Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report

Track:                  Streets of Nashville

Race:                   Big Machine Music City Grand Prix

Date:                   August 8, 2021

No. 2 Hitachi Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden

Start: 12th

Finish: 10th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 80/80

Laps Led: 0

Points Position: 4th (-73 pts)

  • Josef Newgarden has been waiting all year for the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn. The two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion worked tirelessly to promote the event to ensure that it becomes a mainstay on the calendar.
  • After qualifying in the 12th position following an incident in the second round of Saturday’s qualifying session, Newgarden endured an eventful race in the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet. On the first lap of the 80-lap event, Newgarden and Graham Rahal made contact that resulted in slight, right-front damage to his Chevrolet.
  • When the race resumed, Newgarden was caught in heavy traffic that knocked him down the running order a few more positions before settling into 20th place. Race strategist Tim Cindric called his driver down pit road under a lap 17 caution period to put the No. 2 team on a different strategy than some of the race leaders.
  • This strategy allowed Newgarden to remain on the track under a lap 42 caution period as he moved up to the second position when most of the leaders elected to visit pit road. Newgarden had to make one final stop under a caution period on lap 52. The stop resulted in Newgarden falling back a bit in the running order though he rallied to make it back to the 10th position before taking the checkered flag in his hometown race.

Quote: “It was a really tough weekend, you know, it’s been a tough week. It was a great event and I’m really proud of the city of Nashville and INDYCAR. I think just putting this together they did a great job. But specifically on the No. 2 Hitachi Chevy, just sort of a nightmare day. Up and down, you know just tried to fight and I think, ultimately I can’t be too sad. I don’t think we can be dissatisfied with 10th. As up and down as the day was and as much chaos happened, 10th is not the worst thing coming out of here, but very disappointed. I’m proud of my team. I think they did a great job. With Team Chevy and the support from Hitachi – all our partners are always top-notch and the people on the 2 car are a pretty special bunch. I’ll be happy to go into the next race and keep fighting and come back here next year and hopefully redeem ourselves.”

No. 3 DEX Imaging Dallara/Chevrolet – Scott McLaughlin

Start: 23rd

Finish: 22nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 67/80

Laps Led:  0

Points Position:  13th (-200)

  • In Sunday’s inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, Scott McLaughlin and the No. 3 DEX Imaging Dallara/Chevrolet team showed good speed and resiliency. Unfortunately, a pair of on-track incidents disrupted the team’s momentum and resulted in a 22nd-place finish.
  • After running among the leaders in practice throughout the weekend, McLaughlin went off course in qualifying on Saturday and, as a result, started from the 23rd position in Sunday’s race.
  • A pair of incidents in the opening laps forced caution flags and McLaughlin avoided the mayhem as he moved up to 17th place in the DEX Imaging Chevy early on.
  • On lap 17, the No. 3 car was hit from behind by the No. 18 car driven by Ed Jones in an incident that would eventually draw a penalty on Jones for “avoidable contact.” McLaughlin made it back to pit lane after the contact and the DEX Imaging Chevy was able to continue.  
  • An incident involving multiple cars blocked the track and forced a halt to the race with a red flag on lap 19 with McLaughlin running in 22nd place. Once the cars restarted and the pits opened up, the No. 3 DEX Imaging team elected to remain on the track to gain some positions. McLaughlin restarted the race in 19th place.Within a few laps, McLaughlin had worked his way back to 17th place and moved into the 15th position by lap 33 with the race once again under caution.
  • On lap 40, the No. 3 Chevy was hit from behind again as the No. 12 car driven by Will Power got together with his teammate. Another car also made contact with the No. 3 after it was in the tire wall and the race appeared to be over for McLaughlin and the DEX Imaging Chevrolet.
  • The No. 3 team was able to make quick repairs to the damaged car, however, and after being checked and cleared by the INDYCAR medical team, McLaughlin returned to action, running 12 laps down to the leaders.
  • Positioned back in the field, McLaughlin and the team continued on as the rookie NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver gained valuable seat time and experience. He eventually finished 22nd in the running order.
  • Still ranked 13th in the driver standings following Sunday’s result, McLaughlin and the No. 3 Chevrolet team will return to action next Saturday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course at the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix.

