INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Aug. 13, 2021) – U.S. Olympic Diving team member and Olympic silver medalist Andrew Capobianco will ride in the Ruoff Mortgage Fastest Seat in Sports ahead of this Saturday’s Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Capobianco, a seven-time All-American as part of the Indiana University diving team, will help lead the NTT INDYCAR SERIES field of drivers to the green flag riding with racing legend Mario Andretti.
“We’re so proud of Andrew and all of our amazing Team USA Olympians not only for their tremendous athletic accomplishments but also for the amazing sportsmanship and grace under pressure they displayed while representing our country,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said. “Andrew’s awesome summer is going to continue with the ride of a lifetime at this weekend’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES race, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate an Olympic medal.”
The Ruoff Fastest Seat in Sports helps lead the stars of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to the green flag across the race season. Often driven by Andretti, with a celebrity, athlete or social media influencer in the passenger seat, the experience represents perhaps the most daring and extraordinary pre-race element in all of motorsports.
Capobianco won a silver medal in the men’s synchro 3-meter diving competition at the recent Tokyo Olympics with partner Michael Hixon. He is a native of Holly Springs, North Carolina, and resides in Bloomington, Indiana.
“I’m incredibly excited to represent Team USA at the Racing Capital of the World,” Capobianco said. “I’m ready to dive into a new sport this weekend and definitely looking forward to meeting the competitors and experiencing the high-speeds and g-forces of an actual INDYCAR SERIES car.”
The Ruoff Fastest Seat in Sports has a long history of attracting star power from the worlds of sports, TV, movies, music and social media. Recent participants include NFL All-Pro Julian Edelman, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, EDM mega-star Zedd, social influencer and “TODAY” contributor Dr. Mike and more.
Viewers can tune in to the Big Machine Spikes Coolers Grand Prix at 12:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Aug. 14 on NBCSN.
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021) – The largest NTT INDYCAR SERIES field in a decade – for a race other than the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge – will assemble this weekend, appropriately at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix, the 12th race of the INDYCAR season and the first paired with NASCAR’s top two divisions exclusively on the Speedway’s road course, will feature 28 car-and-driver combinations, the most outside of the Indy 500 since 2011. Heading the list of competitors is Helio Castroneves, who became the fourth driver in history to win the “500” for a fourth time during the most recent race at IMS.
The large field reflects the growing interest in the series, which last week staged its inaugural race on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. NBCSN had the largest television audience for an INDYCAR race on cable in 23 years, with more than 1.2 M viewers.
The race here on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit features six former INDYCAR champions, seven Indianapolis 500 winners, 17 drivers who have won INDYCAR races, and a season-high six rookie drivers.One of those rookies is RC Enerson, who will hope to give Top Gun Racing its first series start with the No. 75 Chevrolet. Formula 2 race winner Christian Lundgaard will make his series debut in the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan. Cody Ware is back for his third INDYCAR race in the No. 52 Nurtec ODT Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR.
And, of course, there’s Jimmie Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion in his first season with Chip Ganassi Racing. With stock car racing in town for the IMS tripleheader, more eyes than ever will be fixed on the No. 48 Carvana Honda.Unlike the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, won by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson, most of the INDYCAR drivers are familiar with this circuit as it will be the 11th race held on it since 2014. Saturday’s 85-lap race will be the fifth held on the IMS road course in the past 14 months.
Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing earned his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory in the most recent race, the GMR Grand Prix on May 15.INDYCAR practice begins at 3 p.m. (ET) Friday, with live coverage of the hour-long session on Peacock Premium, NBC Sports’ streaming service. Qualifying is set for 7 p.m. Friday, live on NBCSN. The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix will air on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday.
Here is a look at things to come this weekend:
A Circuit of Champions
Nine of the previous 10 races held on this circuit have been won by drivers who had either won an INDYCAR championship or soon would. Those include four wins by Will Power (No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet), three by Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet) and one each by Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing) and Josef Newgarden (No. 2 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet).
VeeKay, who will drive the No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet, is the lone non-champion to have won one of the non-oval events.Power has easily been the circuit’s most dominant driver, capturing five poles and leading 285 laps. In all, 28 drivers have led laps in these INDYCAR races, with Pagenaud and Dixon tied for the second-most laps led with 68 each.
