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Race Report: Big Machine Music City Grand Prix

NASHVILLE (Aug. 6, 2023) -- For the first time in three years, the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet finished the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix with Santino Ferrucci at the wheel. However, for teammate Benjamin Pedersen in the No. 55 Sexton Properties Chevrolet, it was a case of wrong place, wrong time.

Ferrucci started 21st on the alternate compound tires which he traded in after seven laps for the more favorable primary compound tires. Pedersen pitted on lap 12 just as the pits had been closed for David Malukas's crash. Pedersen was penalized because he took full service in a closed pit and he had to do a drive-through.

The race was uneventful from that point on until the last seven laps when the yellow came out for rookie Linus Lundquist who hit the barrier in Turn 11. Ferrucci, running 18th, was called to the pits for a splash of fuel and used alternate compound tires, his team figuring he could be more aggressive in the final laps of the 80-lapper. Pedersen also pitted.

Unfortunately, Ferrucci suffered a slow stop and he dropped to 22nd just behind his teammate. On the restart, Colton Herta hit the wall and about two cars behind, Felix Rosenqvist slid into the barrier. A chain reaction ensued with Augustino Canapino hitting Rosenqvist and Pedersen hitting Canapino, as both cars had nowhere to go. Pedersen's race was finished (he wasn't injured), but Ferrucci was able to slip through on the inside and moved into 17th.

The race was red-flagged as the track was cleaned up. However, officials called for a re-order of the restart line-up and dropped Ferrucci two spots behind Ryan Hunter-Reay and Stingray Robb. Ferrucci gained a spot when Herta limped back to pits and was done for the day on lap 76. Ferrucci finished 18th. Pedersen was credited with 23rd.

Ferrucci wipes his face after the race as he talks to Larry Foyt. Temperatures were in the 90s and even higher in the cockpit.

“Long day," Ferrucci said. "Just fighting understeer, trying to understand the car. I think we had a good idea of what we think went wrong. The biggest thing is towards the end of the race, we had the correct strategy – we did everything right. That last crash, for whatever reason, the reorder was not favorable. It was favorable to those involved in the wreck and not for the people who avoided it. Finished clean, 18th. Moving on to the (Indianapolis) GP.”

Pedersen had a tough weekend.

“Pretty tricky day," Pedersen stated after the race. "Honestly, we had really good pace. At times, we had the same pace as the leaders. Unfortunately, caught a yellow at the wrong moment when the pit light came on. We were on the pit commit line and received that penalty. Really just wrong place, wrong time. Had to do a drive-through, but otherwise, a top-15 was looking really promising (after) starting from the back.

Regarding the accident that ended his race, he said, "Wrong place, wrong time. The restart happened going into the first corner (which is actually turn 11) and I committed to the outside where there was a gap, a lot of people were rolling out there. Unfortunately, about four cars ahead of me, one of them went into the wall (Colton Herta) and just ricocheted and I'd already committed to the outside and the inside was full. Nowhere to go, everyone was kind of in the marbles and I tried to slow down but the outside lane just piled up. Just unfortunate. Wrong place, wrong time.

"We had a lot of promising things. I'm looking forward to continuing this pace into the rest of the season. It’s just been a bit of unlucky lately, but there’s been strong, promising points as well. We’re working really hard to get better and better.”

Kyle Kirkwood won his second race of the year, and second on a street course with his maiden victory coming on the streets of Long Beach. Kirkwood was followed across the line by pole winner Scott McLaughlin, point leader Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon.

Teams head straight to Indianapolis for the Gallagher Grand Prix on the IMS road course. The race will be broadcast Saturday afternoon at 2p.m. ET on the USA Network and will be streamed on Peacock.


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