Herta tops opening practice for Music City GP

Jake Galstad/Lumen Digital Agency

Herta tops opening practice for Music City GP

IndyCar

Herta tops opening practice for Music City GP

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A wild opening session at the brand new Nashville street circuit featured giant bumps creating quick airborne moments on the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, a pair of crashes leading onto and coming off the bridge, and Hondas loading the top six spots by the end of the 75-minute adventure.

On the performance side of practice, Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta was a rocket with a lap of 1m16.5875s around the 2.2-mile street circuit in the No. 26 Honda. Herta was one of many drivers to bolt new Firestone primary tires on near the end of the session. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon went to second in the No. 9 Honda (+0.3778s), which demonstrated how far Herta’s lap fell in relation to the rest of the field.

“It’s difficult with the bumps going over the bridge,” Herta said. “We came here with a really good package. It’s going to be an awesome weekend, and what a great start.”

Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s Romain Grosjean was third in the No. 51 Honda (+0.5430s), Andretti’s resurgent Alexander Rossi was fourth in the No. 27 Honda (+0.5867s), with the Ganassi duo of Marcus Ericsson in the No. 8 Honda (+0.6293s) and Alex Palou in the No. 10 Honda (+0.6389s) rounding out the top six. Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist was a welcome seventh to lead the Chevy brigade in the No. 7 entry with an identical lap to Palou (+0.6389s), who posted the time first in the No. 10 car.

Early and late crashes brought a halt to the session, with the first belonging to AMSP’s Pato O’Ward, who clipped the inside barrier with his right-front wheel while powering onto the bridge. The contact fired the car towards the left of the circuit where the left-front and left-rear suspension assemblies were broken. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly was next, which ended the session with four minutes left on the clock, as he locked the rear wheel under braking while trying to shed speed on his return to the city, and slid sideways into the tire barrier with the right side of the car.

Both drivers were uninjured.

TAKEAWAYS 

Fastest Driver: Colton Herta, 1m16.5875s

Slowest Driver: Cody Ware, 1m24.0628s, +7.4393s

Most Laps Turned: 30, Will Power

Notable Mentions:

  • From the first flying lap of note by Graham Rahal to Herta’s best to close the session, an improvement of 5.9489s was made during FP1.
  • Decent session for Team Penske with Will Power, Scott McLaughlin, and Simon Pagenaud claiming P8-10, but odd for the celebrated hometown product Josef Newgarden to be at the bottom of the Penske quartet in P12.
  • Yet another distant start to an event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, and Santino Ferrucci holding P14, P17, and P25, respectively. Sato’s session was notable for catching decent air off of one of the bridge transitions and the tinting on the inside of his aeroscreen delaminating and flying in his face before it could be torn away and tossed out the top of the cockpit.
  • Mixed fortunes for the A.J. Foyt Racing team as Sebastien Bourdais was a decent P15, but teammate Dalton Kellett turned an installation lap and nothing more as a wiring problem kept the No. 4 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevy silent for the rest of FP1.

RESULTS

Up Next: Practice 2, 1 p.m. ET, on Peacock

AS IT HAPPENED 

The 75-minute session saw 26 of the 27 cars head out a little late—at 3:18 p.m. CT–as oil dry from another series needed to be cleared, and performed installation laps. Most chose to sit on pit lane through the first 10 minutes, and as the clock wound down to 65 minutes remaining, about half the drivers turned their formative tours, with Graham Rahal going fastest at 1m22.5364s.

With 62 minutes to go, Colton Herta took the top spot with a 1m20.3659s, and moments later, Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi went P1 with a 1m20.1285s. At 60 minutes, Sebastien Bourdais claimed P1 with a 1m19.9344s, and it lasted for a few seconds before Herta reclaimed P1 with a 1m19.9344.

Lap times continued to drop as rubber went down and confidence rose with Rahal’s 1m19.2316s. Rossi took the new best to a 1m18.8551s at the 58-minute mark. A few minutes later, Herta dropped it to 1m18.2899s.

The first red flag flew with 53 minutes to go after Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward clipped the inside wall leading onto the bridge with his right-front wheel and slammed the outside wall hard with the left-front wheel, which broke the suspension on the No. 5 Chevy. O’Ward held the second-fastest lap of the session at time with a 1m18.6224s.

The green returned with 45 minutes left to run. At 40 minutes, Scott McLaughlin shot to P2 with a 1m18.6125s, and at 38 minutes, Bourdais ran long and waited to resume lapping while AMSP’s Felix Rosenqvist took control of P1 with the first lap below a 1m18s with a 1m17.9955s. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou followed in P2 with a 1m18.1717s. Romain Grosjean was the next to claim P1 with a 1m17.9511 as the session approached to 32 minutes to go.

Herta went to the top again at 26 minutes with a 1m17.6726s, and as the clock approached 15 minutes remaining, McLaughlin leapt to P2 with a 1m17.7952s. Scott Dixon took P2 from his fellow Kiwi with a 1m17.3603 on a new-tire run, and with 11 minutes to run, Dixon’s teammate Alex Palou went P1 on new tires with a 1m17.2264s.

Herta spoiled the CGR party a few seconds later to capture P1 with a 1m17.0038s as the new-tire runs were on display. Rossi followed in P2 with a 1m17.1742s. Herta lowered the bar again on the next lap with a 1m16.5875.

The session went red with four minutes to go as Conor Daly slammed the barrier hard coming off the return bridge as he locked the rear wheels on the No. 20 Chevy and went into the tires with the right side of the car. He climbed from the car under his own power and appeared to be uninjured.

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