Pato O’Ward, who is second in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES standings, will have some ground to catch up on Saturday after damaging his No.5 Chevrolet McLaren SP during Friday’s opening practice in Nashville.

O’Ward cut the entrance to Turn 3 – the turn before the first climb of the spectacular Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge – with the right side of his car, which sent him on a path to the retaining wall at the exit of the turn. The impact on the left side of the car was brutal but mostly flush, but the damage was enough to put it aside for the remainder of the session.

O’Ward will have 45 minutes in Practice 2 – 1 p.m. ET, Peacock Premium – to gather information the rest of the field already has in preparation for qualifying for the NTT P1 Award at 4:30 p.m. The 80-lap race is at 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN.

O’Ward leads Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing (Honda No.10 NTT DATA) by 39 points with six races remaining, meaning it would be up to O’Ward not to lose ground in the Big Machine Music Grand Prix. City. So he has work to do. But he didn’t seem worried after getting out of the damaged car.

“We will be ready to go tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll see what we have for qualifying.”

O’Ward’s confidence is rooted in his enjoyment of the temporary new 11-turn, 2.17-mile street circuit. Quite simply, he loves it, especially the aggressiveness it takes to manhandle the bumps of the bridge.

“(I like) that it’s violent,” he said. “At turn 4, the bumps are very violent. You go through there and the steering wheel falls out of your hands.

“It’s very unique, unlikely anywhere else we go, that’s for sure.”

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport’s # 26 Honda Gainbridge rider with Curb-Agajanian who led Friday’s practice, said the track was “even more bumpy than Detroit”.

“What we always say is the hardest track we’re going to,” he said. “This one might take it.”

The good news for O’Ward is that he was second in the speed standings at the time of the incident. At the end of the day, his lap of 1 minute, 18.6224 seconds left him 21st of 27 drivers. Palou was sixth with 1: 17.2264. Herta led the field at 1: 16.5875 and could be the driver to catch up after dominating the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the second race of the season. He led 97 of the 100 laps there.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly (US Air Force No.20 Chevrolet) finished practice four minutes early with a slip through the tire barrier at Turn 9. Daly said the brakes went off. blocked on the late approach to the turn and the impact was relatively flush on the right side.

Daly’s fastest lap – 1: 18.8007 – places him 22nd in the speed standings.

INDYCAR’s first long bridge

It turns out that this is not the first extended crossing of water in the sporting career of Sébastien Bourdais and Romain Grosjean. In Formula 1, each raced on the street circuit in Valencia, Spain, which used the port city’s famous swing bridge more than 150 meters from the port.

Bourdais finished 10th in the inaugural race in 2008, and Grosjean made his first Grand Prix start there the following year, finishing 15th. Grosjean qualified fourth before retiring in his only other F1 start, in 2012, the last race on this circuit.

INDYCAR has made two brief trips on the water on the Belle Isle circuit in Detroit, and it has already raced on the water – again, briefly – in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport (# 27 Honda AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS) said he didn’t even expect to know he was driving on the Cumberland River until he saw the photos.

“We’re so low in the car, I hope we don’t even know the water exists,” Rossi said. Tennessee.

The distance over the river is 800 feet, by far the longest stretch in INDYCAR history, and drivers cross the bridge twice per turn.

The fight for the rookie title

With Grosjean driving Dale Coyne Racing’s # 51 Honda Nurtec ODT with RWR for the remainder of the season, INDYCAR has an interesting two-way battle for the Rookie of the Year award.

Grosjean leads Scott McLaughlin (Chevrolet Penske, No. 3 DEX Imaging Team) by 47 points. But if the three oval races, in which Grosjean did not participate, were excluded, the classification would be different.

McLaughlin scored 64 points in both races at Texas Motor Speedway and another 20 in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. That’s 84 points in favor of McLaughlin.

Grosjean looks set for a prize race, and that includes his first oval race, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, on Saturday August 21 at the World Wide Technology Raceway. He recently tested there and came away delighted.

Based on Friday’s practice times, the battle could indeed be on. Grosjean was third, McLaughlin ninth in the first session of the weekend.

“Obviously they have this rookie thing,” Grosjean said. “I have to catch him on points. “

Tips

  • Dalton Kellett’s car did not make it to practice on Friday after AJ Foyt Racing discovered a mechanical problem with the No.4 Chevrolet K-Line Insulators that could not be repaired in time.
  • The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix has 27 driver car combinations, the highest number for an INDYCAR race that has not taken place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the Long Beach race in 2013.
  • Firestone uses the compound and construction of the racing tires used earlier this season in St. Petersburg street racing. To help learn the track, teams were given an additional set of primary tires (black) – seven in all – to go along with four sets of alternative tires (red) and five sets of wet tires (gray). Firestone brought over 1,700 tires to the event.
  • Josef Newgarden’s Celebrity Ping-Pong Challenge, won Thursday night in Nashville by the # 2 Hitachi Penske Chevrolet team driver, raised $ 136,000 for the SeriousFun Children’s Network. Then Newgarden team owner Roger Penske said he would match that total, bringing the donation to $ 272,000. About half of the INDYCAR pilots, as well as many dignitaries, participated.
  • INDYCAR teams have ‘Get Well Robin’ stickers on their cars this weekend to support longtime motorsport journalist Robin Miller, who is battling health issues and is not attending this event. Miller is best known for his work in Indianapolis Star, RACER.com and NBC Sports TV coverage. The stickers are available for $ 20 at https://bit.ly/3lF4q0Q, with all proceeds going to charity.

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