Day 2 at Nashville- Will Rookies Stay Up Front?

Todeay’s Schedule. All Times Central

9:00 AM GATES OPEN

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

9:30 AM TRANS AM SERIES QUALIFYING

10:15 AM INDY LIGHTS PRACTICE 2

11:15 AM INDYCAR PRACTICE 2 Peacock

12:30 PM TRANS AM RACE

1:55 PM GT AMERICA QUALIFYING

2:30 PM INDY LIGHTS QUALIFYING

3:30 PM INDYCAR QUALIFYING Peacock

5:45 PM VINTAGE INDY SESSION

6:15 PM STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS RACE 1

7:25 PM GT AMERICA RACE 1

8:30 PM HEADLINE CONCERT – TIM MCGRAW

10:00PM FIREWORKS SHOW

Usually the second practice yields much different results than the Friday practice. The track has more rubber down, and teams make adjustments overnight. Will yesterday’s top three of rookies Christian Lundgaard,and David Malukas, plus Felix Rosemqvist continue at or near the top of the charts?

I’m still looking at the usual suspects for pole- Colton Herta, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and Rosenqvist.

Weather could be a factor. there is a chance of from 1 pm to 4 pm with temperatures in the upper 80s.

Some Improvements, Some Things Still Needed.

I was happy to see that all grandstands were finished and spectator ready yesterday morning. That is a major correctionfrom last year’s grandstand 6 debacle.

The grand prix has added at least two cool down tents. Each tent has misting fans in all four corners. It was a pleasant relief from the heat and humidity.

Since the start of the race and all restarts will take plac on the Korean War Veterans Bridge, a new flag stand is in place.

The water bottle filling station is a great service, but there needs to be a way to keep the water cold. Refilling your bottle with warm water doesn’t help.

One thing I would like to see the event add is a tram service for those sitting in the grandstands on the outside of the backstretch. There are ADA trams, but if fans in the outer stands want to visit the paddock or friends in the infield, they have a long walk. Another crossover bridge would be helpful.

I will say the Music City Grand Prix did not skimp on bleacher and stands. The seating areas are well constructed and among the sturdiest I have seen. The crossover bridge fromNissanstadium to the infield has two separate one way sets of stairs. with short flights. It was mus=ch easier going to and from the infield.

I’ll be back later with practice results and to set the qualifying groups.

Lundgaard Paces Music City Practice 1

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Rookie Christian Lundgaard led today’s opening practrice for the Big Machine MGrand Prix this afternoon with a lap of 1:15.5659. Felix Rosenqvist anbd David Malukas, another rookie were second and third.

There were several stoppages. Dalton Kellett caused the first red flag when he went into the turn 1 runoff area and stalled. Rinus VeeKay brought out the red for a similar issue a few minutes later. Colton Herta caused the final red flag with about 25 minutes left in the session as he also stalled in the turn 1 run off.

Hwlio Castroneves, who installed a fifth engine and will lose six grid places after qualifyiung, had contact with the wall after locking his brakes in turn 1. He broke the toe link but was able to drive the car back to the pits.

Points leader Will Power had the seventh quickest lap. Defending race champion Marcus ericsson was 11th.

Lundgaard’s fast lap is another positive step for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team. Last weekend Lundgaard finished second in the Gallagher Grand Prix and Graham Rahal finished seventh. We will see if the team’s new found momentumwill continue through the weekend.

Green Tires Debut

Firestone’s new sustainably made tires with a green band made their official raceweekend session debut. Jimmie Johnson was the first dri er to try them out. It was a bit of a shock to see the green banded tire=s the first time by. It was more of a shock to to open the Indycar app and see the trademark F surrounded by green.

Results- Top 12

In the morning I will talk about what has improved since last year and preview qualifying.

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.

Fast Facts-Big Machine Music City Grand Prix

Fast Facts from Indycar. My preview will be up tomorrow. Entry list will be posted on The Pit Window on Facebook.

