NASHVILLE, Tenn — After a chaotic inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix that featured 9 cautions for 33 laps, changes were made on the 2.1-mile layout to hope for a better flow of the 2nd edition. Instead, 8 cautions for 36 laps ensued.
Do more changes need to be made? Some drivers are okay with the race being the way it is now.
“It’s not terrible to have a crazy race every now and again,” said 4th place finisher on Sunday Colton Herta. “And this might be INDYCAR, some of the races are snoozers and some of them are really amazing, and some of them are amazing for this reason, because there’s cars going off all the time, you never know who is going to win.”
One change that he does want though is to move the restarts back to the original location. This year’s experiment was sketchy he notes. See we wondered that from the get go. A long bridge with a ton of speed and then slowing down to a tight corner could lead to chaos. However, a shorter straightaway with another tight complex of corners like we had last year was even more dangerous.
So what’s the best result here?
“I don’t know what they can do,” he says. “I don’t think that restarting on the bridge was a good thing. I thought the closing speeds were incredibly unsafe, and I’m sure that they’re going to probably change it to something else for next year because it was really dangerous. Especially going over a bridge like that. You don’t want to go over the back of somebody.
“It’s just the field spans out so much. I got every range of restart, right? I got a restart where I was 25th or whatever, and then all the way up until I was fourth or fifth or whatever it was. I got all the ranges of restarts.
“Coming from the back, the field through that tight section is so strung out that they’re pushing to get back up. And by the time the leader is halfway across the bridge, cars are still going through turn five, six, seven. As they come on to the straight, they’re flat out, and it’s a bridge, right? You can’t see what’s over the end of it. So you come over the bridge, and it’s, like, oh, all the cars are going 70 miles an hour, 80 miles an hour.
“So I think it’s something that they knew could have been a little bit of a problem, but they wanted to try it out, so we’ll see what they do in the future. I think something has to be adjusted.”
Other than that, Herta is pleased with how this track has played out in the brief 2 year history of it so far.
“It’s fun to drive. It’s challenging. It’s really challenging. It’s hard enough on a street course to have straight-line braking for a hairpin or really still corner. When you are coming in 180, and you have braking that’s turning away from the corner, like turn four and turn nine are, it is really challenging because you unload that right front tire, so it’s really easy to lock and then go into the wall or go into the runoff.
“So it is a lot of challenging parts to this track that I do enjoy, yeah.”