IndyCar: 4 Takeaways from Nashville’s Music City Grand Prix

IndyCar - Scott Dixon - Nashville
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Like in 2021, the Music City Grand Prix brought havoc, entertainment & a surprise winner to the streets of Nashville.

1 – Dixon Back On Top

The last time the IndyCar Series visited a street course, it was Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon who took the checkered flag. That was in Toronto. This time, in Tennessee’s capital city of Nashville, the Kiwi did it once again, albeit in a less dominant fashion. Dixon hung around the Top 10 for much of Sunday’s action on the Nashville Street Circuit but found good fortune towards the end of the race when a caution on Lap 64 cycled Dixon to the lead.

In those final 16 laps, the six-time IndyCar Series champion was tasked with holding off the likes of Scott McLaughlinChristian Lundgaard, and Alex Palou. In the end, it was Dixon who was able to successfully do so, although it got very close between the Top 2 in the end. According to the IndyStar’s Nathan Brown, the “Scott vs. Scott” (Dixon vs. McLaughlin) race to the line was the fourth-closest road/street course finish in IndyCar Series history. Speaking on what he and his car went through throughout the race, Dixon said “The car was bent and broken…The car just had no grip…”

2 – Cautions Galore

In 2021, during the inaugural running of the Music City Grand Prix, there were nine cautions, which was a source of many fan complaints. While the second edition of the race on Sunday fell shy of 2021’s total, it bested last year on the number of caution laps. Out of the 80 laps run on Sunday, 36 of them were run under yellow, for a rather startling 40% of the race under caution. Among the drivers who failed to finish the race were Romain GrosjeanMarcus Ericsson, and Pato O’Ward.

While Nashville tends to be known for its chicken, it was the post-race social media beef that caught the attention of many IndyCar fans. In a post-race interview, Josef Newgarden simply said “Welcome to IndyCar” when asked about his controversial late-race incident with Romain Grosjean. In a very clear and direct tweet, Grosjean responded with three red-faced emojis on Twitter. Newgarden and Grosjean weren’t the only heated drivers after Sunday’s clash in Nashville. Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward nicknamed Tennessee’s capital city “Crashville” after an early exit stemming from an incident on Lap 25.

3 – Rookies Clash in Nashville

After starting seventh and 16th respectively, it appeared that David Malukas and Kyle Kirkwood were set to have good days in the Music City. Both rookies ran safely inside the Top 10 for a good portion of Sunday’s contest. As Kirkwood was set for his best finish in IndyCar so far, the two came together at Turn 9 with just 16 laps to go.

In a tweet after the race, Malukas summed up all of his thoughts on the incident and race as a whole in three words. “This one hurts,” said the Lithuanian-American driver after his crash with his old Indy Lights rival. The crash didn’t help Malukas in his rookie of the year campaign either, as Christian Lundgaard’s eighth place finish stretched his points lead over Malukas to 41 points going into Gateway.

4 – Championship Standings Close Up

It seems like after every weekend this year’s IndyCar Series championship gets closer and closer between the top five. But after Nashville, there are now seven drivers within 59 points of championship leader Will Power. While Power didn’t impress with an 11th-place finish, he still holds a lead of just six points over Dixon. Previously, it appeared as if the championship would be a three-way battle between Power, Josef Newgarden, and Marcus Ericsson. It still very well could be, but for Dixon, winning two out of the last five races has helped in a big way.

Also on Dixon’s side in this championship fight is experience. In his 21st season in IndyCar, Dixon has been in these kinds of situations more times than any other driver in the field, including current championship leader Will Power. When asked about said championship fight, Dixon said “We’ll see where it goes. It’s going to be tough…”. When you are fighting against another seasoned vet such as Power, it sure will be.

Championship Standings after Nashville

After a wild Nashville, the standings experience yet another shakeup.

  1. Will Power, Team Penske – 450 points
  2. Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing – 444 points
  3. Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing – 438 points
  4. Josef Newgarden, Team Penske – 428 points
  5. Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing – 417 points

Next Race

  • Bommarito Automotive Group 500
  • Saturday, August 20th – 6 p.m. EST on USA
  • World Wide Technology Raceway – Madison, Illinois
  • 2021 Winner: Josef Newgarden

Read On: Formula E: A Day At The London E-Prix

Featured Image Credit: James Black / Penske Entertainment