Race weekend: Friday, Aug. 5 – Sunday, Aug. 7
Track: Streets of Nashville, an 11-turn, a 2.1-mile temporary street course in Nashville, Tennessee
Race distance: NTT INDYCAR SERIES: 80 laps / 168 miles | Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires: 35 laps / 73.5 miles / 55 minutes
Push-to-pass parameters: NTT INDYCAR SERIES: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation. | Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation
.Firestone tire allotment: Six sets primary, four sets alternate to be used during the event weekend. One additional set of primary tires may be used by teams fielding a rookie driver. Teams must use one set of primary and one set of new (sticker) alternate tires for at least two laps in the race.
Twitter: @MusicCityGP, @IndyCar, #MusicCityGP, #INDYCAREvent website: www.musiccitygp.com/
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2021 race winners: NTT INDYCAR SERIESMarcus Ericsson (No. 8 Bryant Chip Ganassi Racing Honda)
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper TiresInaugural event
2021 NTT P1 Award winner: Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda), 1:13.6835, 102.601 mph
Qualifying lap record:NTT INDYCAR SERIESColton Herta, 1:13.6835, 102.601 mph, Aug. 7, 2021Indy Lights Presented by Cooper TiresInaugural event
NBC Sports race telecast: Big Machine Music City Grand Prix 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 7, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe.
Peacock Premium Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product, while NBC’s race telecast of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will be simulcast on the streaming service. Peacock Premium’s exclusive post-race show – featuring driver interviews, podium ceremonies and post-race analysis – will be streamed following the race. The Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix will be streamed on Peacock Premium with practice and qualifying being shown on INDYCAR Live!
INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the anchor alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young are the turn announcers. Ryan Myrehn and Joel Sebastianelli are the pit reporters. The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix race (3 p.m. ET Sunday), Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix (1 p.m. ET Sunday) and all NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires practices and qualifying sessions air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 160, racecontrol.indycar.com and the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.
At-track schedule (all times local):

FRIDAY, AUG. 5
2-2:50 p.m. – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Practice, INDYCAR Live!
3:15-4:30 p .m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice (75 minutes), Peacock Premium

SATURDAY, AUG. 6
10:15-10:55 a.m. – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Practice, INDYCAR Live!
11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice (45 minutes limited guarantee), Peacock Premium
2:40-3 p.m. – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Qualifying, INDYCAR Live!
3:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of NTT INDYCAR SERIES knockout qualifications), Peacock Premium

SUNDAY, AUG. 7
9:15-9:45 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium
12:05 p.m. – Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix “Drivers, start your engines”
12:10 p.m. – Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix (35 laps/73.5 miles/55 minutes), Peacock Premium2
2 p.m. – NBC on air
2:23 p.m. – Big Machine Music City Grand Prix “Drivers, start your engines”
2:30 p.m. – Big Machine Music City Grand Prix (80 laps/160.8 miles), NBC (Live)


NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship facts:· Will Power leads the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with four races to go for the second time in his INDYCAR SERIES career. Power also led the championship with four races to go in 2010 but did not win the title. Power has led the point standings after three of the 13 races this season.· Since 2008 when INDYCAR SERIES racing unified under the NTT INDYCAR SERIES banner, the eventual series champion has won the 14th race of the season four times. The most recent occurrence was 2021 when Alex Palou won at Portland. Other drivers to win the 14th race of their championship season were Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012), Dario Franchitti (2009 and 2010) and Scott Dixon (2008).
Key championship point statistic: Since 2008, the largest deficit overcome by the eventual champion was 59 points by Dario Franchitti in 2010, while Scott Dixon overcame Juan Pablo Montoya’s 54-point lead in 2015. The top six drivers in the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship standings are separated by 52 points.
Point differential: The nine points that separate Will Power and Marcus Ericsson is the third-closest point margin since 2008. Before this season, the average lead with four races to go since 2008 was 37.6 points.
CHAMPIONSHIP WITH 4 TO GO
YEARLEADERSECOND LEADCHAMPION2008Scott DixonHelio Castroneves65Scott Dixon2009Scott DixonRyan Briscoe3Dario Franchitti (-20)2010Will PowerDario Franchitti59Dario Franchitti2011Dario FranchittiWill Power47Dario Franchitti2012Ryan Hunter-ReayHelio Castroneves23Ryan Hunter-Reay2013Helio CastronevesScott Dixon39Scott Dixon2014Helio CastronevesWill Power13Will Power2015Juan Pablo MontoyaScott Dixon54Scott Dixon2016Simon PagenaudWill Power58Simon Pagenaud2017Josef NewgardenHelio Castroneves7Josef Newgarden2018Scott DixonAlexander Rossi46Scott Dixon2019Josef NewgardenAlexander Rossi16Josef Newgarden2020Scott DixonJosef Newgarden76Scott Dixon2021Alex PalouPato O’Ward21Alex Palou2022Will PowerMarcus Ericsson9?   
 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Notes: There have been eight different winners in 13 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races in the 2022 season. Scott McLaughlin (Streets of St. Petersburg, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course), Josef Newgarden (Texas Motor Speedway, Streets of Long Beach, Road America, Iowa Speedway-1), Pato O’Ward (Barber Motorsports Park, Iowa Speedway-2), Colton Herta (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-1), Marcus Ericsson (Indianapolis 500), Will Power (Raceway at Belle Isle Park), Scott Dixon (Streets of Toronto) and Alexander Rossi (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-2) have all won in 2022.
The record for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014.
The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will be 14th race of the 2022 season and the fifth and final temporary street circuit race of the 17-race NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Team Penske has won three of the previous four events with Scott McLaughlin winning St. Petersburg on Feb. 27, Josef Newgarden winning at Long Beach April 10 and Will Power winning at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park on June 5.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won at Toronto on July 17.
Firestone will use the racetrack as a proving ground to demonstrate the performance of a new sustainable natural rubber derived from guayule, a desert shrub grown in the American Southwest. Firestone Firehawk race tires made with guayule-derived natural rubber were introduced at the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge in May and will make their competition debut as the alternate race tire at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville. The guayule natural rubber is located within the Firestone Firehawk’s sidewall. Bridgestone race tire engineers decided to use the guayule rubber in the entire sidewall because that area is made up of the most natural rubber. This allows Firestone to maintain the same quality and performance as the existing race tire. Bridgestone plans to incorporate guayule natural rubber into more of its race tires starting in 2023. For B-Roll of the tire, click HERE.Milestones: 
Scott Dixon will attempt to make his 302nd consecutive start, the second-longest streak in INDYCAR SERIES history … With his next win, Dixon will break a tie with Mario Andretti and give him sole possession of second on the INDYCAR SERIES all-time victory list with 53 wins … With his next pole position, Will Power will tie Mario Andretti for the INDYCAR SERIES record for most career poles with 67 … With his next win, Power will tie Michael Andretti for fourth on the INDYCAR SERIES all-time victory list with 42.
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Notes:The Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix will be the series’ debut in Nashville. Linus Lundqvist of HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing is in the midst of a dominant season, leading the series in wins (4), poles (5) and top-five finishes (9) through nine races. Lundqvist, a native of Sweden, owns a commanding 77-point lead over second-place Hunter McElrea of Andretti Autosport.While the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is new to Nashville, two drivers have experience on 2.1-mile street circuit in other cars. Matthew Brabham and Jacob Abel raced in Nashville in 2021 in the Stadium Super Trucks doubleheader. Brabham recorded two podium finishes in the event.Danial Frost, Christian Rasmussen and Hunter McElrea have all scored their first Indy Lights win in 2022. Will another talented prospect like Sting Ray RobbBenjamin PedersenKyffin Simpson or Ernie Francis Jr. score a first series win on the streets of Nashville?
Push-to-pass could play a key strategic role at Nashville as Indy Lights drivers will have a bank of 150 seconds to use an added 50 horsepower to assist in overtaking, similar to the drivers in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The maximum amount of time for each press of the overtake system is 15 seconds.

