CHEVROLET IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES
BIG MACHINE MUSIC CITY GRAND PRIX
TEAM CHEVY FIRESTONE FAST SIX REPORT
AUGUST 5, 2023
IT’S AN ALL-CHEVROLET FRONT ROW FOR SUNDAY’S BIG MACHINE MUSIC CITY GRAND PRIX ON THE STREETS OF NASHVILLE
- Scott McLaughlin, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet, captured his first pole of the 2023 NTT INDYCAR Series season and fourth of his career on the streets of Nashville with his fastest lap of 01:14.6099.
- McLaughlin’s pole award is the second for the Bowtie brand on the 2.17-mile temporary street circuit in downtown Nashville in the third year of the event, with McLaughlin going back-to-back on NTT P1 Pole Awards for the Music City Grand Prix
- With his strong runner-up effort lap of 01:14.9395, Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren INDYCAR Chevrolet, helped Team Chevy capture the front row and finished second in the Firestone Fast Six.
- Chevrolet is represented by five drivers in the top-10 starting lineup, including McLaughlin (first), O’Ward (second), Will Power (seventh), Josef Newgarden (ninth), and Alexander Rossi (10th).
- The morning rain-soaked second practice session saw six Chevrolet drivers represented in the top-10, including both Ed Carpenter Racing entries of Rinus VeeKay and Ryan Hunter-Reay, all three Team Penske drivers Will Power, Scott McLaughlin, and Josef Newgarden, and INDYCAR Rookie and Juncos Hollinger Racing driver Agustin Canapino.
- Due to rainy conditions, final practice was cancelled, and qualifications moved to the final practice window later, capping off Saturday on the Streets of Nashville.
TEAM CHEVY TOP-10 QUALIFYING RESULT:
1st Scott McLaughlin
2nd Pato O’Ward
7th Will Power
9th Josef Newgarden
10th Alexander Rossi
TEAM CHEVY TOP-10 SECOND PRACTICE RESULT:
2nd Rinus VeeKay
3rd Will Power
4th Scott McLaughlin
7th Ryan Hunter-Reay
8th Josef Newgarden
10th Agustin Canapino
Green flag for the 80-lap, 168-mile 2023 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix waves live on Sunday, Aug. 6 at noon ET on NBC from the streets of Nashville. Additional coverage of the race can be found on Peacock, INDYCAR Radio, and SiriusXM Channel 160.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING (QUOTES):
Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Chevrolet at Team Penske:
“It’s just been okay. You know, not great. Obviously not a great session for us. So, We’ll work from the top-10 there and try to make some magic in the race. I think it’s the best thing we can do. We’ve got a great team. You never know what can happen. It’s tough to say. I think you could have a nightmare day and still win this race. That’s pretty much what’s happened the last two years. I think as soon as you predict that, it typically doesn’t go that way, but you just never know. You have to go in (to the race) with a good attitude. I think we’ve got the team to do it every time so let’s see what happens.”
Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Chevrolet at Team Penske:
“We did a big lap for Q1 that really set us up. This DEX Imaging printer wagon, man, every time we’re in this printer wagon DEX Imaging Chevy, she’s a ripper. I’m really proud of that one. We set it up in Q1 and had a really good run. Saved one lap, and go do the big laps when you need to do them, and I did that twice in that session I’m really proud of.”
What does it do for your psyche knowing others are behind you on the start with the potential chaos of Nashville?
“Who knows with this place. Yellows can happen out of the blue, and strategy can be thrown anywhere. We start in the No. 1 spot, and I’m really proud of this team. We had a great call on strategy there in qualifying. It’s basically the same car we had last year and put it on pole two years in a row. It’s unreal.”
Will Power, No. 12 Chevrolet at Team Penske:
“I made a mistake in (turn) nine. We were definitely on a lap. Until nine, it was good enough to get through. Locked the front and then went all the way out to the wall down the first. Yeah, that kind of ruined it for us. You’ve got to get it on that first lap when the tires are good. That’s your only chance. We were there, made a little mistake, can’t do that.”