Newgarden has led 59 laps, VeeKay 48, Castroneves 46, rookie Romain Grosjean (No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR) 44 and Graham Rahal (No. 15 One Cure Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) 41.
The Most Recent Race
To preview a sporting event, it’s helpful to review the most recent outing at the same venue, which leads to examining the GMR Grand Prix in May.
Grosjean won the NTT P1 Award and led the first 24 laps. The INDYCAR rookie might have won for the first time in the series – he led a race-high 44 laps – if not for the second-half surge of VeeKay.VeeKay grabbed his first lead on Lap 48 and led 33 of the final 38 laps to score a 4.951-second victory. Grosjean was second, followed by Alex Palou (No. 10 NTT DATA Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing).
Newgarden finished fourth, with Rahal fifth. Like the Team Penske drivers and Dixon, Rahal has been historically good on this road course, posting top-10 finishes in each of the past nine races, with a pair of second-place finishes and six races led.
His average finish is 7.2, and that includes an incident in the 2014 race that forced him to finish 21st.
The Championship Pursuit
The 1-2 finish in Nashville by teammates Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda) and Dixon increased the chances of one of Chip Ganassi’s drivers securing the organization’s 14th INDYCAR championship. With five races to go, Palou leads the standings with Dixon second and Ericsson fifth.
Palou finished seventh last weekend, but he only lost ground to his teammates. Palou still has the equivalent of nearly a full-race lead on Dixon – the advantage is 42 points – with Pato O’Ward’s 13th-place finish dropping him to third, 48 points out of the lead. Newgarden is fourth, but his 10th-place finish pushed him to 75 points in arrears of Palou. Ericsson is likely the only other driver who can overtake Palou; their separation is 79 points.
Dixon is the only driver among the top three to have won at any of the remaining five venues. In addition to the IMS road course, six-time series champion Dixon won last year at World Wide Technology Raceway, and he won the 2015 street race in Long Beach, California. Newgarden has won twice at Gateway (2017, 2020) and once on the IMS road course (2020).
None of the leading title contenders has won at Portland International Raceway or WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Palou hasn’t even raced at any of the final three venues (Portland, Laguna Seca or Long Beach).
2020 race winners (Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader): Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)
2020 NTT P1 Award winners (Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader): Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet), 1:09.6903, 125.992 mph; Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 1:08.9767, 127.295 mph.
Qualifying lap record: Will Power, 1:07.7044, 129.687 mph, May 12, 2017 (Set in Round 3 of knockout qualifying)
NBCSN telecasts: Qualifying, 7 p.m. ET Friday, NBCSN (live) and Peacock Premium; Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN (live). Leigh Diffey is the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Kevin Lee and Marty Snider will be the pit reporters.
Peacock Premium Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.
INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Chris Denari, Jake Query, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young are the turn announcers. Brad Gillie, Brett McMillan and Ryan Myrehn will report from the pits. The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 138 and Sirius XM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, Aug. 13 (All times are local)
3-4 p.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, Peacock Premium
7-7:50 p.m.: Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (two rounds knockout qualifications/10 minutes each), NBCSN and Peacock Premium (Live)
Saturday, Aug. 14
8:45-9:15 a.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium
12:30 p.m.: NBCSN on air
12:55 p.m.: “Drivers, start your engines”
1 p.m.: Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix (85 laps/207.3 miles), NBCSN (Live)
Alex Palou leads the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with five races to go for the first time in his INDYCAR SERIES career. Palou has led the point standings after seven of the 11 races this season.
Since the first INDYCAR SERIES race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in 2014, the winning driver has won the INDYCAR SERIES championship twice: Simon Pagenaud in 2016 and Scott Dixon (2020-Race 1).
Key championship point statistic: Since 2008, the championship leader with five races to go has gone on to win the championship seven times. Those drivers were: Scott Dixon (2008, 2018 and 2020), Dario Franchitti (2011), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Josef Newgarden (2019).
Point differential: The 42 points that separate Alex Palou and Scott Dixon is the seventh-closest point margin since 2008. Entering this season, the average lead with five races to go since 2008 was 43.9 points.