Music City Grand Prix Schedule

All Times Central Daylight Time

FRIDAY AUGUST 5TH

9:30 AM GATES OPEN

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

10:15 AM TRANS 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

SATURDAY AUGUST 6TH

8:00 AM MUSIC CITY MILES & MEMORIES BIKE/WALK/RUN/RUCK

9:00 AM GATES OPEN

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

9:30 AM TRANS AM SERIES QUALIFYING

10:15 AM INDY LIGHTS PRACTICE 2

11:15 AM INDYCAR PRACTICE 2 Peacock

12:30 PM TRANS AM RACE

1:55 PM GT AMERICA QUALIFYING

2:30 PM INDY LIGHTS QUALIFYING

3:30 PM INDYCAR QUALIFYING Peacock

5:45 PM VINTAGE INDY SESSION

6:15 PM STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS RACE 1

7:25 PM GT AMERICA RACE 1

8:30 PM HEADLINE CONCERT – TIM MCGRAW

10:00PM FIREWORKS SHOW

SUNDAY AUGUST 7TH

8:00 AM GATES OPEN

9:15 AM INDYCAR WARMUPS Peacock

10:00 AM VINTAGE INDY SESSION

10:55 AM GT AMERICA RACE 2

12:10 PM INDY LIGHTS RACE Peacock

1:20 PM INDYCAR PRE RACE CEREMONIES

2:30 PM INDYCAR BIG MACHINE MUSIC CITY GRAND PRIX NBC; Peacock

4:45 PM INDYCAR VICTORY LANE CELEBRATION

5:05 PM STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS RACE 2

5:45 PM POST RACE CONCERT – BRANTLEY GILBERT & CARLY PEARCE

**ALL TIMES TENTATIVE, SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Music City GP Makes Track Improvements; Adds Fan Attractions

The Music City Grand Prix, Indycar’s street race in Nashville August 5-7, announced some track modifications in hopes of improving the racing. I am glad they are taking these steps. Some new fan attractions were also announced. The highlights:

  • Restart zone moving from finish line to start line for Aug. 5-7 weekend featuring the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
  • Pro Watercross National Tour, General Jackson Riverboat add buzz to neighboring Cumberland River. 
  • Premium packages, three-day grandstand tickets currently on sale to general public. 
  • The official release from the Grand Prix

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 18, 2022) – A new restart zone will highlight several track modifications for the competitors while fans will enjoy some new entertainment options, including professional jet ski competition, during the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix INDYCAR weekend set for Aug. 5-7 at the Nissan Stadium campus.
 
The most impactful competition alteration for all five series competing in the race weekend – the NTT INDYCAR SERIESIndy LightsGT America,Trans Am and Stadium SUPER Trucks – will be the shift of the restart zone. 
 
During last year’s inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, the restarts occurred at the finish line in front of Nissan Stadium but now will move to the long straightaway as the field exits the Korean Veterans Bridge and toward Turn 9. It will be the same zone that was used for the start of each race last season and should provide cleaner restarts and more immediate passing opportunities.
 
Course Improvements
 
Other modifications or changes to the 2.17-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit include:

  • Turn 11 apex being opened approximately six feet to not only increase the track width but provide better vision for drivers.
  • Transition areas at both ends of the KVB Bridge being smoothed as much as possible to reduce the potential of the cars bottoming coming on and off the bridge.
  • Resurfacing at the Turn 5 apex to minimize the bump.
  • Track width into Turn 9 being reduced to 50 feet to accommodate additional suites in a primary viewing area.
  • Additional gates being added to maximize track crossings at several locations.

Waterfront Additions

While the Korean Veterans Bridge serves as the signature of the track layout, the Cumberland River that it crosses also will be an area with plenty of action during the race weekend. The new additions will be a stop on the Pro Watercross National Tour and the General Jackson Riverboat Experience.

The Pro Watercross series, in conjunction with the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, will stage the inaugural Nashville Invitational event on Friday, Aug. 5, and Saturday, Aug. 6, of race weekend.