Is this one of those tracks where you want to start up front considering the history of this race?
“Yeah. You would expect so, but you don’t know. It could be like Toronto and go mostly green. Toronto used to be like this race. Easy to make mistakes. It doesn’t, as you’ve seen this year, sometimes it doesn’t matter where you qualify. For us on the road and street course races, we need to be in the top-six if you want to win the race. Further than that, top-four, otherwise we’re just not going to have a chance.”
Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“Congrats to Scott. I don’t think I had three-tenths of a second in there to get a little bit closer; I maybe had one. But I was super happy with my car. I think we were really strong in Round 2. I thought it would be a couple tenths slower in the Firestone Fast 6 just because I wasn’t on the Firestone Red Tires. I’ve never won from pole, so I’m not angry I’m starting second.”
Felix Rosenqvist, No. 6 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“I thought it was pretty good. It was a lot better in practice. Obviously, not a lot of track time. The track was actually really, really grippy so it’s kind of a different thing out there. It was pretty fun getting used to it in a short time. I thought for sure we had the car to go through, just didn’t happen. It was kind of a mix of a little bit of everything. Some minor mistakes, just hit the limiter on some up shifts. I think when you have four-thousandths to get into the Fast Six, those things play in. A little disappointed, but I think honestly in Nashville you can start from 14th and still have a good race. I’m not too worried about it, but obviously I wanted to make the Fast 12.”
“I think the race is going to be a different beast. Obviously, without having a warmup, I think we have a really good balance now. Probably want to keep that for the race. We had no chance to practice with how it’s going to be with high fuel, so a little bit of a guessing game. My team is pretty good at guessing right, so I have great confidence we will have a great race car tomorrow.”
Alexander Rossi, No. 7 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
”It was a wild day. We didn’t go out for Practice 2. It was one of our better street-course qualifyings, but we still have a decent gap to find to get to the top six. We’ll keep chipping at it; we’ve learned some good things and we have lots to play for tomorrow.”
Gavin Ward, Race Director at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“Front row start for Pato (O’Ward) is great. You always want the pole, but the front row is a great place to start and we’ll try to keep our nose clean at the start of the race. There’s a little more work to do for Alexander and Felix starting 10th and 14th, but with the way the race can run here, we have three bullets that can win this thing. We’ll open our options up strategy-wise and see how it goes.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 20 Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing:
“I can’t really explain how we ended the day. We were competitive in Practice 1 and 7th this morning in Practice 2, but in qualifying we weren’t even in the ballpark. We’ll have to go back and look at everything to try and get an understanding of why. This is a first in my career and unfortunately I don’t have answers right now. We’ll have to look at it and hopefully make this better for tomorrow.”
Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing:
“That was a pretty disappointing qualifying session. I had felt pretty racy, especially this morning in practice in the rain, but we just didn’t have it in qualifying. We will work hard overnight to come back with a good racecar for tomorrow.”
Callum Ilott, No. 77 Chevrolet at Juncos Hollinger Racing:
“Overall, not too bad. I think ninth in our group. We were strong, just a super tough group. Lots of good teams within that group, so it was going to be a tough one. Starting 18th tomorrow. We’ll see what happens. So far, it’s been a bit of a tough Nashville weekend with the weather and not getting much running in, so it’s been hard to develop on anything. Obviously, similar to other people but we want to keep striving forward. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Agustin Canapino, No. 78 Chevrolet at Juncos Hollinger Racing:
“We will start 23rd tomorrow in the race. Of course we want more. Honestly, I didn’t feel the car really today and yesterday in the dry conditions. We tried something different on the car, and it’s not working at the moment. In the rain, the car was really good. We ended up P10 in practice. I think the car was really strong, but for some reason, it’s not enough for dry. Tomorrow, I will try to have a good race and take some points.”
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet, and PATO O’WARD, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren INDYCAR Chevrolet – End of Day Press Conference:
THE MODERATOR: Wrapping up qualifying for tomorrow’s race here on the straights of Nashville. Joined now by the pole winner for tomorrow’s race, Scott McLaughlin. Back-to-back pole positions here in Nashville.
