Last year’s inaugural Nashville Grand Prix featured nine cautions and was remembered for being a wild spectacle that ended with a most unexpected winner in Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson, who crashed early in the race but recovered to reach victory lane in what was dubbed the “Music “. Urban Miracle.’
For anyone who thought it would be impossible for the second edition of the Tennessean street race to be as bad as the first… well, think again. After eight cautions and almost half the race – 36 out of 80 laps – spent behind the pace car, 2022 had significant parallels to 2021 when Ericsson’s team-mate Scott Dixon was involved in a crash and managed to overcome adversity and win his second victory of the. season
Dixon won an all-New Zealand drag race to tear across the finish line just 0.1067s ahead of Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin after a late red flag turned the event into a two-lap sprint where the #9 CGR Honda – with a broken left. -rear diffuser and damaged dash—held the charging No. 3 Chevy to give Ganassi a perfect record at the crash-happiest spot on the calendar.
CGR’s Alex Palou survived to take the final podium spot despite spending half the race with a broken left-front wing which he needlessly damaged after hitting Penske’s Volopovo while making a pass on the bridge. His #10 Honda was 0.6100s behind Dixon at the checkered flag.
“Congratulations to the team,” Dixon said. “We had a big crash there and took half the floor off the car. We had to take four turns the front wing out so we had no grip, and then I think we did about 45 or 50 laps on that last set of tires; we didn’t even take tires [on the last pit stop] so huge credit to Firestone. Oh man, Nashville is so awesome.”
The win moved Dixon into a solitary passion of second on the all-time IndyCar win list with 53, behind only AJ Foyt at 67. For pole sitter McLaughlin, who looks up to Dixon as a national hero, the drag race was a dream come true. , minus the final second part.
“Just missed the finish, but congratulations to Scotty,” he said. “Always dreamed of racing him to the finish, but that was a proper duel and I had a lot of fun. That’s why I come with IndyCar racing – this is the best race in the world.”
Starting fourth, Palou was in the mix all day, leading more laps than anyone with 31, but as the endless cautions scrambled strategies, he was forced to settle for third.
“Every day you’re on the podium is a good day,” he said after hugging Chip Ganassi. “Got some points back for the championship.”
The relentless hits, spins, and crashes resulted in only 13 of the 26 drivers making it to the finish. Behind Palou, two drivers who didn’t expect to be there took fourth and fifth as Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta overcame a meeting with the wall (Herta) on lap 3 and a stalled car (Rossi) on lap 8 that left both. drivers lap down just minutes into the competition.
Quick repairs and smart use of the cautions to break away, coupled with aggressive driving, saved the day for Andretti after front-row starter Romain Grosjean ended up in the wall during a collision with Josef Newgarden and Devlin DeFrancesco drew the ire of Takuma Sato after sick -fated overtaking attempt put both drivers into the wall.
“This place is pretty wild,” Rossi said. “I think that’s as good as a win. A big thank you to the team for sticking around.”
What a day so far for Colton Herta.
– INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) 7 August 2022
“I’m happy with how we came back, not only for starting at the back, but also for laps down at some point, that doesn’t happen too often,” said Herta, who complimented his pit crew for gaining many positions for the No. 26 Honda on the day .
Chippy Newgarden, who was not interested in hearing Grosjean’s side of the story, completed the top six. After the Penske driver, some notable performances were recorded as Felix Rosenqvist charged from 15th to seventh when Arrow McLaren SP teammate Pato O’Ward was hit from behind by Graham Rahal and lost drive as a result of the contact. He fell to the 24th.
Rahal, for his part, was involved in three crashes, including one while trying to move back to the pits after hitting O’Ward in the back. He would finish 23rd.
Adding to the fun, Rahal’s success on the back of O’Ward also moved O’Ward into the back of championship leader Will Power who went lighter than O’Ward, but suffered gear change problems from lap 26 onwards and lost time with each stint . He would save the 11th.
Rahal’s rookie teammate Christian Lundgaard was a rocket for most of the afternoon but dropped to eighth in the two-lap sprint to the finish; he restarted second behind Dixon.
The hits-to-the-gearbox problems didn’t stop with Power and O’Ward. What appeared to be a relatively minor knock from behind by Herta caused Ganassi’s Marcus Ericsson to miss out on a top 10 finish. He lost a drive, was restarted, and lost a drive again when he finished 14th, the last car out of the race.
Jimmie Johnson wrecked on his own. David Malukas and Kyle Kirkwood were on pace for their best IndyCar finishes, but they crashed out of seventh and eighth, respectively. Callum Ilott had a flat tire and hit Rossi. Rahal nosed into the wall and Rinus VeeKay was unable to avoid running into him. The big traffic jam that injured Power, O’Ward, and Rahal, also ended the days of Dalton Kellett and Simona De Silvestro.
In that jam, Dixon was sent flying a short distance when he was lifted up from behind – where his lasting damage occurred. Helio Castroneves turned and stopped leaving the pits. Simon Pagenaud hit the back of Palou’s car. There were probably 50 other incidents that left noses, wings, side pods, floors, wheels and tires in sorry shape.
A full 46 percent of the race was run behind the pace car, up from 43 percent in 2021. Last year, 30 percent of the field did not finish; this year, it reached the astonishing 50 percent mark. The only area of improvement came with cautions – down from nine to eight – and penalties, also down from nine to eight.
The series now moves on to the Bomarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway on August 20.