CHAMPIONSHIP WITH 5 TO GO
Eventual Champion(Deficit- if any)
Dario Franchitti (-11)
Juan Pablo Montoya
Scott Dixon (-49)
Josef Newgarden (-23)
There have been eight different winners in 11 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Alex Palou (Barber Motorsports Park, Road America), Colton Herta (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Texas Motor Speedway-1), Pato O’Ward (Texas Motor Speedway-2, Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2), Rinus VeeKay (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-1), Helio Castroneves (Indianapolis 500), Marcus Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1, Streets of Nashville) and Josef Newgarden (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) have all won in 2021. The modern record (1946-present) for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014.
There have been eight different winners in the last 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races (Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Scott Dixon, Pato O’Ward, Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves, Marcus Ericsson and Josef Newgarden) The only repeat winners in that stretch are O’Ward (Texas-2 and Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2) and Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1 and Streets of Nashville)
The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix will be the 11th INDYCAR SERIES event conducted on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Rinus VeeKay are the only drivers to win on the IMS road course. Pagenaud won the GMR Grand Prix in 2014, 2016 and 2019, Power won the GMR Grand Prix in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and the second race of the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader in 2020. Dixon won the 2020 GMR Grand Prix, Newgarden won the first race of the 2020 Harvest GP doubleheader and VeeKay won the GMR Grand Prix in May.
The 28 cars entered in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix is the largest field of cars entered in a non-Indianapolis 500 INDYCAR SERIES race since 29 cars started at Kentucky Speedway in 2011.
Romain Grosjean, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Felix Rosenqvist and Sebastian Saavedra have won the pole position in the GMR Grand Prix. Saavedra claimed the pole in 2014, Power in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2020, Pagenaud in 2016, Rosenqvist in 2019 and Grosjean in May of this year. Power and Rinus VeeKay won the NTT P1 Award in the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader last October.
Four NTT P1 Award winners have won the GMR Grand Prix from the pole: Will Power in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and Simon Pagenaud in 2016. Power also won the second Harvest GP race from pole in 2020.
Eight drivers have competed in every INDYCAR SERIES race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato. All are entered this weekend.
Scott Dixon has finished first or second in four of his last seven starts on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Six rookies — RC Enerson, Romain Grosjean, Jimmie Johnson, Christian Lundgaard, Scott McLaughlin and Cody Ware — are entered this weekend. Enerson will be making his first start of 2021, while Lundgaard will be making his INDYCAR SERIES debut. Ware will be attempting to compete in both the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on Saturday and NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday.
Twenty-five of the 28 drivers entered in the event have competed in INDYCAR SERIES races on the IMS road course. Fifteen entered drivers have led laps in INDYCAR SERIES races: Will Power 285, Scott Dixon 69, Simon Pagenaud 68, Josef Newgarden 59, Rinus VeeKay 48, Romain Grosjean 44, Graham Rahal 41, Colton Herta 29, Ryan Hunter-Reay 22, Felix Rosenqvist 16, James Hinchcliffe 4, Alexander Rossi 2, Marcus Ericsson 1, Jack Harvey 1and Alex Palou 1.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021) – Five laps into the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, Marcus Ericsson’s car launched airborne and limped to the pits with a broken front wing.
Seventy-five laps later, he drove the No. 8 Bryant Honda into victory lane Sunday as the winner of the inaugural NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee, in one of the most improbable results in recent memory.
Ericsson beat Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon to the finish by 1.5596 seconds in a two-lap showdown after a red flag to earn his second victory this season. Ericsson’s amazing drive to the front came after he hit the rear of Sebastien Bourdais’ No. 14 ROKiT/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet on a restart on Lap 5, dislodging the front wing of his car and incurring a stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact.
The late red flag came when NTT P1 Award winner Colton Herta crashed heavily in Turn 9 with five laps to go while running second and chasing Ericsson for the lead.
“It’s unbelievable,” Ericsson said. “It just shows in INDYCAR anything can happen. You can never give up. And if you have a good team and a good car, you can still get to victory lane.
“I can’t believe it; I just can’t believe it.”
James Hinchcliffe finished third in the No. 29 #ShiftToGreen Honda for his best result of the season for Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport. His previous best in 2021 was 14th in June at Belle Isle-2. Ryan Hunter-Reay finished fourth in the No. 28 DHL Honda as Andretti Autosport put two cars in the top five for the first time this season.
While Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay didn’t have quite the dramatic early laps of the race as Ericsson, both were forced to stop on track when the track was blocked by a multicar incident on Lap 20 that forced the first of two red flags in the 80-lap race. Yet they also rallied to drive into the top four.
Graham Rahal, who was quickest in the race warmup today, rounded out the top five in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda. Like Hinchcliffe, Ed Jones produced his best drive of the season, finishing sixth after starting 26th in the 27-car field in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda. Jones’ previous best result in 2021 was ninth in June at Belle Isle-1.
Alex Palou expanded his championship lead by finishing seventh in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda. He leads Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and six-time and reigning series champion Dixon by 42 points, as Dixon leap-frogged Pato O’Ward into second with his best result in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda since winning Texas-1 in early May.
O’Ward finished 13th in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet – his worst result since the Indianapolis road course race in early May – and fell to third in points, 48 behind Palou.
Ericsson, whose previous win came in June at Belle Isle-1, is fifth in the points, 79 behind Palou. He is just four points behind fourth-place Josef Newgarden, who finished 10th today at his hometown race in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.
The race unfolded into a head-to-head duel between Ericsson and Herta over the closing 20 laps after a chaotic opening 60 laps that included seven caution periods.
Ericsson made his final pit stop on Lap 46 and was forced to save fuel and nurse the initially grippier but less durable Firestone alternate “red” tires over the closing laps. Herta made his final stop on Lap 53 for the more durable Firestone primary “black” tires, so he had no fuel concerns to the finish.
But Herta never got a chance to challenge Formula One veteran Ericsson for the lead after he locked up his tires while slowing for Turn 9 after exiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge on Lap 75, hitting the tire barrier hard. Herta was quickest in every pre-race session this weekend on the 11-turn, 2.17-mile street course except for the morning warmup.
“Colton was so fast, as we saw all weekend, so to keep him behind with a lot of fuel save was one of the best performances of my career,” Ericsson said. “I’m sorry he ended up in the fence there. He should be on this podium with us.”
Eight caution periods in the first 60 laps jumbled strategies and kept engineers and strategists on the pit wall almost as busy as drivers on the bumpy circuit that includes two trips across the Cumberland River each lap.
Ericsson was in the pits seven times during the race, three more than fellow podium finishers Dixon and Hinchcliffe, due to damage from his early incident with Bourdais and to serve the stop-and-go penalty he was assessed for avoidable contact in that collision. Ericsson drove up the back of Bourdais’ car, launching his front end into the air, on a restart on Lap 5.
“I want to apologize to Seb there at the start,” Ericsson said. “It was an accident. I thought it was green, and I went, and I couldn’t see that he stopped, so I’m really sorry for that.”
But Ericsson’s Chip Ganassi Racing team – led by strategist Mike O’Gara – made all the right calls on pit stops, and he first took the lead on Lap 33 and then again for good on Lap 56 when Romain Grosjean pitted in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda. Ericsson led 37 laps for the day, two fewer than Herta.
Herta also caught a timely break during his first pit stop on Lap 33, during a caution period triggered by tire barrier contact in Turn 1 by the No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet of Rinus VeeKay. It appeared Herta would return to about the middle of the field for the ensuing restart, as a handful of cars had made pit stops during the numerous cautions earlier in the race.
But the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car had to slow approaching the VeeKay accident area, as there was only one lane open on track since the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team was still clearing VeeKay’s car from the track. That allowed Herta to re-enter the track in fourth place behind leader Ericsson, Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe.
The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix on Saturday, Aug. 14 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Practice and qualifying are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 13 on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.
Jaw-Dropping Lap Delivers NTT P1 Award to Herta in Nashville
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021) – Mouths were agape and heads were being scratched on pit lane after Colton Herta won the NTT P1 Award on Saturday for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.
Herta also earned the Bryan Clauson Pole Trophy for his second pole of the season in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, pacing the field by nearly six-tenths of a second with his top lap of 1 minute, 13.6835 seconds. Herta led both practices on the 11-turn, 2.17-mile street circuit before qualifying.
California native Herta set the table for his sizzling lap in the Firestone Fast Six during the first segment of qualifying, when he didn’t use a set of the Firestone alternate “red” tires to advance into the second segment with the second-quickest time in his group, just behind Scott Dixon. That allowed Herta to save an extra set of alternate tires for the Firestone Fast Six, and he used them to devastating effect.