The jet ski riders will reach speeds of more than 85 miles per hour competing against each other on a three-quarter mile, closed-course layout on the Cumberland River. Friday’s action will feature slalom competition with the riders racing on adjacent courses. On Saturday, the competitors will go head to head in a more traditional style of racing.

Spectator viewing areas will be located in the Big Machine Music City Fan Zone along the East Bank as well as on the downtown side of the river at 143 First Avenue North. Fan Zone viewing is free with event admission and the downtown location will be free admission.

The General Jackson Riverboat will be the featured water entertainment on Sunday, Aug. 7, in anticipation of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at 2 p.m. CT. 

All-day food and beverage (alcohol not included) will be available on the riverboat, which gives guests the option of a cruise from Opryland or just board at the boat ramp adjacent to the Nissan Stadium campus where it will be moored. The boat is climate controlled with closed-circuit race coverage and private restrooms.  A general admission ticket to roam the grounds and enjoy the race festivities is included in the $349 price.

Fan Enhancements

The Fan Zone also will get several enhancements highlighted by the the relocation of the secondary music stage moving to the footprint closer to the river, heightened bar / gathering experiences, more food trucks, and more sponsor activation areas.

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will be a three-day festival of racing and music from Aug. 5-7 featuring the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Indy Lights, GT America, Trans Am Series, Stadium SUPER Trucks and Vintage Indy. The musical entertainment is highlighted by nightly on-site concerts featuring prominent artists who will be announced at a later date. For ticket and event information, please visit www.musiccitygp.com.

Nashville Wrap-Up: A Couple More Race Thoughts and The Event

Indycar photo by Chris Owens

Marti Update: She is doing very well and is awaiting for a space to open up at a rehab facility in Indianapolis. I think we will see a full recovery. Thanks again to everyone for their concern and the many people who asked about her this weekend.

Per my post earlier this afternoon, my condolences to the family of Bob Jenkins, who lost his battle with brain cancer today. He was my favorite broadcaster of this era, and Imissed his voice at IMS this May.

Final Race Musings

James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay picked up the gauntlet for Andretti Autosport yesterday with their best finishes of the season. Hinchcliffe’s podium is probably too late to save his seat in the 29, but might help him land somewhere else for 2022.

I don’t think enough has been said about how well Marcus Ericsson drove once he got to the lead on lap 56. He easily kept Colton Herta at arm’s length and pulled away from Scott Dixon on the final restart. In spite of his crazy day, Ericsson deserved the win.

Bad races happen, and it is unfortunate that the first Music City Grand Prix turned out to be one. Running 42% of the laps under caution is not great for attracting new fans.

What Needs to Improve

Five things that will improve the fan experience:

  • Signage- as the weekend went on, more directional signs appeared, but not all of the grandstands had exterior signs indicating which sections were at which entrance. More track maps would have helped as well, especially having them near the directional signs.
  • *Water filling stations. The Know Before You Go section said fans could bring an empty water bottle and that there would be places to fill them. Outside of the fountains in the stadium concourse, I only saw one place to fill bottles, and it didn’t appear until Sunday morning. There need to be several of these in different locations, and they need to be there on Friday.
  • Tickets- I hated the electronic tickets. They were difficult to access. Sending tickets via email link that can be screenshot on your phone would be much more convenient, especially when for the first time all weekend, they started checking tickets at the grandstand entrance. It created a backup with everyone having to get out their phone and find their tickets again.
  • Grandstand Access- A reserved seat had to be purchased as a three day package. On Friday and Saturday fans could go into any grandstand they wanted to and no one checked their tickets. On Sunday for the Indycar race, security guards began checking tickets. People who had been sitting in the stands all day had to have their tickets checked. Other street races make Friday a free day to attract more local fans, which leads me to my final point.
  • Pricing- I thought this was the most expensive three day seat I have purchased at a street race. Because of the ticket price, I did not buy a paddock pass. I thought the paddock should have been included at the price point of the seats. It would have made the tickets more reasonable.

