Pruett's cooldown lap: Nashville

Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

Pruett's cooldown lap: Nashville

Insights & Analysis

Pruett's cooldown lap: Nashville

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Cartoon anvil

The dang ACME product just won’t leave Mr. Rossi alone. On target for a podium, O’Ward put in an order for a cartoon anvil and it found the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda with exceptional precision. After thinking it was impossible to happen, Rossi’s rotten luck has somehow gotten worse.

Three cheers for…

Best finish of the year for James Hinchcliffe. Best of the year for Ryan Hunter-Reay. Best of the year for Ed Jones. And best of the year for Felix Rosenqvist. I covered off the first three in separate stories on Monday, so let’s visit with the Arrow McLaren SP driver for a quick moment.

Yes, Rosenqvist lost two positions in the closing laps and saw a sixth turn into an eighth, but he was fast all weekend, legitimately outqualified O’Ward (fourth to eighth), which isn’t something we’re accustomed to happening, and send a reminder that when all goes well, he can lead the team and live in O’Ward’s orbit.

He’s safe and secure with AMSP next year, so let’s hope we see more of his Nashville form to close the season. For where AMSP is going in the future with McLaren buying a majority ownership stake, the last thing they want is a continual gap between its two drivers.

A grand failure

The inaugural Nashville event was full of feel-good stories, but don’t tell that to the fans who paid a handsome sum to sit in some of the grandstands that weren’t completed. Fans reported the track was still being assembled when they arrived on Friday with some grandstands waiting to be built.

While it wasn’t a big inconvenience for some, the promoter’s failure to deliver for those in wheelchairs who’d bought tickets to make use of the small elevator attached to the grandstand is where the mood changes. The long trek in the heat to find alternate viewing options was not appreciated, I’m told. This is what the promoters sent to those who were affected on Friday and Saturday:

We are pleased to inform you that Grandstand 6 has been fully completed and will be open for Sunday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix activities, including the weekend’s marquee NTT IndyCar Series race. On behalf of the promoter team at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, we greatly appreciate your patience with the grandstand construction delays by our vendor and extend our apologies for any inconveniences the relocation to other grandstands may have caused the previous two days.

We also wanted to remind you that the event promoters will be issuing a refund to the primary purchaser for the two of the three days you were moved to another grandstand and did not have the opportunity to enjoy your original seating. Thank you for your understanding and we hope you enjoy today’s inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.

Rossi’s had all manner of bad luck this year, yet still managed to leave Nashville ranked second among the Andretti drivers in the points. Jake Galstad/Lumen Digital Agency

MISC

• Considering how well it worked in Nashville, Bourdais, Grosjean, and Pagenaud better keep their eyes on their mirrors on lap five of Saturday’s Indy GP event. “Hit a Frenchman, Win the Race” might be the new race strategy move after Ericsson’s miraculous result.

• Ericsson’s race engineer awoke Monday morning awoke with a goal of getting the victory lane photo of his driver and team to RACER’s Robin Miller as the No. 8 CGR Honda carried “Get Well, Robin” stickers on both sides of the tub closest to the sidepod radiator inlets. (Does that make Miller the winner of one IndyCar race just like Danica Patrick and Carlos “Grumpy Cat” Huertas?)

• First race of the year where Ferrucci didn’t make his presence felt. An 11th isn’t bad, but the boisterous Connecticut product was unusually muted in the GP.

• The late start of 4:30 local and 5:30 ET was due to two factors: The final tournaments of the Tokyo Olympics being aired on NBC and the NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen wrapping up before handing NBCSN over to IndyCar. And for good measure, IMSA’s tape-delayed race at Road America followed. The downside of the yellow and red flags was felt by fans who drove from Indianapolis or farther who, according to one friend, waited to watch Ericsson climb from his car and celebrate, then jammed across the bridge to get to his car and start the drive home. He expected to arrive at 2:23 a.m. and had work waiting for his arrival at 8 a.m.

• When was the last time a driver completely owned a weekend like Colton Herta, only to have it all go wrong with the checkered flag and a podium — and possibly a win — just moments away? He led 39 of the 80 laps, and it felt like he owned the race, but Ericsson ended up leading 37 laps, which was a lot closer to being an equal split than I expected.

• Another race with promise for Meyer Shank Racing and Jack Harvey after qualifying sixth on Saturday, and another race where it meant nothing on Sunday as they finished 15th. Stranger still, Harvey’s Nashville 15th was his best finish since Texas Round 1 on May 1. That’s eight mystifying races in a row of 15th or worse. I wish I had answer to provide here because and the MSR team are better than their results, but IndyCar doesn’t award points on promise.

• The two-seater Indy car had an unfortunate meeting with the wall on Friday and came back to the paddock with the help of a tow truck. No word on who was in the passenger seat or if they left any deposits in the seat after experiencing the real sensations of lapping in an IndyCar and smashing into a barrier.

• Formula 2 driver Marcus Armstrong was at Nashville.

• Every now and then, a next-generation star like Rinus VeeKay has a weekend where he reminds us that he’s still growing and developing. Add Herta to that list as well.

• Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s Cody Ware was the recipient of a rare in-race disqualification, having been directed to pit lane on lap 72 with the following note posted on timing and scoring: Lap 72 PENALTY – Disqualification, Car 52 – Failure to Participate at Competitive Speed (9.3.1.5). Although Ware’s fastest race lap was only 2.6s shy of the race winner’s best, his pace in the latter stages of the event were 4-5s off of the leader.

• CGR tested cool shirts with success at Portland in 100-degree heat. Dixon reported being cold in the car at the test, but opted not to use the system at Nashville. Ericsson did, and said he absolutely loved the device.

• I’ve learned former Red Bull Formula 1 driver Alex Albon, who we’ve mentioned as a talent of interest in the last two RACER silly season articles, is inbound for Indianapolis and will be onsite for the combo NASCAR/IndyCar road course event in a few days. Intrepid fans might keep an eye out for a lanky England-born Thai entering and exiting a few motor coaches and transporters in the paddock…

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