“It was a good lap, but what we did in Q1 really helped us there, with being able to transfer on the black tires,” Herta said. “That was the biggest thing. Being fast on the blacks made it just a lot easier for the rest of the way. Great job by everybody.
“The car is fantastic, as you can see what we were able to do on the black (primary tire) laps compared to everybody. We were really in a league of our own. It felt amazing. Good car to take into the race tomorrow, too. Nice and stable.”
The 80-lap race starts at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday, live on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Herta earned his sixth career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole and second this season. And this statistic should send chills down his rivals’ spines: Herta has converted his last three NTT P1 Awards into victories, including a win April 25 in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Six-time and defending series champion Dixon qualified second at 1:14.2327 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda, joining Herta on the front row. That was a solid comeback for Dixon, who admitted he was a bit spooked early in qualifying after spinning twice in the morning practice on the challenging street circuit.
“It kind of sits in the back of your head,” Dixon said. “In the first two rounds of qualifying, I was taking it a little bit cautious and made sure we converted. I knew the PNC Bank No. 9 was super fast.
“We knew Herta was going to be fast (in the Fast Six) because he was the only guy with new tires. But he’s been quick all weekend, so he definitely deserved that. So, kudos to their group, and we’ll see how tomorrow plays out. Starting on the front row is fantastic.”
The gap of .5492 of a second between Herta and Dixon was the largest between the top two qualifiers in an NTT INDYCAR SERIES road or street course race this season, easily besting the margin of .3206 between pole winner Josef Newgarden and Herta for the second race at Belle Isle in Detroit.
Series leader Alex Palou qualified third at 1:14.6316 at Nashville in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda, but he will start ninth due to a six-spot starting grid penalty for an unapproved engine change after testing last month. 2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Alexander Rossi qualified fourth at 1:14.6646 as one of two Andretti Autosport cars in the top four in a resurgent weekend for the team.
Felix Rosenqvist also continued a strong weekend by qualifying fifth at 1:15.0045 in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, while rookie Romain Grosjean rounded out the top six in qualifying at 1:15.3980 in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda.
The complex nature of this new circuit, which includes two crossings of the Cumberland River per lap over the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, will force nearly every team into pondering various strategies and tire choices this evening. Dixon, though, already has simplified his approach to the race.
“Go fast, take chances,” Dixon said.
That also probably may be the mantra for championship contender Pato O’Ward, who is second in the series standings, 39 points behind Palou. He qualified ninth in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
The first two segments of qualifying featured plenty of drama.
Two-time series champion Newgarden, a Nashville native and resident, appeared to be poised to advance to the Firestone Fast Six when he clouted the Turn 11 wall with his No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet with moments left in the second segment.
The wreck caused heavy damage to the right front and moderate damage to the right side and right rear of Newgarden’s car, and he lost his quickest lap due to causing a local yellow that affected another competitor and dropped out of the Fast Six, elevating Grosjean into the Fast Six. Newgarden will start 12th.
“I was just trying to make up the deficit from yesterday and today,” Newgarden said. “Pretty pumped for tomorrow. Just wish we were a little higher up. Trying to claw some performance there and just overpushed. You can’t wreck and not get penalized. That’s on me. That’s how it works.”
Drivers in the first group of the first segment were forced to hustle to put in a qualifying lap after Jimmie Johnson crashed heavily in Turn 10 in the No. 48 Carvana Honda. The other 12 drivers in the group had just three minutes, 20 seconds to put in a qualifying lap.
A 30-minute warmup at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday (live, Peacock) will precede the race.
Group 1 27 Rossi, Alexander 10 Palou, Alex 7 Rosenqvist, Felix 5 O’Ward, Pato 3 McLaughlin, Scott 06 Castroneves, Helio 12 Power, Will 15 Rahal, Graham 2 Newgarden, Josef 45 Ferrucci, Santino 48 Johnson, Jimmie 59 Chilton, Max 4 Kellett, Dalton
Group 2 26 Herta, Colton 9 Dixon, Scott 14 Bourdais, Sebastien 8 Ericsson, Marcus 21 VeeKay, Rinus 22 Pagenaud, Simon 60 Harvey, Jack 51 Grosjean, Romain 18 Jones, Ed 29 Hinchcliffe, James 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan 20 Daly, Conor 30 Sato, Takuma 52 Ware, Cody
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Friday, Aug. 6, 2021) – Colton Herta led the opening practice Friday for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville, taming the varied corners and considerable bumps of the challenging street circuit for this new NTT INDYCAR SERIES event.