Ending With Some Positives

The promoters got what they wanted- a well attended, well promoted event. I saw signs at several major intersections in Nashville during the two weeks I was in town.

There was local buzz. The television ratings in Nashville were exceptionally good. This morning I stooped for breakfast at a Starbuck’s. I was wearing on of my The pit Window shirts. The woman taking my order noticed and asked me if I enjoyed the race. She then asked how I though the event could improve next year. I shared a few suggestions. She said,”Well I hope you come back for it next year.” This is exactly how street races grow.

When I got to the hospital this morning, Marti told me her nurse Sunday afternoon said that everyone at the hospital was talking about the race.

Now that it appears we have another solid street race in the making, let’s find a couple more ovals.

Thanks for following along this past weekend. There is another race this coming weekend, I hear.

Quick Thoughts- Music City Grand Prix

I will have more tomorrow night after i return to Indianapolis. Marti is awaiting the okay to transfer back to a rehab facility in Indianapolis.

I have seen worse races. I just don’t remember when. I don’t mean bad races, such as Texas 1 this year where there is no passing. I mean races where caution follows caution continuously. There were nine cautions today. The frequent yellows threw all pit strategies out the window, and the red flag with five laps to go did bit help things for a race that just needed to be put out of its misery as soon as possible.

It wasn’t all bad, though. Laps 50 -75 were really good, as we watched Colton Herta pick off one driver after another and stalk leader Marcus Ericsson. When Herta locked up his tires in an attempt to pass Ericsson, he needed to settle for second place. His crash brought an effective anticlimactic end to the race.

A very good day for Andretti Autosport turned into just a good day, with James Hinchcliffe earning a podium and Ryan Hunter-Reay finishing fourth. Besides Herta’s crash, Alexander Rossi was running in the top three when came together with Pato O’Ward, ruining both drivers’ chances for a good result.

Winner Marcus Ericsson had an up and down day-literally. On the first restart he plowed into the back of Sebastien Bourdais’ car, lifting the nose of Ericsson’s car in the air, served two penalties, made six pit stops, yet somehow through the chaotic pit stop schedules ended up leading the race.

Alex Palou didn’t have a great day as he got stuck in traffic after his first stop and couldn’t seem to pass anyone after that. Still, he ended up seventh and actually increased his points lead over second place. Palou continues to take what the race gives him to get the most points he can. This is why I thnk he will win the championship.

Dalton Kellett completed just 37 laps but seemed to be involved in several incidents.

Marcus Ericsson is fifth in the points with a second and a first in his last two races.

The race took just 18 and a half minutes less to complete than this year’s Indianapolis 500.

I will have more on the race tomorrow night and a weekend wrapup on Tuesday. there is lots to discuss about how this event needs to move forward.

Nashville Race Day

The inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is ready to go at 4:30 pm Central Time on NBCSN. How clean a race will it be? If the trend we have seen in practice and qualifying continues, it could be a long race with possibly a red flag stoppage.I hope the race can run cleanly, but I’m not sure t can. The first lap is the key. If the field gets through the first lap unscathed, we might be okay with just an occasional spin or crash. Yellows breed yellows could never be more true than it might be today.

Here’s hoping for a safe clean race. Scott Dixon could tie Mario Andretti for second on the all time win list today. Can Alex Palou increase his points lead? His six place grid penalty means he as his two closest contenders, Dixon and Pato O’Ward, starting ahead of him.

Tire and pit stop strategy is a factor today. The reds didn’t get much time so they are a bit of an unknown for the race. Pole sitter Colton Herta was very fast on the primary black tire. Look for which tire the top qualifiers begin the race on. That will indicate how they plan to run the race.

Today’s Schedule:

I bought a program yesterday. Outside of the Indianapolis 500 I don’t usually buy a race program, but since this is the inaugural event, I thought it would be nice to have. I like the cover art, featuring hometown driver Josef Newgarden, Alex Palou, and Pato ‘Ward. Interesting that they omitted Dixon, who won hree times at Nashivlle Superspeedway and is third in points.