Music City Grand Prix Preview- Altered Track, New Tires- Better Race?

Today’s Schedule: All Times Central

9:30 AM GATES OPEN

9:30 AM-5:00 PM PRO WATERCROSS ON THE CUMBERLAND

10:15 ATRANS AM SERIES PRACTICE 1

11:55 AM GT AMERICA TEST SESSION

12:30 PM GT AMERICA PRACTICE 1

1:15 PM TRANS AM SERIES PRACTICE 2

2:00 PM INDY LIGHTS SERIES PRACTICE 1

3:15 PM INDYCAR PRACTICE 1 Peacock

4:45 PM STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS QUALIFYING

5:20 PM FREEDOM FRIDAY MILITARY DEMONSTRATION

6:15 PM GT AMERICA PRACTICE 2

7:00 PM

FREEDOM FRIDAY TRIBUTE CONCERT FEATURING AARON LEWIS

The second year of a race, especially a street race, usually sets the tone for the event’s future. I tend to gave new races a pass the first year. The Music City Grand Prix had some issues in 2021, from customer service- grandstands weren’t complete until Sunday, some security and other staff were a bit, shall we say, overzealous- and the race itself was perhaps the worst one of last season.

Things look much better for 2022. It appears all infrastructure is set to go this morning. The track has been tweaked a bit to improve the racing, and fans are returning. I checked the ticket availability Wednesday. I saw fewer than 500 grandstand tickets available. I expect a much improved event.

Track Changes

Two turns have been modified, the start and all restarts will take place on the bridge, and some areas have been repaved.

Turn 9 has narrowed to 60 feet from 85 feet. This will slow the cars down and should create another passing area as the cars need to slow after exiting the bridge. Turn 11 has been widened by six feet in hopes of eliminating the bottleneck which was created last year by cars getting sideways and causing one the red flags in 2021.

Bridge entrances and exits have been repapved and the big bump in turn 5 has been reduced.

Today’s first practice at 3:15 Central time will tell us a lot about the effectiveness of the changes.

New Alternate Tires Debut

Nashville is the first race test for Firestone’s new alternate tire, produce fro the guayule plant, a more sustainable, more quickly replaced rubber substance. The tires have a green band in place of the traditional red on the alternate tire. In May Cara Krstolic told me Firestone chose Nashville for the tire’s race debut because they wanted to start with a low load track. The tire is scheduled to be the alternate for the full 2023 season.

Drivers expressed concerns about the consistency of the red alternate tires last weekend. I am interested in hearing their comments this weekend.

Paretta, Simona Return

Nashvile is the third and final race of the year for Paretta Autosport with driver Simona DeSilvestro, unless funding can be found for one of the west coast races. The team partners with Ed Carpenter Racing. I hope they can expand their program next year.

The Championship

With just four races to go, only 46 points separate the top five drivers in the standings. Will Power leads Marcus Ericsson by just nine points. Ericsson won this race in 2021 whoile Power did not finish well afetr a couple of spins in turn 11.

I think Power slightly increases his lead over Ericsson, but a couple of other contenders will gain ground. Josef Newgarden was disappointed in his showing in his hometown race in 2021, and carries aq lot of motivation into the weekend. Colton Herta dominated Nashville last year until he crashed late in the race.

A Honda Track?

Honda cars were quickest in 2021 in Nashville, and they showed well in Toronto this year. This track has many of the same elements as Toronto, and I look for the Ganassi team to be the class of the field. Like last week at IMS, a driver leaving his team at the end of the year will come away with a win. Defending champion Alex Palou will keep the Music City GP trophy in the Ganassi camp.

Look for a wrapup later this evening. I will report what I can from the track.

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