IndyCar drivers support the Nashville track despite a race strewn with accidents. – Marseille News

With no less than nine warning periods, including a pair of red flags, and only 47 of 80 laps performed « under green », IndyCar’s first race through the streets of Nashville was not the purest spectacle of sport. automobile.

The category and its predecessors had a more difficult racing start than that. The CART Indycar Championship has not returned to Texas Motor Speedway after its abortive race 20 years ago. The modern IndyCar series also didn’t return to NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana after its nearly flooded 2015 event.

The Championship will be mindful of its latest new venture to avoid the fate of its short-lived races in Baltimore and Houston over the past decade. Nashville at least managed to hold its first race, which is better than what the hapless Boston Grand Prix promoters handled five years ago.

But the reaction of the drivers to the event, despite a race filled with accidents, gives much reason to be optimistic about the future of the Nashville event.

Scott Dixon, who recorded his 125th career IndyCar podium with a second place finish, suggested that much of the carnage could be avoided in the next installments of the event if the drivers showed more discretion in key areas. of the circuit.

The IndyCar street race in Baltimore proved to be short-lived. “There were regulars who made mistakes and hit people. Maybe it needs to be looked at, or the penalties need to be tougher when you cause accidents like this. « 

There were several instances of « cautions leading to warnings » on Sunday, as Dixon alluded to. “It’s a tricky track, it’s really difficult,” he said. “Especially on restarting, when you’re trying to get the temperature in the tires up and you know it’s going to be a little hard to overtake.

“There were a lot of people trying to make that happen on reboots – and I totally understand that. It’s a balance that you have to try to find. You look towards [Colton] Herta, he made the passes. It can be done cleanly, as it did.

However, Dixon admitted that the 11-corner, three-and-a-half-mile course could be improved upon before the series returns next year. “There may be areas of the track that can change a bit, that would create passing areas, maybe improve the race a bit. « 

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This sentiment was echoed by Dixon’s teammate, race winner Marcus Ericsson. He sees the narrow northern end of the circuit – which some compare to the Baku Street Circuit castle complex in Azerbaijan – as an area of ​​opportunity.

Jimmie Johnson, Ganassi, IndyCar, Nashville, 2021Several pilots were overtaken by the tricky Nashville track. [turn] section four to eight is a bit slow, ”he said. “So maybe over there they could open it up and make it a little wider,” Ericsson said. “Maybe that could help.”

Ericsson admitted that his positive feeling about the site was potentially tainted by his unlikely 18th place win on the grid following an air crash.

“The track is really cool to drive. It’s very hard because it’s bumpy, and there are different surfaces. It’s a very difficult track to drive as we saw all weekend. But I like this challenge. I think it takes the best of us drivers to try to figure out all these bumps, figure out where to put the car.

“I have spoken to a lot of other riders and I think everyone has been impressed with the fun on the track. Because when we saw the layout, it was kind of like, “I don’t know how much fun that will be really”, because it didn’t look that exciting on the layout. When we got here I thought it was a lot more fun to drive than I expected. There was a lot more elevation from what I expected from what I saw before. It’s so cool to cross the bridge and come back.

Much was said during practice and qualifying about the bumpy nature of the circuit – in particular, the jarring bumps in the transitions on and off the Korean War Memorial Bridge.

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“The track is really really good, it’s just the bridge,” said third James Hinchcliffe. “Even on the bridge it’s not that bad, it’s just the on and off transitions that are really the problem.”

The stands were packed on race day. The entrance to turn nine in particular saw several crashes over the weekend – and a mind-blowing stoppage by rookie Scott McLaughlin early in the race. “If it weren’t for those, I think it wouldn’t even be in the top three bumpy tracks, I don’t think so,” Hinchcliffe added.

Aside from the flaws in the layout of the track, the drivers praised the new addition to the series schedule, in particular the enthusiastic reaction of the locals to the race. The stands were packed to capacity, although not all were built before race morning, prompting unhappy reactions on social media.

“The crowd in Nashville is amazing,” Hinchcliffe said. “You would think this race lasted 40 years. It’s like a Long Beach, Toronto, St. Pete the first year, and I’m happy to come back.

“To come to the race and see how many people took the time to show up, how many people stayed until eight o’clock to see the end. It wasn’t just like a guy who heard a noise and walked in. They were racing fans.

“There was a ton of cargo, a lot of people who knew what they were talking about, who knew the pilots. It’s not just that we had « stupid luck » in placing ourselves in a very populated city. There is an appetite for running here.

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