NASHVILLE, Tenn — It’s fitting that some of the greatest country songs ever made feature some timeless heartbreaks along the way. Someone hurt them and they’ve written a platinum hit in Nashville to memorialize it.
Well, the 2.1-mile street course tucked along the Cumberland River and near the Nissan Stadium, is writing it’s own mega tune. It’s a billboard classic of high tempers and chaos. The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix struck the right cord for drama and there was plenty of it to go around this weekend.
Between a messy qualifying session and dive bombs in the race, we have plenty of hurt feelings in the NTT INDYCAR Series paddock to get us by until the next race in 2 weeks at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Scott Dixon rallied from early race crash damage to which he pit an astounding 7 times on the day to go from outside the top 20 to winning. Yes it took a lucky break at a caution to get there, but Dixon rues that he had a car all along capable of winning.
“These races can be all over the map. And honestly, we had a really fast car all weekend,” Dixon said after netting his 53rd career victory, breaking a tie with Mario Andretti for 2nd most all-time. :We just never really got two consecutive laps together, and we got kind of hosed in qualifying.
“I was so angry after qualifying because I knew we had great speed. We saw that in the warmup this morning that the car just had generally great pace.
“Yeah, you know, this race is tough to read. Last year was much the same for us where we just tried to stay out of trouble, but sometimes when you crash and almost flip the car like Marcus did last year, and us today where we ripped the back part off the car, sometimes just good omens that it’s going to be a good day.
“Yeah, worked out perfectly, but kudos to the team. It was a tough one, and these ones are a lot of fun because it’s such a big team effort, and what we’re able to achieve today was — we got everything.”
2nd place finisher Scott McLaughlin was left fuming after his final pit stop took him from being 2nd or 3rd among the drivers on his strategy down to 16th.
“I was just pissed off, so I just dropped the hammer,” McLaughlin said. “I felt like the seas parted, man, on the restart, and I passed all these cars. Jeez, I was quickly in 8th, and then there was another restart, and I passed two more, and another restart, passed a couple of more. Crap, we could have a go here. Passed one guy on the last one, and I’m, like, come on, Scotty, let’s go.
“Honestly, that was probably, even though it didn’t work out in my favor, one of the most fun races of my career in one of the best race cars I’ve ever had. The car was so good. I had so much fun.”
Then you had the on track spats between Takuma Sato and Devlin DeFrancesco and Romain Grosjean and Josef Newgarden.
Grosjean and Sato were displeased with DeFrancesco and Newgarden respectively for moves they made on them to the inside of Turn 9. The outside cars in this matter (Sato, Grosjean) were forced into the wall essentially ending their days. DeFrancesco wasn’t as fortunate to carry on like Newgarden did.
Sato tried to get to DeFrancesco to confront him but was held back. Grosjean displayed his displeasure with Newgarden as he saw him drive by.
Newgarden though was having none of it.
“Welcome to IndyCar; it gets tight,” Newgarden said “He’s been on a worse end of that. I don’t know what to tell him. Good thing I was ahead. That’s the biggest thing. You’re going to want to be ahead of this guy at this type of moment, but yep, it’s tight street course racing.
“Let me tell you what: I about got taken out six times myself. I probably need to have some discussion with some of the younger guys, but they’re aggressive. They’re very aggressive and if you’re not aggressive back, then you get run over. That’s IndyCar racing. You’ve got to learn that pretty quick. I don’t like it, but that’s the game that we’re in.
“Ultimately we had a big fight back with the PPG car and Team Chevy. That’s all I can say. This has been a really frustrating year in a lot of ways and the way it’s built. We’ve won a lot of races. We’ve had a ton of good luck. All thanks to the team and the effort they’ve put in, but more than not, we’re either winning the race, or things are completely going against us one way or another.
“So it’s built frustration for me because it’s hard to see that happen for this crew when they work so hard. I hate it, too. I’m very competitive, and it happens a couple of times a year where things don’t go your way. It’s part of the luck, but it’s just happened one too many times, and today was another unlucky day with just the way the whole thing played out, and you just can’t predict these races. It’s part of the game, but it can be frustrating at times.”
In 2 years we already have hurt feelings in chaos. The 3rd album drops in Aug. 2022. It’s one worth being in person to witness the concert in front of 100k of your closest friends to watch even closer competitors battle for some shiny new hardware on a grand Music City stage.