Herta’s best lap was one minute, 16.5875 seconds in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda around the 11-turn, 2.17-mile temporary street circuit that includes two trips over the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge per lap.
“We’re just getting to grips with the track,” Herta said. “Obviously, we came here with a really good package. We were fast right away, and I felt very comfortable getting up to speed.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking, the first time you have to go flat over the bridge with the bumps because the last thing you want to do is for the car to bottom and you send it into the wall on a straight; you kind of look stupid with that. The simulations we did beforehand were on point for what we expected, and it made my job a lot easier.”
Six-time series champion Scott Dixon was second at 1:16.9653 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda. Rookie Romain Grosjean was third at 1:17.1305 in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda.
2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Alexander Rossi was fourth at 1:17.1742 in the No. 27 AutoNation/NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top five at 1:17.2168 in the No. 8 Bryant Honda.
Honda-powered drivers took the top six spots on the time sheet during the 75-minute session. Series points leader Alex Palou was sixth at 1:17.2264 in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda.
Track action resumes at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday with a 45-minute practice, with NTT P1 Award qualifying following at 4:30 p.m. Both sessions will be live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s streaming service. The 80-lap race starts at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday, live on NBCSN.
The 27-car field – the biggest outside of the Indianapolis 500 in the series since 2013 – took its time getting up to speed on the fascinating new circuit, which includes sweeping corners around the paddock complex, two long straights over the Cumberland River and a tight section in downtown Nashville. But two drivers still had unplanned meetings with concrete retaining walls or tire barriers.
Championship contender Pato O’Ward opened his weekend with a small setback when he crashed in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet 22 minutes into the session. O’Ward’s right front wheel clipped the barrier in Turn 3, which leads to the bridge, which then pitched the car into the barrier on the other side of the circuit.
O’Ward climbed from the car without injury, and the left front wheel/suspension assembly and left front wing suffered moderate damage. O’Ward is second in the series standings, 39 points behind leader Alex Palou.
“I got caught out by the inside wall in Turn 3,” O’Ward said. “I’ll be fine, man. I love this place. What a cool track. The damage doesn’t seem to be too bad. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
The retaining wall also collected Conor Daly with four minutes to go. The rear wheels of Daly’s No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet locked up as he braked for Turn 9 exiting the bridge, and the right side of car slid into the tire barrier. Daly climbed without assistance from the car, which suffered moderate damage.
Big Machine Label Group Artist To Help Celebrate Inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix
INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021) – Country music star and Big Machine Label Group recording artist Danielle Bradbery will provide a fitting kickoff to INDYCAR’s new race on the streets of downtown Nashville, riding in the Ruoff Fastest Seat in Sports at this weekend’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Bradbery, whose latest single “Stop Draggin’ Your Boots” was released just last week, will be driven by legendary racing icon Mario Andretti.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate to do some amazing things in my career but never, in my wildest dreams, would I have ever thought I’d be able to ride with the legend, Mario Andretti,” Bradbery said. “On Sunday, that dream comes true!”
Said Andretti: “Danielle is going to have an epic adventure on Race Day experiencing the speeds and G-forces of a real INDYCAR SERIES car. I’m looking forward to the very first Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville. The drivers and fans are clearly very excited for this new event, which will bring the world-class racing of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to a marquee city that celebrates top entertainment.”
Fine-tuning her unique sound since getting her start winning Season 4 of NBC’s ”The Voice,” Bradbery has earned multiple award nominations and toured across the globe with some of the biggest names in music. With “Stop Draggin’ Your Boots,” Bradbery shows a side of herself fans have never seen before in a fiery coming-of-age declaration. She takes the put-up-or-shut-up honky tonk shuffle one step further with a boot-stompin’ video embodying the song’s feisty message – watch here.Bradbery’s sophomore album, “I Don’t Believe We’ve Met,” infused her story into her songs for the first time, with Bradbery penning seven of the album’s 10 tracks, including “Worth It,” “Potential” and gold-certified “Sway.” Kicking off a new chapter last year, she infused her heartfelt and personal stories into releases “Never Have I Ever” and “Girls In My Hometown .” The powerhouse vocalist continued to broaden her impressive range as she deepened her connection with her Mexican heritage by enlisting Latin Grammy-nominated artist KURT for a Spanish version of “Never Have I Ever” (“Yo Nunca He…”), singing entirely in Spanish for the first time.
