Franchitti: Nashville has ingredients to be a top street circuit

The Music City Grand Prix Cup

Four-time IndyCar Series winner Dario Franchitti believes the new Nashville Street Circuit will be a stellar addition to the calendar when it debuts this weekend.

Nashville is one of four street circuits on the 2021 IndyCar schedule, joining St. Petersburg, Detroit and Long Beach.

Former Nashville resident Franchitti believes the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will be quite the hit.

“I think for me, bumps, multiple surfaces, all different types of corner, I think those are some of the things,” the 48-year-old said, when asked what makes a great street course.

“Nashville has got all of those.

“You don’t want something that’s super smooth. Part of the challenge is how to get over those bumps quickly, how to get round those particular corners, the compromise that’s involved in that.”

Of the circuit’s bridge, he added: “I think it’s cool. It’s nice to have a signature for the circuit. That’s going to be Nashville’s signature, is that bridge.”

Franchitti believes downtown Nashville can bring back a party event to the category.

“When I first came to the series a long time ago…  there was Surfers Paradise, Long Beach, Toronto, Vancouver,” he said.

“They were big events. For us they were obviously very serious, but for fans they were three-day parties. There was always something going on, on and off the track.

“I really think that’s something that Nashville will bring. You’ve got to have that. It’s going to be right close to downtown, as well.

“Again, I think it’s a great addition to the calendar, to IndyCar. It’s a win-win.

Among the hats Franchitti will be wearing in the Tennessee capital, which hosted an oval IndyCar event from 2001 to 2008, are grand marshal of the Music City Grand Prix, as well as his usual mentor role at Chip Ganassi Racing.

CGR currently leads the IndyCar standings via Spanish youngster Alex Palou, who holds a 39-point advantage over McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward.

Palou is eagerly awaiting the challenge presented by the Nashville Street Circuit.

“I’m enjoying the street racing. I think it’s a bit crazier than the road courses. You see different strategies always. You see there’s a lot more yellows,” he said.

“There’s a lot more things that doesn’t go, like, smooth, which is good for the show.

“About the bridge, I think it’s going to be cool. At the end of the day it’s just a straight over the water.

“It’s going to be a bit bumpy just because of those connections… but, yeah, it’s going to be fun.

“It’s a long straight from what I saw. It’s going to be challenging to get to the corner and be brave enough to brake super late and try to overtake some cars.

“I think it’s going to be cool. It’s going to be a nice, nice track.”

Nashville represents the 11th of 16 events on the 2021 IndyCar schedule.

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