IndyCar drivers have no set game plan for ‘crazy’ Nashville GP

STREETS OF NASHVILLE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - AUGUST 04: #26: Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda at Streets of Nashville on Friday August 04, 2023 in Nashville, United States of America. (Photo by LAT Images)
STREETS OF NASHVILLE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - AUGUST 04: #26: Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda at Streets of Nashville on Friday August 04, 2023 in Nashville, United States of America. (Photo by LAT Images)

Will Power and Colton Herta suggest there’s little point in making detailed tactical plans for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, given the number of cautions expected.

There were nine caution periods and two red flags in the inaugural race on the 2.1-mile course in 2021, while last year’s edition was interrupted by eight cautions.

Team Penske’s Will Power, who topped opening practice Friday afternoon, was asked what it was like to try and come up with a game plan for the event.

“You can’t,” he responded. “There’s really nothing you can do. It’s luck of the draw…when it’s that crazy. You could try to play it safe. You could start last and win it maybe… Maybe it goes completely normal. I thought that’s what would happen last year; just didn’t. Surprised me…

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“You would expect there’s going to be a yellow. Just expect it. I mean, it’s unfortunate if you’re leading, but just know that’s going to be the deal. If it goes full course [yellow], we’ve got a good pit box.”

Herta was sixth fastest Friday, quickest of the Andretti Autosport Honda contingent. He started the 2021 Nashville race from pole but the cautions kept wrong-footing him, and although he still climbed to second, he crashed trying to hunt down leader Marcus Ericsson. Last year, by contrast, his error came in qualifying and he climbed from 23rd to finish fifth.

“It seems like the fastest way to win this race is crash your car in the first lap, do six pit stops, then pit with six to go and stay out,” joked Herta, recalling Ericsson’s bizarre run to victory in ’21. “I don’t know. It’s a crazy one. Obviously it’s very different to any other race that we go to.

“We always plan for the most normal race possible, then obviously strategies change. In this one, they really change. It’s hard to know what a good strategy and bad strategy is depending on what’s happening. I’m hoping this new restart zone [200 feet from the exit of Turn 9] fixes a lot of the problems we’ve had in the past and it’s a little bit more of a normal race.

“You don’t want a full green flag race because that makes it stale for the racing, but we definitely want to do better than eight or nine cautions that it has been the last few years.”


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