Nashville IndyCar: Herta leads FP1, O’Ward and Daly shunt

Colton Herta topped the first ever session on the new street track in downtown Nashville, while Pato O’Ward suffered an early shunt and Conor Daly brought the session to a premature end in the tire wall.

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Sebastien Bourdais, Colton Herta, Alex Rossi and Graham Rahal were the first drivers to duck under the 80sec barrier, with Jack Harvey soon joining them.

Rossi’s Andretti Autosport-Honda then went down to a 1min18.8551sec, while Herta and Pato O’Ward were discussing bumps knocking the steering-wheel out of their hands and causing them blurred vision.

That didn’t stop the pair of them from vaulting Rossi in the times, Herta landing a 1min18.2899sec, but then O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy clipped the inside wall at Turn 3 which spat him into the outside wall, busting the front suspension on both sides. Out came the red flag with 52mins of the 75min session remaining.

“I got caught out by that inside wall and it sent me off there,” said O’Ward. “The damage doesn't seem to be too bad. We'll be ready to go tomorrow, we'll see what we've got for qualifying."

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Action resumed with just under 45mins remaining, and Scott McLaughlin swiftly slotted his #2 Penske-Chevy into second spot, while Felix Rosenqvist rose to fourth in the second AMSP entry and then first with a time 0.3sec clear of the opposition.

Then Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s points leader closed that deficit to 0.1762sec with second fastest, Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Will Power split them, and then Romain Grosjean took hit the top spot with his Dale Coyne Racing with RWR-Honda. His lap of 1min17.9511sec was a mere 0.0444sec faster than Rosenqvist, and equated to an average of 96.984mph around this 2.17-mile track.

Herta was the next driver to lead, with an impressive 1min17.6726, some 0.28sec faster than Grosjean, who then shaved that gap to 0.18sec. With 20mins to go, Dixon who’d had a quiet session hitherto, appeared in sixth with his 15th lap – albeit 0.6sec off the top – while fellow Kiwi McLaughlin and Power moved into second and third.

Herta kept stroking out his lead, the first driver to duck under 1min17 – and by some margin. With under 10mins to go, he was almost 0.6sec faster than teammate Rossi who then slid down an escape road after going second fastest. Dixon also got under 1min17 to grab second ahead of Grosjean.

Then Conor Daly slid sideways into the tires at Turn 9 with under five minutes to go and embedded the #20 Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet deep enough in the tire wall to end the session early.

That left Herta on top, 0.3778sec ahead of Dixon with Grosjean a further 0.1652sec adrift. Marcus Ericsson and Palou ensured three Ganassi cars in the top six, while Rosenqvist, Power, McLaughlin and Simon Pagenaud were the top four Chevrolet drivers.

Local hero Newgarden was 12th in the fourth Penske-Chevrolet, while reigning and four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was 20th in his first road/street course IndyCar race of the year, about 1sec off Meyer Shank Racing-Honda teammate Jack Harvey.

Jimmie Johnson was 3.3sec off the ultimate pace, but ahead of Max Chilton’s Carlin-Chevy, Santino Ferrucci (Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda) and Cody Ware (third Coyne entry).

Dalton Kellett ran only an installation lap before the AJ Foyt Racing crew discovered an electrical gremlin in the #4 car.

P Name FTime Diff Gap FL Laps FSpeed Engine Team
1 Colton Herta 1:16.5875 1:16.5875 0.000 26 27 98.711 Honda Andretti Autosport
2 Scott Dixon 1:16.9653 0.3778 0.3778 24 25 98.226 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
3 Romain Grosjean 1:17.1305 0.5430 0.1652 26 27 98.016 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing
4 Alexander Rossi 1:17.1742 0.5867 0.0437 22 24 97.960 Honda Andretti Autosport
5 Marcus Ericsson 1:17.2168 0.6293 0.0426 26 28 97.906 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
6 Alex Palou 1:17.2264 0.6389 0.0096 23 25 97.894 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
7 Felix Rosenqvist 1:17.2264 0.6389 0.0000 19 24 97.894 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
8 Will Power 1:17.2436 0.6561 0.0172 28 30 97.872 Chevy Team Penske
9 Scott McLaughlin 1:17.4072 0.8197 0.1636 24 25 97.665 Chevy Team Penske
10 Simon Pagenaud 1:17.4535 0.8660 0.0463 22 23 97.607 Chevy Team Penske
11 Jack Harvey 1:17.4673 0.8798 0.0138 25 26 97.590 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
12 Josef Newgarden 1:17.6603 1.0728 0.1930 24 25 97.347 Chevy Team Penske
13 James Hinchcliffe 1:17.8570 1.2695 0.1967 21 22 97.101 Honda Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
14 Graham Rahal 1:17.9825 1.3950 0.1255 26 26 96.945 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
15 Sebastien Bourdais 1:18.0334 1.4459 0.0509 25 28 96.882 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
16 Rinus VeeKay 1:18.1627 1.5752 0.1293 27 28 96.721 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
17 Takuma Sato 1:18.2167 1.6292 0.0540 25 26 96.655 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
18 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:18.2922 1.7047 0.0755 24 26 96.561 Honda Andretti Autosport
19 Ed Jones 1:18.3479 1.7604 0.0557 18 23 96.493 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
20 Helio Castroneves 1:18.4276 1.8401 0.0797 24 29 96.395 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
21 Pato O'Ward 1:18.6224 2.0349 0.1948 6 7 96.156 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
22 Conor Daly 1:18.8007 2.2132 0.1783 20 24 95.938 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
23 Jimmie Johnson 1:19.8877 3.3002 1.0870 22 29 94.633 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
24 Max Chilton 1:20.1985 3.6110 0.3108 19 23 94.266 Chevy Carlin
25 Santino Ferrucci 1:21.3815 4.7940 1.1830 19 22 92.896 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
26 Cody Ware 1:24.0268 7.4393 2.6453 18 22 89.971 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing
27 Dalton Kellett No Time --- --- -- --- --- Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
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