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IndyCar Nashville

Newgarden: Fans to be winners in “stressful” Nashville IndyCar finale

Two-time IndyCar Series champion and this year’s Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden expects a “chaotic” season finale next season on the historic streets of downtown Nashville.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

Speaking at the announcement of Nashville taking the place of Laguna Seca as the final round of the 2024 IndyCar calendar, Team Penske’s Newgarden – who hails from nearby Hendersonville – said he hopes for a tight championship finale on the new track layout that takes in much more of the city’s downtown district.

“I think as a driver, to speak on everybody's behalf, we all love coming to Nashville and racing this event,” said Newgarden. “It is a big bucket list item for anybody that is in motorsports.

“Proud to be from here. Proud to live back here with my family. I think we're going to put on a really good show for the season finale. It's going to be chaotic, which is going to be great for the fans.

“You're going to hope for a tight championship finale. For us it's stressful, but the fans are the winners in this thing. It's going to be a great show.”

Why the new Nashville racetrack was needed

The revised 2.17-mile, seven-turn track design is required due to the building of a new stadium for the Tennessee Titans NFL team, who cemented a $2.1 billion agreement to build an enclosed 60,000-seat, 1.7 million-square-foot stadium along the east bank of the Cumberland River.

That will be built adjacent to the current Nissan Stadium, near the area where the current track runs and the paddock is situated.

President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp Mark Miles explained that the new track and finale date for 2024 were a happy coincidence that will elevate the event.

“From the very beginning, actually before the first race, the leadership of the promoter group was bugging me about the idea of this being the finale,” he said. “[I said] right, just run a race first and let's see if it works, let's grow into the opportunity.

Big Machine Music City Grand Prix circuit map

Big Machine Music City Grand Prix circuit map

“I just sort of dismissed it, to be honest with you. Then we had the situation where I think necessity is the mother of invention, the situation where the Nissan Stadium developed. They came to us with a plan that just blew us away.

“The only question for us was: ‘Can you do it? Can you actually pull all these things together right here in this hallowed ground for this host city?’

“I think it might be the best big event city, the best entertainment city in the United States. The epicenter of it is right here on Broadway.”

With the majority of the track switching sides across the Cumberland River, Miles realised that would legitimise the end-of-season status.

He added: “When we thought about the possibility of our race being here, we said: ‘What was the idea about the finale? This is going to deserve that.’

“It's going to be a phenomenal event that will take the IndyCar finale to a whole ’nother level, along with our celebration of that finale.

“The racing will be fantastic. This track is going to be fast with great passing zones.

“We think we're going to have great sport. We know it's going to be a super entertaining, fun place to have the finale. We couldn't be more excited about it.”

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