The Ruoff Fastest Seat in Sports helps lead the stars of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to the green flag across the race season. Often driven by Andretti, with a celebrity or social media influencer in the passenger seat, the Ruoff Fastest Seat in Sports represents perhaps the most daring and extraordinary pre-race element in all of motorsports.
The Ruoff Fastest Seat in Sports has a long history of attracting star-power from the worlds of sports, TV, movies, music and social media. Recent participants include NFL All-Pro Julian Edelman, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, EDM mega-star Zedd, social influencer and “TODAY” contributor Dr. Mike and more.
Viewers can tune in to the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix at 5:30 p.m. (ET) this Sunday, Aug. 8 on NBCSN.
Push-to-pass parameters: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation.
Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate to be used during the event weekend. One additional set of primary tires may be used by teams fielding a rookie driver. Teams must use one set of primary and one set of new (sticker) alternate tires for at least two laps in the race.
NBCSN telecast: 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday, NBCSN (live). Kevin Lee is the lead announcer for NBC Sports telecasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider and Dave Burns will report from the pit lane.
Peacock Premium Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.
INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analysts Davey Hamilton and Rob Blackman. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Ryan Myrehn and Michael Young in the pit lane. The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 205, Sirius 119, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, Aug. 6
3:10-4:25 p.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice 1, Peacock Premium (live)
Saturday, Aug. 7
Noon-12:45 p.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice 2, Peacock Premium (live)
3:30–4:45 p.m.: Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (Three rounds of knockout qualifying), Peacock Premium (live)
Sunday, Aug. 8
Noon-12:30 p.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES final practice, Peacock Premium (live)
4:30 p.m.: NBCSN on air
4:38 p.m.: “Drivers, start your engines”
4:45 p.m.: Big Machine Music City Grand Prix (80 laps/173.6 miles), NBCSN (Live)
There have been eight different winners in 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Alex Palou (Barber Motorsports Park, Road America), Colton Herta (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Texas Motor Speedway-1), Pato O’Ward (Texas Motor Speedway-2, Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2), Rinus VeeKay (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-1), Helio Castroneves (Indianapolis 500), Marcus Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1) and Josef Newgarden (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) have all won in 2021. The modern record (1946-present) for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014.
There have been eight different winners in the last 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races (Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Scott Dixon, Pato O’Ward, Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves, Marcus Ericsson and Josef Newgarden) The only repeat winners in that stretch are O’Ward (Texas-2, 2021 and Belle Isle-2, 2021) and Palou (Barber 2021 and Road America 2021)
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will compete on the streets of Nashville for the first time using a new street circuit that incorporates some of the city’s most iconic sites. Among the landmarks incorporated into the 2.17-mile, 11-turn track is the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge and the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The race’s start of the race will take place over the bridge’s eastbound lanes between Turns 8 and 9.
Middle Tennessee hosted INDYCAR SERIES racing from 2001-2008 at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee. Scott Dixon, who won three consecutive races at the 1.33-mile oval from 2006-2008, is one of five drivers entered who raced in the most recent Nashville event along with Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Graham Rahal.
The last driver to win an inaugural event was Will Power, who won the Grand Prix of Baltimore in 2011. The last driver to win the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship after winning an inaugural event at a track was Dario Franchitti in 2007. Franchitti is grand marshal for this weekend’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.
The 27 cars entered in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is the most in a non-Indianapolis 500 NTT INDYCAR SERIES race since Long Beach in 2013 when 27 cars started that race.
Key Points: NBC Sports remains exclusive home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis 50013 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races on NBC in 2022; remaining races on USA Network, PeacockPeacock to stream all races; home of qualifying, practice and Indy Lights INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, July 20, 2021) – INDYCAR and NBC Sports today announced a multiyear extension of their…
This content is for 12-Month TSO Subscription members only. Log InRegister