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IndyCar Nashville

Kirkwood feared for Nashville IndyCar win after McLaughlin “ran me down”

Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood feared his Nashville IndyCar race win was in jeopardy after Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin “ran me down on that last lap”.

#27: Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport Honda, winner

Kirkwood scored his second victory of 2023, his first season with Andretti Autosport, by 0.7s after a four-lap sprint to the finish that followed a late-race red flag.

“We were really good on the initial lap [of the restart] but right there at the end, man, they were so fast and they ran me down on that last lap,” Kirkwood told NBC.

“I really only made a couple of passes on track and they really cycled me to the front on strategy.

“We just made some really smart decisions and hit all of our marks, so a solid day no doubt.”

Kirkwood harked back to his exit from last year’s race, when he ploughed his AJ Foyt-run car into David Malukas towards the end of the race, taking them both out.

“Last time I was here, it was not a very fun event,” he admitted. “We were super-fast and I just needed some kind of redemption and I got it here today.”

McLaughlin, who led the opening stint of the race from pole, was undone by an early yellow flag that allowed cars that started on the harder primary tyres the advantage by closing up, then running longer and overcutting him.

“I gave it my all,” said McLaughlin. “Tried my hardest but Kyle did an unreal job.

“Another top three, good points, bummed not to get the win but we weren’t the best on the day, Kyle was.

#3: Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

#3: Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Gavin Baker

“Hopefully next year, when we run for the championship [in the newly-appointed season finale race] then we win here and it’ll be a huge party on Broadway. Really proud of the effort today.”

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou finished third to extend his points lead over McLaughlin’s team-mate Josef Newgarden to 84.

“It was a great day, all in all, I’m disappointed with fourth,” said Newgarden. “I’m never happy unless we’re leaving with a win.

“I felt like we ran a really good race, I felt there was a little more opportunity that didn’t materialise at the beginning, typical street course stuff, you get used up at times.

“The team executed well, there’s some things we gotta work on that are pretty visible to us, but everyone’s doing a great job.

“I think we can leave here pretty happy, just wishing we had a little more.”

Palou almost lost a chunk of points when it looked like he’d have to make an extra pitstop in the closing stages, but a late-race crash avoided a likely tumble into the midfield placings.

“We survived,” he said. “We had the speed but we expected more yellows. We made it work.

“We were saving a tonne of fuel during the race. It was a stressful one, but couldn’t be happier now.”

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