NASHVILLE, Tenn — Benjamin Pedersen led the opening practice for the Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix on Friday as the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship prepares to race on the streets of Nashville for the first time.
Pedersen, from Denmark, produced a top lap of 1 minute, 21.8473 seconds in the No. 24 Global Racing Group with HMD entry on the 11-turn, 2.1-mile temporary street circuit that includes two trips over the Cumberland River via the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge on each lap. Pedersen’s best time was more than four-tenths clear of any other driver during the 50-minute session.
SEE: Practice Results
“Overall, this was a great way to start Practice 1, with being fastest,” Pedersen said. “We accomplished exactly what we had in our test plan, and this place is just awesome to drive. It really rewards being on the absolute ragged edge, and it’s just such a big commitment place. Really looking forward to tomorrow and continuing to push ourselves.”
Danial Frost was second at 1:22.2616 in the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car. Hunter McElrea – winner of the last two series races, at Mid-Ohio and Iowa – was third at 1:22.3069 in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport car.
Series points leader Linus Lundqvist was fourth at 1:22.3188 in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry. Lundqvist leads second-place McElrea by 77 points with five races remaining this season.
It was a shift of different directions for the top 4. Pedersen and Frost have gone backwards since Belle Isle while McElrea and Lundqvist are ascending forward.
Pedersen had 4 top 4 finishes, two of which runner-ups, in the first 5 races to the season. He sat 2nd in points. Frost was 3rd in points on the heels of 4 top 5 finishes in the first 6 races.
Frost has finished 8th, 13th and 7th and fallen to 7th in points. Pedersen is 6th after being 6th, 11th, 6th again and 9th in his last 4 starts.
Meanwhile, McElrea has risen to 2nd in points on the heels of 4 straight podiums including two wins in-a-row. Lundqvist has 4 straight top 4’s in that span too.
Matthew Brabham rounded out the top five at 1:22.3457 in the No. 83 Andretti Autosport entry. While Indy Lights never has raced on this circuit, Brabham has experience on the bumpy, tricky layout by racing here in the Robby Gordon Stadium SUPER Trucks series. Up next is the second practice at 11:15 a.m. ET and qualifying at 3:40 p.m. ET Saturday, with live coverage of both sessions on INDYCAR Live! and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network will provide live coverage of the 35-lap race at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.