Herta leads Dixon in first Nashville practice

Colton Herta. Picture: Chris Owens

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta has set the pace in the first-ever practice at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in downtown Nashville.

The 21-year-old clocked a session best 1:16.5875s to edge out Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon on a 1:16.9653s by 0.3778s.

Practice 1 marked the first chance for the drivers to get a taste of the IndyCar Series’ newest venue, the Nashville Street Circuit.

Speaking after the sessions, Herta likened the course to the Belle Isle Street Circuit in Detroit, which is famed for its bumps.

“It’s difficult, obviously with the bumps going over the bridge,” said Herta.

“I’d say it’s even bumpier than Detroit, which we always say is the most difficult street course that we go to. This one might take it.

“I’m just getting to grips with the track. Obviously, we came here with a really good package because we were so fast right away.”

Herta and Dixon were the only two drivers to set a time under the 1:17s bracket with Romain Grosjean (Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing) the next best in third on a 1:17.1305s.

Herta’s Andretti Autosport team-mate Alexander Rossi was fourth fastest and 0.5867s adrift on a 1:17.1742s while Marcus Ericsson on Chip Ganassi Racing was fifth and 0.6293s off the pace.

Three of the four Chip Ganassi Racing entries were inside the top 10 with series leader Alex Palou in sixth-equal with McLaren SP driver Felix Rosenqvist, the pair setting an identical best time of 1:17.2264s.

Will Power led Team Penske stable-mates Scott McLaughlin and Simon Pagenaud from eighth to 10th while local man Josef Newgarden was just behind in 12th and 1.0s off Herta.

The session was punctuated by two incidents, the first being that of Pato O’Ward who clipped the inside wall at Turn 3 and speared hard into the adjacent outside wall.

The McLaren SP driver would complete just seven laps of the 11-turn circuit, finishing the session 2.0s off the pace in 21st.

In 22nd, Conor Daly ended his session in the wall, a big slide at Turn 1 casting the Ed Carpenter Racing driver into the tyre wall.

Practice 2 takes place tomorrow at 03:00 AEST followed by Qualifying at 06:30 AEST.

Results: Music City Grand Prix, Practice 1

Pos Num Name Time Diff Gap Laps Engine Team
1 26 Colton Herta 1:16.5875 1:16.5875 0 27 Honda Andretti Autosport
2 9 Scott Dixon 1:16.9653 0.3778 0.3778 25 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
3 51 Romain Grosjean 1:17.1305 0.5430 0.1652 27 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing
4 27 Alexander Rossi 1:17.1742 0.5867 0.0437 24 Honda Andretti Autosport
5 8 Marcus Ericsson 1:17.2168 0.6293 0.0426 28 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
6 10 Alex Palou 1:17.2264 0.6389 0.0096 25 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
7 7 Felix Rosenqvist 1:17.2264 0.6389 0.0000 24 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
8 12 Will Power 1:17.2436 0.6561 0.0172 30 Chevy Team Penske
9 3 Scott McLaughlin 1:17.4072 0.8197 0.1636 25 Chevy Team Penske
10 22 Simon Pagenaud 1:17.4535 0.8660 0.0463 23 Chevy Team Penske
11 60 Jack Harvey 1:17.4673 0.8798 0.0138 26 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
12 2 Josef Newgarden 1:17.6603 1.0728 0.1930 25 Chevy Team Penske
13 29 James Hinchcliffe 1:17.8570 1.2695 0.1967 22 Honda Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
14 15 Graham Rahal 1:17.9825 1.3950 0.1255 26 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
15 14 Sebastien Bourdais 1:18.0334 1.4459 0.0509 28 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
16 21 Rinus VeeKay 1:18.1627 1.5752 0.1293 28 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
17 30 Takuma Sato 1:18.2167 1.6292 0.054 26 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
18 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:18.2922 1.7047 0.0755 26 Honda Andretti Autosport
19 18 Ed Jones 1:18.3479 1.7604 0.0557 23 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
20 6 Helio Castroneves 1:18.4276 1.8401 0.0797 29 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
21 5 Pato O’Ward 1:18.6224 2.0349 0.1948 7 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
22 20 Conor Daly 1:18.8007 2.2132 0.1783 24 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
23 48 Jimmie Johnson 1:19.8877 3.3002 1.087 29 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
24 59 Max Chilton 1:20.1985 3.6110 0.3108 23 Chevy Carlin
25 45 Santino Ferrucci 1:21.3815 4.7940 1.183 22 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
26 52 Cody Ware 1:24.0268 7.4393 2.6453 22 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing
27 4 Dalton Kellett No Time Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises

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