Callum Ilott Survives Big Machine Music City Grand Prix to Finish 15th
Nashville, Tennessee (August 7, 2022)– NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Callum Ilott survived multiple incidents throughout the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix today to finish 15th in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet.
The weather played a big role throughout the three-day event on the 2.17 mile, 11-turn temporary street course located in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Teams and drivers faced very hot and humid temperatures, along with heavy rain and storms throughout the weekend.
Friday afternoon the NTT INDYCAR SERIES kicked off with a 75-minute practice session under extremely hot, humid conditions. Ilott finished 13th overall in the No. 77 JHR Chevrolet. Saturday morning the series returned for one final practice session before qualifying that afternoon. Ilott finished 16th during the second practice session.
Three rounds of knock out qualifying took place that afternoon after a delay due to lighting in the vicinity of the track. The No. 77 JHR Chevrolet was placed in Group 1 for the first round. Ilott was looking to lay down his fastest lap throughout the session, but unfortunately two red flags would not allow him the chance to put in a solid lap and advance into the second round. Ilott would have to settle for the 19th starting position.Sunday morning the NTT INDYCAR SERIES completed a 30-minute warm up session, with Ilott finishing 16th overall before storms settled in early in the afternoon.
The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix was set to begin at 3:30PM EST, but heavy rain and lightning would postpone the start of the 80-lap race for almost two hours. Once conditions became safe for the start of the race the green flag waved for an incredibly action-packed race. Ilott, who started 19th looked to go on a different pit strategy, pitting five laps into the race. The first of many cautions came out just three laps later, putting strategy to work. Unfortunately, the bad luck would begin for Ilott on lap-26 when seven cars, including the No. 77 JHR Chevrolet were involved in multiple incidents. Ilott who was stalled due to the traffic jam during the incident, was able be refired and return going one lap down. After the race returned green Ilott looked to move forward, but again would be involved in an incident a few laps later where his tire ended up punctured. The crew was able to get the No. 77 back on track but would be four laps down. After many more cautions Ilott was able to survive and bring home a 15th place finish.
“That was a disaster in one way, but we finished P15 in the end somehow,” said Ilott. “We had an incident early on in Turn-6, where they piled up. I had the clutch in, but for some reason it stalled. It took a minute for them to restart me, which they did get me restarted, but it was a bit frustrating. Once we got going, I was in the middle of the pack, and I think I got a touch from Felix (Rosenqvist) which gave me a puncture into Turn-9 and then had another big whack and then I touched with (Alexander) Rossi. I couldn’t turn and I thought the car was done and brought it back in. At this point we were four laps down but were able to get back on track. The pace was good, but what a weird race. I’m glad to get a little rest now because that was a long couple of weeks. Thank you to everyone who watched and thank you to Juncos Hollinger Racing for supporting me and getting me through this weekend and getting me to the end to get those points. We beat a lot of guys who I needed to get points on, so hopefully we can make a few more positions during the final races left in the championship.”
“That was a very wild weekend, more than we could have expected, but to bring the No. 77 JHR home in 15th is amazing,” said Co-owner and Team Principal Ricardo Juncos. “Survival was the factor today, with only 15 cars on track at the end of the race. The team did an incredible job getting the car back on track as quickly as possible. Callum handled everything so well, even with the frustration of being involved with multiple incidents, he still finished and that is what we needed to do. I want to thank all of sponsors and guests who made it out this weekend and to all of the fans who were here to witness this ride to the end.”