Quote: “A promising day unfortunately has turned into a bit of a negative. Our car was strong – our DEX Imaging Chevy looked good and was coming through the field fast. I was having a lot of fun passing a few cars and passing some people on pit strategy as well, but unfortunately got taken out twice. It’s disappointing but it is part of it. I’m probably more disappointed for DEX Imaging. This is their first time back on the car since St. Pete and we were having a really good run there. So, you know I learned a lot this weekend. It’s promising signs for me and my IndyCar career and I’ll continue to focus on just trying to be better and trying to put myself in better situations so we don’t get caught up in the mess. I learned a lot, I love Nashville and I can’t wait to come back here next year.”

No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start: 11th

Finish: 14th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 80/80

Laps Led:  0

Points Position: 11th (-184)

  • As one of the premier street course racers of his generation, Will Power entered the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix with high hopes of challenging for the win. The tough circuit, however, was challenging from the start as he finished 14th in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet.
  • Power qualified the No. 12 Chevrolet in the 11th position, just in front of teammate Josef Newgarden. Despite an up-and-down start to the race, Power was able to drive his way into the top 10 in the first 20 laps of the 80-lap race.
  • The Nashville street circuit features several tight corners, and it was in one of these that Power’s car made contact with the No. 22 Chevrolet of his teammate, Simon Pagenaud. The result was a multi-car accident that eventually forced a red flag from NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Control.
  • While trying to work his way back through the field with a Chevrolet he called “really good,” Power made accidental contact with the No. 3 of Scott McLaughlin that resulted in a drive-through penalty as the race restarted under the green flag.
  • From that point, Power drove to make up as much of the lost track position as possible, but the inconsistent nature of the race that featured nine caution periods made that difficult. He was able to make up four positions over the final 15 laps to finish in the 14th position.

Quote: “Pretty crazy day. I feel bad for Scott definitely. I thought he saw me and I was on new tires and he had like 15 laps on his and it was totally on me. Just a bad move. Rough day to say the least. A 14th-place finish is not a very good day for the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevy, but I learned a lot.”

No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start: 7th

Finish: 21st

Status: Accident

Laps Completed: 68/80

Laps Led:  0

Points Position: 7th (-119)

  • A promising day turned sour for Simon Pagenaud after a series of on-track incidents forced the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet to retire early with a 21st-place finish in the inaugural Music City Grand Prix.
  • Starting from the seventh position, Pagenaud held steady in the opening laps on the new street course, maintaining eighth until contact with teammate Will Power brought out the red flag on lap 20. After an official review placed Pagenaud in the 20th position for the restart, Pagenaud brought the Menards Chevy down pit road for black Firestone tires and fuel before setting his eyes back to the front.
  • The Frenchman began making progress, moving from 21st to 19th within a few laps of the ensuing restart before another caution fell on the streets of Nashville just past the halfway point of the race. After a lengthy clean up and multiple pit stops from other competitors, Pagenaud was able to advance to the sixth position, but he still needed to make one more pit stop.
  • The caution flag flew once again soon after and Pagenaud took the opportunity to make his final routine stop of the day for red Firestones and fuel.
  • The No. 22 Chevy was able to make it up to 14th as Pagenaud continued to chase down the leaders. Unfortunately, on lap 67, Romain Grosjean’s car made contact with the No. 22 Menards Chevy entering a turn. The damage caused by the incident would prevent Pagenaud from finishing the race as he produced a 21st-place finish.
  • Next up the NTT INDYCAR Series heads back to Indianapolis for the highly anticipated tripleheader weekend with the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series. Pagenaud and the rest of the INDYCAR drivers will take to the track on Saturday, August 14, at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Quote: “Well, we didn’t have the day we expected with the Menards Chevy. We had a fantastic racecar, really fast. I wish we could have been at the front all day, but we got collected in two big incidents and ended up not finishing the race, which was a shame. I really enjoyed the racetrack this weekend and I love the town. I’m going to come back and visit. I want to see some good restaurants and music. The design of the track was fun and I look forward to coming back next year.”