IndyCar Nashville: Ericsson overcomes crash, penalty to win chaotic race

Marcus Ericsson claimed an improbable IndyCar victory at the inaugural Music City Grand Prix, overcoming an early crash with Sebastien Bourdais and drive-through penalty to win at Nashville.

IndyCar Nashville: Ericsson overcomes crash, penalty to win chaotic race

The bumpy, tight street circuit forced a surfeit of errors and multiple caution periods, with very little in the way of green-flag running in the race's first half - and by the end had been red-flagged twice.

Polesitter Colton Herta led the opening 30 laps of the race and was able to break-build between caution periods, but a lap 31 caution for Rinus VeeKay’s crash at the Turn 4-5 chicane forced Herta to make his first pitstop under the yellows.

After a lengthy period of cautions and restarts at the middle period of the race, Andretti Autosport's Herta was eventually able to return to the front as the runners ahead cycled back into the pits.

But he once more had to stop under yellows and concede track position after Pato O’Ward’s lunge on Alex Rossi required a brief clean-up operation.

Herta made up two more places on the lap 54 restart, before his progress was put on ice again as Cody Ware spun on the bridge and stalled for another caution period.

But with a setup that proved particularly fruitful on the tight corners, Herta swashbuckled his way through the cars ahead, clearing Andretti team-mates Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe ahead of a well-timed lunge on Scott Dixon at Turn 1.

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport Honda

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport Honda

Photo by: Joe Skibinski

However, Herta’s progress hit something of an impasse once he came up to the rear of Ericsson, the Swedish driver having considerably more pace on the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge to keep the poleman at bay.

Ericsson had earlier served a drive-through penalty. On the cusp of the first restart, the ex-Formula 1 driver careened into Bourdais as the field bunched up, getting airborne and breaking his front wing, while Bourdais retired.

However, the plethora of cautions gave Ericsson the chance to recover and cycle out to the front – proving to be Herta’s sternest challenge.

Herta attempted a lunge at Turn 1 which produced a lock-up and lost him ground to Ericsson, but attempted to close back in after being informed the race leader was being restricted to tighter fuel numbers.

Then with six laps remaining, Herta hit the wall at Turn 1 to bring out a second red flag to wipe away his otherwise flawless performance across the weekend, ultimately leading to a two-lap shootout at the final green flag.

Ericsson then bolted at the final restart and opened enough of a buffer over team-mate Dixon to secure his second victory of the season, leading a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2.

Hinchcliffe, who was one of the many cars caught up in the multi-car pile-up on the third restart, finished third after holding off a final-lap challenge from Hunter-Reay.

The pile-up was caused by Will Power’s robust pass on Penske team-mate Simon Pagenaud which left the French driver facing the wall and blocking the circuit, forcing a multitude of cars into a stop.

The race was hence red-flagged for the first time to decongest the track, proving to be an unfortunate situation for a number of cars who had pitted under the previous yellow – including title contender Alex Palou.

Graham Rahal collected fifth place ahead of Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones, who put a final-restart move on Felix Rosenqvist to grab sixth, where the Emirati driver was followed through by Palou as the standings leader mounted a strong recovery drive from his earlier misfortune.

This year's Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves marked a return to his Meyer Shank Racing seat with ninth, ahead of Josef Newgarden – who completed the top 10 after being pushed down the order after contact with Rahal on the opening lap.

Results

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap
1 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 80 2:18'49.830  
2 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 80 2:18'51.390 1.559
3 Canada James Hinchcliffe United States Andretti Autosport 80 2:18'52.222 2.391
4 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay United States Andretti Autosport 80 2:18'52.632 2.801
5 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 80 2:18'53.913 4.083
6 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones United States Dale Coyne Racing 80 2:18'54.602 4.771
7 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 80 2:18'55.363 5.533
8 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist United States Arrow McLaren SP 80 2:18'55.797 5.966
9 Brazil Helio Castroneves United States Meyer Shank Racing 80 2:18'56.617 6.787
10 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 80 2:18'57.359 7.528
11 United States Santino Ferrucci United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 80 2:18'58.323 8.492
12 United States Conor Daly United States Ed Carpenter Racing 80 2:18'58.662 8.832
13 Mexico Patricio O'Ward United States Arrow McLaren SP 80 2:18'58.951 9.120
14 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 80 2:18'59.426 9.595
15 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Meyer Shank Racing 80 2:19'00.922 11.091
16 France Romain Grosjean United States Dale Coyne Racing 80 2:19'02.106 12.276
17 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 80 2:19'06.360 16.529
18 United Kingdom Max Chilton United Kingdom Carlin 80 2:19'14.675 24.845
19 United States Colton Herta United States Andretti Autosport 74 2:07'52.702 6 Laps
20 United States Cody Ware United States Dale Coyne Racing 70 2:05'44.911 10 Laps
21 France Simon Pagenaud United States Team Penske 68 2:04'39.584 12 Laps
22 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 67 2:19'05.561 13 Laps
23 Canada Dalton Kellett United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 37 1:12'25.465 43 Laps
24 Netherlands Rinus van Kalmthout United States Ed Carpenter Racing 24 1:27'27.277 56 Laps
25 Japan Takuma Sato United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 19 38'26.281 61 Laps
26 United States Jimmie Johnson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 18 31'48.660 62 Laps
27 France Sébastien Bourdais United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 5 20'39.231 75 Laps
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