Also joining us, Pato O’Ward. It is an all-Chevrolet front row for tomorrow’s race.
Scott, we’ll begin with you. Tell us about your qualifying run. How satisfying?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Really satisfying because it all started in Q1 for us. Pumped a decent lap out there. 6/10ths better than P2. We were able to do one lap on our greens. Bolted those on for Q3. I just had to make sure we got to the Fast Six, which we did. Every lap in quallie, nailed it pretty good. A really satisfying qualifying session, probably the best of my INDYCAR career, to be honest.
THE MODERATOR: You take a look at the gap between you and Pato and the rest of the field. The last lap was huge.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: That was the money one, really nice, juicy. I’m really happy with that.
Yeah, look, honestly, same car as what we ran last year. It’s just been unreal. The Chevy has been awesome. Been a lot of gains everywhere. I think we’ve made improvements.
Overall just to come here with the same philosophy, just nail laps, it’s a good feeling, especially with the interruptions between sessions. I actually wanted it to rain. I was excited with the rain. The rain was a lot of fun this morning, had a blast. Learn a ton every time I’m in the rain.
Nice to be fast in the wet and dry.
THE MODERATOR: Pato, good momentum heading into tomorrow’s race for you. Your thoughts?
PATO O’WARD: Yeah, congrats, Scott. I don’t think I had 3/10ths in there to get a little closer. Maybe one. Pretty stellar lap.
I was super happy with my car. I think we were really strong in Q2. I thought it would be a couple 10ths slower in Q3 because it’s not new alternate.
I’ve never won from pole, so I’m not angry I’m starting second (smiling).
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I have (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Maybe bodes well for tomorrow. Who knows.
We’ll begin with questions.
Q. Last year’s race here, is that one you feel like kind of got away from you?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Yeah. The final stint there, we were 15th. Managed to lose by a nose. There’s a lot went on. Our car was phenomenal. I feel like it’s just as good this year. Just a matter of… I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. You can’t even plan really. Guy won last year doing six stops.
You just got to play it on the run and try and do the best job, execute every lap that I can. Pit stops need to be good. Yeah, the reason we were back there last year was a bad pit stop. That was an unfortunate thing that doesn’t really happen on my car.
Yeah, I’m super pumped for tomorrow to see what we got.
Q. Colton (Herta) said when you’re fast here, you’re waiting for something to go wrong. Did you feel that way last year?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I mean, you’re just waiting for the yellow light to flash up on your dash or something like that. You can’t control anything like that. It’s a matter of me controlling what I can control, execute.
I feel like I’ve done that all weekend. It’s just a matter of executing for tomorrow’s race.
Q. Pato, even though Scott dominated, maybe it’s not a race where you want to be up front because…
PATO O’WARD: Everything can happen here, as we’ve seen in ’21. The first car that was in the air won (laughter). Yeah, will it be as chaotic tomorrow? I don’t know. That’s what we thought in ’22. It was worse, so… Maybe tomorrow it’s the same. Worse, better, I don’t know.
If it rains, it will make things interesting.
Q. How do you strategize?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I just think you don’t. You have a plan, but you don’t.
PATO O’WARD: That goes out the window after the first stint.
Q. Do you make a backup plan?
PATO O’WARD: You have like 10 plans.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Plans just happen.
PATO O’WARD: One falls, it’s like we’re going to plan F.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I was on numbers last year, plan Z1.
Q. Do you feel like you waste time in strategy meetings?
PATO O’WARD: You don’t really plan it out. We’re going into the race like this, and then let’s see where we get guided, pretty much.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: See what our destiny holds. Yeah, it was just a big word ‘destiny’.
No, I think we’ll just play it as it goes. I think me and Pato will get a strong start, get away from everyone, fight for the win.
Q. Scott, was there any additional emphasis placed on qualifying for this race, second place, second place, second place?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: No. Every qualifying we go into, we want a pole. That’s how it is. It’s INDYCAR. It’s just so hard to nail it. That’s why it feels good when you have the margin.
