Andretti Autosport Faces Fierce Fight in Nashville
Photographer: Ignite Media
Andretti Autosport brought home two top-five finishes in a caution-filled Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the bumpy streets of Nashville after on-track incidences collected over half the field. Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta finished the race fourth and fifth, respectively.
Due to two red flags during qualifying group one, neither driver advanced in qualifying, relegating them to start at the rear of the field. Undeterred, both drivers used the seven cautions during the race to challenge the front of the field.
Rossi started the race 17th in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/ AutoNation Honda and went on to his fourth-place finish. To make his top-five performance possible, he double-stinted a set of Firestone tires to give him added advantage over the course of the race.
"This place is pretty wild. A huge thanks to the NAPA and AutoNation Andretti team. We were a lap down early and hung in there. We came back for a pretty good race. We had a good pace for points in the race; we made a set of Firestone Primaries go 30 to 35 laps. After the issue in qualifying yesterday and then the issue at the start of the race, I mean, this is as good as a win, so a huge thank you to the team. We’ll take this one."
Herta started the race 23rd after causing a red flag in qualifying. His fifth-place finish was hard fought for after he went a lap down in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda due to receiving contact on Lap 3.
"I really have to give it to the guys; they did a great job in the pits. In both of our pit stops, we gained so many spots. I think on that second one, we probably gained two or three spots that put us up into about eighth. We were able to battle and finish top five from there, so congrats to them. The Gainbridge Honda was really fast today and I’m happy with how we came back, not only from starting at the back but also being a lap down. That doesn’t happen too often, so I’m really happy."
Romain Grosjean had his best qualifying effort of the season. He nearly missed out on earning pole position and started the race second. He spent much of his race at the front of the field before cautions and pit stops shuffled him further back. On a re-start, Grosjean was pushed wide into a barrier, bringing him into retirement five laps too soon.
"I think it was a very positive weekend for us. We had a really good pace in qualifying and into the race. At the beginning of the race, McLaughlin and I were flying on those green tires. I think we had one of the fastest laps of the race, so that was brilliant. Obviously, it turns out again, like last year, to be a bit of a lucky race for some guys that had incidents and ended up finishing high up. I’m really disappointed with Newgarden’s move that ended our race, but it is what it is. I think again; the positive is that we had a very fast car all weekend."
Devlin DeFrancesco had a positive start to the race advancing 10 positions early on, making him one of the more prominent movers earlier in the grand prix. DeFrancesco also had to start the race from the rear of the field due to the two red flags in qualifying group one. However, on a restart, DeFrancesco’s progress was halted due to an incident that brought him in contact with a barrier. He finished the race 22nd after starting 24th.
"It was another frustrating day. It feels like there has just been frustration after frustration. I had made up a few positions on the restarts so things were trending positive. Then the incident occurred and our day was over. Hopefully, we can regroup on the week off."
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Andretti Autosport next take on the oval at World Wide Technology Raceway. The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 is the final oval race of the weekend and takes place under the stars and lights of the St. Louis facility. The race goes green at 6 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 20. The broadcast will air on USA, NBC’s Peacock, Sirius XM and INDYCAR Radio.