Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta in the No.26 Gainbridge Honda was the pace setter on the opening session of the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville as he set a fastest time of 01:16.5875s and speaking following the action he said:
We’re just getting to grips with the track. “Obviously, we came here with a really good package. We were fast right away, and I felt very comfortable getting up to speed.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking, the first time you have to go flat over the bridge with the bumps because the last thing you want to do is for the car to bottom and you send it into the wall on a straight; you kind of look stupid with that. The simulations we did beforehand were on point for what we expected, and it made my job a lot easier.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in the No.9 PNC Bank Honda set the second fastest time of 01:16.9653s just ahead of Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s Romain Grosjean in the No.51 Nurtec ODT Honda who set a time of 01:17.1305s.
Alexander Rossi in the No.27 AutoNation NAPA Auto Parts Honda was fourth fastest with a time of 01:17.1742s. Speaking following the action he said:
Nashville is pretty cool – the city, the track. It was nice to finally be out there and not have so many questions and unknowns. I think we rolled off strong and are happy with the car. I think every time we went out, the track evolved and that is going to continue throughout the weekend. It is very important to stay on top of that. I think that is the most critical part of having a good weekend – to be able to make the transition from today to tomorrow and tomorrow afternoon in qualifying to stay on top of the evolution. Overall a good day for the AutoNation crew and thrilled to be here in Nashville.”
Marcus Ericsson in the No.8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda was fifth fastest with a time of 01:17.2168s and ended the session just ahead of Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist.
Team Penske’s Will Power in the No.12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet led a trio of Penske drivers with Scott McLaughlin and Simon Pagenaud rounding out the top ten.
Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey in the No.60 AutoNation Sirius XM Honda was 11th with a time of 01:17.4673s.
Josef Newgarden in the No.2 Hitachi Chevrolet was 12th fastest just ahead of James Hinchcliffe who commented following the action saying:
Nashville is great! It was definitely an educational first session for everybody getting out on track for the first time trying to see what this place is going to drive like. Honestly, it was better than expected. No doubt the bridge is bumpy, but that is kind of the same for everyone. The back section is tight and slippery, but again it’s the same for everyone. The stadium section has actually rubbered in really nicely, not just for the first time we are on track here but that anything has been on track here. Overall a decent start for the team. Obviously Colton (Herta) is quick, so we can look at that and keep pounding away and try to make the No. 29 Capstone Honda a little faster for tomorrow.
Graham Rahal was 14th just ahead of Sebastien Bourdais and Rinus VeeKay.
Takuma Sato in the No.30 Shield Cleansers Honda was 17th with a time of 01:18.2167s ending up just ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda. Speaking following the action he said:
“It was an interesting first practice at Nashville. Bumpy to say the least. It is super tight out there. We tried some things and found some things that didn’t really work. We are ready to apply the things that did work to tomorrow. Looking forward to a good reset for tomorrow and another shot at it before qualifying.”
Ed Jones was 19th just ahead of Helio Castroneves and Pato O’Ward in the No.5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet who suffered a heavy crash at Turn 7.
Conor Daly was 22nd just ahead of Jimmie Johnson and Max Chilton while Santino Ferrucci was 24th while Cody Ware and Dalton Kellett rounded out the order.