

The FR Americas Indy SpeedTour schedule included three 30-minute sprint races, with the first on Saturday afternoon and two on Sunday.

Race one began at 1:10pm EDT on Saturday, with a special appearance from legendary racer Lyn St. James as the Grand Marshall. Havrda was lined up on the inside of the fifth row on the front straight for the standing start.

When the green flag flew, the field got a clean start and Havrda slotted into P8 heading into turn one. Near the end of the second lap, she was aiming to make a pass for P7 when she made a rare mistake and spun, dropping the No. 6 car to the back of the field.

Undeterred, she continued to focus forward, working her way back into the top ten and setting lap times that were top five in pace. By the time the checkered flag fell, she had advanced to the P8 position.

Sunday morning brought continued sunny, warm weather for the start of race two at 10am EDT. This time, Havrda was starting P7 with her sights set on a top-five finish. Once again, she advanced one position on the start, slotting into P6 at turn one, then moving up to P5 by the end of the first lap.

Just five minutes into the race, double-yellow flags emerged for a spun car, leading to a brief caution period. Afterward, Havrda held P5 for the restart, sticking just behind the front of the pack. When two of the leaders touched, one spun out and the other dropped to the back due to damage.

Despite being passed by the car behind during the melee, Havrda quickly returned the favor and took her P3 spot back.

With 15 minutes left in the competition, another caution flag flew. After the cleanup, eight minutes remained. Havrda stuck with the leaders on the restart and created a full-second gap ahead of the car behind her after one lap of green-flag racing. Her pace through the fast esses section of the back straight enabled her to stretch her lead a bit more each lap.

When the white flag flew, the car behind Havrda made a late move to her inside into turn one. Despite giving him room, the late-braking caused him to lock up and spin. This slowed Havrda as well, putting her under attack from the car behind them both at the end of the back straight. She went head-to-head with him through the first of the esses before reestablishing her P3 spot, crossing the finish line ahead by just tenths of a second, and earning her spot on the podium.

Later that afternoon at 2:30pm EDT, Havrda was starting from the P7 spot again under the hottest sun of the weekend, which made for slippery track conditions.

After a clean start to race three, two cars made contact on lap three, sending one of them into the turn-six tire barriers. The competition was red-flagged for cleanup, and when it restarted, race control declared a 10-minute shootout to the checkered flag. Havrda was ready to go, still in her P7 spot.

The field went four-wide into turn one. Since Havrda was sitting immediately behind the group, she took advantage and gained a position when two of the four made light contact. Heading into turn seven at the end of the back straight, she was stuck in the middle of the train of P3 through P8 cars. As they approached the start/finish line, she was 0.3 seconds behind the P5 car, and in tow.

She spent the next few laps putting pressure on the P5 car while simultaneously fending off pressure from P7. When a car up ahead went off track after an aggressive pass attempt, she gained another position.

The checkered flag fell with Havrda in P5, but was later moved up to P4 when one of the podium-finishers was penalized for forcing another car off the road.

In addition to her solid finishes and fourth-place spot in the championship points standings, Havrda was awarded the “Best Performance of the Weekend” award by the stewards.

“Going into the weekend I was very confident, coming from two podiums at Road America,” she said. “I struggled a bit in qualifying which set me back, but I worked hard and smart in each race and I am so happy to have gotten podium at the iconic Indianapolis. It was an amazing weekend overall and I’m excited to continue to get more podiums in future races.”

Next up, Havrda and the FR Americas tour heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, OH for the Mid-Ohio SpeedTour on June 20-23, 2024.

© 2024 Shift Up Now Inc. All Rights Reserved