Alex Palou leads Graham Rahal heading to turn 9.
Colton Herta took first day honors on the first day of practice for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Herta has been on the front row of the last three races, and he showed no signs of letting that streak last. Herta’s time of 1:16. 587 beat Scott Dixon by 0.38 seconds. Points leader Alex Palou was sixth fastest as Hondas took the first six spots and seven of the first twelve. Dalton Kellett sat out the session with a wiring issue discovered after his installation lap.
The top 13:
I thought today’s practice round was one of the best of the season. It might have been the novelty of the new track, but it just felt like a great session to me. Pato O’Ward hit the wall hard exiting turn 3, causing a six minute red flag. The session ended early when Conor Daly spun into the tire barrier in turn nine with less than five minutes to go.
It was fun seeing the cars going both directions on the bridge at once. It looks like there are several places to pass. The most difficult places on the track are turn 1 where it runs alongside pit out. Tis area could be dicey on race day; turn 3 is very difficult- there is is bump right at the apex of the turn. Some drivers figured out how to get through the corner without touching the bump. Drivers tried several different lines,many of which resulted in a significant wiggle upon exit. The turn 4 and 5 complex at the far end of the bridge is tight, and there were several close calls there. Overall, this track is great for Indycar.
A Great First Day
The Music City Grand Prix had a great first day. There were the usual first day glitches- grandstands not complete, some staff not sure how to solve issues,and some materials not cleaned up. I think tomorrow will be much smoother.
The rain passed without falling. There was a cloud cover and a breeze with made the temperature a little more comfortable. The next two days are expected to be warmer.
There is an advantage to having a football stadium as a base for a street race. It provides a place for shelter should the weather turn bad, it allows the race management to have ticket space and entry gates built in, and they have ready made concession stands.
The food choices aren’t limited to the stadium. Multiple food choices abound inside and outside the track. On one side of the stadium sat a line of food trucks with a large variety of offerings from empanadas to cupcakes. It is probably the largest variety of concessions I have seen at a track. I liked that fans did not have to travel far to find food. At some tracks some grandstands are not close to any concessions. The promoters have made sure no one has to go far for food and drink.
I am already thinking about next year’s event.