Everybody is so bloody good now. It’s just a matter of putting it together. I still think a front row start is still bloody good. Getting in the Fast Six is tough these days. You can miss it by half a 10th.
No emphasis every week. You just want it more when you miss out on it a lot.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: DEX Imaging, who sell printers and copiers. I just started calling it the Printer Wagon. I call the Good Ranch Chevy the Meat Wagon. Every car I’m just going to name. Pennzoil is the Oil Wagon. We’ll move on from there.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but I don’t drive that. It’s like a horse and cart.
Q. Scott, for Team Penske to get a road course pole, how important is that?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: It’s a street course.
Q. Street course, road course.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I’m joking. I’m giving you s*** (smiling).
No, look, I’m really stoked. We were dry all year. Qualifying is a really strong suit now.
PATO O’WARD: Are you wet now?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: What?
PATO O’WARD: You said you were dry all year. Are you wet (smiling)?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: You should see. I’m sweating through my suit.
We went through a bit of a dry spell there. It was nice, three in a row now. Yeah, that’s a good thing. I’m really happy for (indiscernible) that drives the uppy one. He puts stickers on the truck. He gets three stickers now, which is fantastic.
Q. Practice was in the wet. Only 30 minutes. There’s no warm-up. Is that just going to make this race even more of a crapshoot? Is this a better way of going into it?
PATO O’WARD: We’ve been dry the past few years. It’s crash-ville so…
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I think just press on. We’ll be all right.
PATO O’WARD: Maybe we’re full green.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I don’t want anyone doing any more laps.
Q. Scott, SVG said apparently in the last few days he’s going to be leaving Supercars in Australia and coming to NASCAR part-time next year. How nice is to it have him coming over?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I think he’s been talking to me a little bit about what it’s like to live here, stuff like that. I don’t know if it’s official yet. I think his intention is that, if it all happens.
But, yeah, look, it’s awesome. I think I’ve said a number of times what I think he did at Chicago was awesome, awesome for New Zealand motorsport. For him to be here, I’m very excited for him. Four years ago, we were banging doors in Supercars. It’s crazy. Now we’ve both had a win in America, which is awesome.
Yeah, it’s going to be cool to race on the same weekend. Brodie Kostecki from Australia is here as well. Going to be cool. Looking forward to it.
I’m going to go home and watch it from my couch on Sunday.
Q. You can go to the Truck race Friday night.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I probably will go to that. Yeah, I will go to that. That’s actually a good point. I just forgot about that.
Q. You don’t have a warm-up session. How do you evaluate the green tires?
PATO O’WARD: You don’t. You just pick a tire, don’t abuse it too much, I guess, yeah.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I agree.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I believe so, yes. I think both compounds were the same.
Q. The grip between practice Friday and now after qualifying?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I was surprised how much grip we had from qualifying to start with. Practice one, it was okay. I actually feel like the grip overall for the track, there’s a few changes on the track, but it actually feels really quick.
Yeah, I think in addition to that is tires we run on are a little softer this year. Absolutely, I think the evolution has probably been a bit slower due to the rain, but faster I guess in my thoughts than it would. Sometimes when it rains, you wash off a lot more rubber than it usually does, so I was very surprised.
Q. I’m interested to know, during the practice session this morning, was it mandated that you ran the new rain deflector bodywork?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I’m not sure if it was on or not. Just sort of hopped in and got going. I didn’t really look at that.
I mean, I was very impressed with the tire, to be honest. Like, I felt like I had a lot of grip. For those conditions, I think it was absolute perfect conditions for our tire before we stopped, there was a lot of water on the track.
The deflector, I’m not sure. The visibility is what I would expect if we had that much rain on the track. But, yeah, I can’t comment on that hundred percent.
Q. There is the possibility it could rain again tomorrow. Is there a lot of road markings on the course in terms of paint that come into play or are you clear of that most of the time?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: It’s not too bad. There’s a couple pedestrian crossings, some lines going down to turn four. The grip was there when we went across those.
Yeah, like I said, I was pleasantly surprised with the overall grip of the track. They weren’t really too much of an issue.