Race Report: Big Machine Music City Grand Prix
NASHVILLE (Aug. 8)—Move on. Focus on the next race.
After the misfortune suffered in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, that is what the AJ Foyt Racing team will do.
Driving the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet, Sebastien Bourdais and Dalton Kellett, in his No. 4 K-Line Insulators Chevrolet, never grazed a wall nor hit a tire barrier in the practice and qualifying sessions. Both drivers were confident going into the race, despite starting in the back half of the field.
The trouble began early for Kellett who had a problem with his steering wheel at the start of the race which brought out a yellow and cost him two laps as the team had to replace it.
On the restart from that caution period, Marcus Ericsson rear-ended Bourdais so hard that Ericsson’s car bounced over the top of Bourdais’s car and damaged the No. 14’s suspension beyond repair for Bourdais to return to action. Ericsson was penalized for avoidable contact with a stop-and-go penalty. Bourdais, who wasn’t injured, was out after five laps.
The crew looks over the damage on the 14.
“I was looking forward to that race, but unfortunately, we won't get anything out of it,” said Bourdais. “Following a decent start, sitting 14th, Marcus was right in my gearbox before the restart, but the field started to check up and he ran right over us damaging our car very significantly, putting an end to our race.”
Kellett was soldiering on just trying to finish the race. On lap 40, Will Power tangled with his teammate Scott McLaughlin in Turn 9 which caused McLaughlin to spin. Kellett came around and had nowhere to go. He hit the brakes and slid between McLaughlin and the wall. He sustained a bent suspension but wasn’t injured but his day also ended early.
“This has been a sub-optimal weekend for us,” said Kellett. “We’ve had our fair share of stuff thrown at us. We had a freak electrical issue on Friday and now with the steering wheel at the start of the race, that obviously hurt us, put us a couple laps down. Then going into Turn 9, I was pretty committed and Scott must have spun at a point where I was past the marshal’s stand and I didn’t see or hear on the radio about a yellow. I’d have to check the replay to confirm that but definitely didn’t hear a call for yellow, and was kind of committed and didn’t have anywhere to go. I feel bad for collecting McLaughlin there. I got sandwiched between him and the wall.
“It’s a shame," he continued. "The problems that we’ve had look bad from the outside but both the issues we’ve had, these are new parts, it isn’t a lack of preparation on the team’s side, they were just freak incidents. We’ll do a deep dive and see if there’s a root cause we can suss out and make improvements. I don’t want it to seem like the team’s not prepared and we’re having these issues, it just seems we’re having some very bad luck this weekend. We win and lose as a team, and we’re on the lose side of that this weekend, but we’ve got five races left and we’ll definitely pick it up from here.”
Post race chat (L to R): Driver coach Ryan Briscoe, Scott Harner, Larry Foyt and Kellett.
Ericsson did not sustain race-ending damage. In fact, his crew replaced the front wing and through the series of crashes, cautions, strategy and quick pit work that characterized the race, he advanced to the front and staved off his teammate Scott Dixon to take the victory. Third through fifth were James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal.
The NTT INDYCAR Series heads to Indianapolis this week for the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix. NBCSN will broadcast the race live on Saturday, Aug. 14 starting at 12:30 pm ET.