Although Thunder ‘N Lightning put a Damper upon Qualifying and the Race…
Thanks to unexpectedly having Friday afternoon Free, I elected to “Dial Up,” err Tune-in to Friday’s First IndyCar Practice session from the Music City via IndyCar Radio on Ye Intrawoods’. (Internet) With the only change on the IndyCar Grid for Nashville being the welcome return of Beth Paretta’s partnership with Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) seeing Symona-Symona’, aka Simona de Silvestro aboard Her #16 Paretta Autosport entry.
On top of the Timesheets Friday Was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard, with the Dane’ setting a time of 1:15.9659. Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist was second, just some two-plus tenths behind, followed by Dale Coyne Racin wit HMD Motorsports David Malukas third.
Team Penske’s ScottyMac’, aka Scott McLaughlin led the Penske trio in fourth, with Josef Newgarden fifth and Will Power seventh.
Alexander Rossie led the way for Andretti Autosport in sixth, with colton Herta P8 and Romain Grosjean 10th. While the top Ganassi Driver was Alex Palou in ninth. Marcus Ericsson was P11 and Scott Dixon 16th.
Others getting off to a good start were Meyer Shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud P12. Followed by Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott, who was one place ahead of Pato O’Ward. And A.J. foyt Enterprises Kyle Kirkwood was a promising P17.
Saturday’s second Practice session got off with a Bang! As Ed Carpenter Racing’s (ECR) Rinus VeeKay Smacked the Wall just seconds after the session going Green! Mangling His Nosecone and limping back to the Pits. As IndyCar Radio’s Mark Gravelly’ James took the words right outta my mouth, later noting how VeeKay’s re-signing with ECR wasn’t putting a Spring into His Step, or the team’s. As Conor Daly & VeeKay were P21-22; with Paretta Autosport’s teammate Simona de Silvestro 25 during Friday’s 75mins practice session.
And the three ECR entries fared little better Saturday, with VeeKay, Daly and de Silvestro P22-24 respectably.
Yet Rinus wasn’t the only driver seeing Nashville’s Concrete Canyon Up close ‘N Personal. As Graham Rahal had a similar incident, albeit managing to reverse out of the tyre barrier. Colton Herta spun on track and Rosenqvist mated the left side of His Dallara against the Jersey Barriers!
Team Penske flexed Thar Muscles sweeping the Top Three spots Saturday morning wit McLaughlin ahead of Newgarden and Power. Fourth was Rossi, followed by Kirkwood, Rosenqvist, Grosjean, Herrta, Lundgaard and Malukas rounding out the Top 10.
McLaughlin’s time of 1:15.4609 was marginally faster than Lundgaard’s Friday time. While I’m afraid that Kirkwood’s P5 is an Outlier since teams only got to run on the brand new Green Sidewall “Guacamole” Alternate Firestone tyres Friday. Thus Saturday’s practice was run solely on the Black primary rubber, so we’ll see how this translates to Qualie’.
As believe it was Mark James noting it was scottyMac’ who came up with the Guacamole nickname…
The other title Contendah’s positions saw Scott Dixon leading a three car Congo line in 11th. Followed by Palou and O’Ward P12-13 respectably, with Ericsson an uncharacteristic P19.
Tuning in at 1:25PM Pacific, when Thar should have been five minutes until Qualifying started. Instead my Confuzer Speakers started playing the muted tunes of Sid Collins calling another Indy 500. As I thought Oh Shit, Here we Go Again! Before checking the official IndyCar website to learn that a Thunder ‘N Lightning Storm had rolled tru Downtown Nashville and we were in a Holding pattern due to the multiple nearby lightning strikes. So I listened to Sid Collins calling what had to be the 1975 Indianapolis 500 instead, since somebody interviewed SuperMario’, nee Mario Andretti in the #21. As Mario Had Crashed on the Backstretch and seemed totally Befuddled over what Had Happened?
As Mario did indeed drive the Vels Parnelli Jones #21 viceroy Eagle/Offenhauser in the 1975 Indy 500…
Qualifying finally began 90mins late and was immediately interrupted by a Ref Flag brought out by Devlin DeFrancesco. Next Colton Herta Overcooked a Corner into the Tyre Barrier and brought out a second Red Flag in Round One’s Group One session with One minute remaining, catching many drivers out – including a Fuming Rossi, Rosenqvist, etc. As Dalton Kellett had wisely gone out early and set a Quick time to surprisingly advance to the Fast 12 round.
DJ willyP’ Spun and brought out a Yellow Flag during the Fast 12 shootout, finishing P8 and sharing Row 4 of the Grid with David Malukas. Whilst Palou was the only Ganassi driver to advance to the Fast Six Shootout. With Dixon and Ericsson a disappointing P14, P18 respectably.
And like I expected, Kyle Kirkwood failed to advance out of His Round One, group-1 Qualie’ session, winding up P16, albeit No idea if this was due to being caught up in the multiple Red flags or His racecar Not liking the Firestone “guacamole” Alternate rubber? While rinus VeeKay rebounded by Qualifying 10th.
The Fast Six was probably the most diverse in awhile, with five teams in the mix, with only Penske having two drivers in the Shootout. As the driver who’s been Red Hot this weekend Stormed to His second Pole of the year, as Nobody could catch Scott McLaughlin.
Andretti’s Romain Grosjean was closest in second with RLLR’s Christian Lundgaard third. Alex Palou was a distant fourth, saying He Didn’t have anything left for Pole. While Row-3 features Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward and Josef Newgarden.