NASHVILLE, Tenn — Next season is the 3rd and final year in the contract between the NTT INDYCAR Series as the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Lets hope it’s not the last. While some may say the chaotic nature of the race is messy, I for one say it’s a welcomed addition though.
The track is narrow. It’s unique. It features a bridge you pass over on twice. It’s hot and run in the middle of the dog days of summer in Tennessee. However, it’s a big market for the series and one that they need to keep coming to.
Hell yes it’s messy. Last year’s race saw 9 cautions for 33 laps. This one was one less yellow (8) but more caution laps (36). Out of the 160 combined race laps turned, 43% of them were under caution periods.
That’s not ideal. But Nashville just seems to be the Daytona or Talladega on the INDYCAR schedule. Those races are chaotic and usually see more cars wadded up than finishing. That’s Nashville.
“Yeah, I think Nashville is kind of like the Indy 500 where there are so many things happening, and you just need to survive and have a good car and a car in one piece at the end, so, yeah,” said Alex Palou.
“Obviously, there was a lot of cautions and the red flag, and it’s not ideal, but I don’t know from a fan standpoint.
“As long as they had fun watching it, it’s one of those things that I think the atmosphere here in Nashville and the race event itself, it’s amazing. So as long as the fans are happy, I think it’s good if we continue here.”
26 cars started. A season low 15 cars finished. 10 of the 26 were listed as out due to “contact” but I can point to at least 14 different cars fielding some sort of damage on Sunday afternoon.
Sounds more of a restrictor plate track than a street course but this is what separates Nashville from the other street course stops. It’s mayhem. It’s chaos. Chaos sells. This is something you can promote. Promote chaos and how anyone can win a survival of the fittest race.
The cars are ovens in there with the humidity so high the drivers are fighting off mistakes while being drained. That too is unique.
So does Marcus Ericsson going from getting airborne to winning last year’s race to Scott Dixon overcoming from getting caught up in an early race crash to winning a year later in the 4th closest finish in street course history. Not just here, but ever.
Nashville is a race you need luck to win. Pure speed doesn’t win here. Both winners prove that. But you also can pass if you have a good car too though. Scott McLaughlin was 15th after the final pit sequence. He finished 2nd. Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi were each a lap down early. They had top 5’s.
“It’s fun to drive. It’s challenging,” Herta said of the track. “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.”
This race is fun. It stands out from the pack and some times, being different is okay. This is Nashville and it’s why this race to me has been a hit in a city that’s used to producing hits.
“Other than that, it’s not terrible to have a crazy race every now and again,” notes 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.”