NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 7, 2021) – Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian earned the NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position in Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying for the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in downtown Nashville.
Herta, who was fastest in both practice sessions this weekend, continued to dominate the speed charts with a lap of 1 minute, 13.6835 seconds (102.601 mph) on the 2.17- mile temporary street course to secure the NTT P1 Award
and top starting position. The pole was Herta’s second of the season – the other came at St. Petersburg – and sixth of his career. He is expecting quite an opening lap in this 80-lap race featuring the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Nissan Stadium campus.
“I think this is going to be the craziest start of the year,” said Herta, who has converted his last three pole positions into victories. “We're going to be going quite quick from where the start zone is going into off-camber a second-gear corner. That's like 60 miles an hour, 70 miles an hour. So definitely, it's going to be interesting. “There's not a whole bunch of ways to bail, turn into the corner. If guys are committing three-wide, it could get a little bit messy. You're probably expecting to see something happen on the opening lap, in the opening corner.” Herta was followed by the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of six-time series champion Scott Dixon and current championship points leader Alex Palou. Dixon will start second after his lap of 1:14.2327 (101.842 mph) while Palou will start third with his lap of 1:14.6316 (101.298 mph). “This track is busy, man,” Dixon said of this technical and challenging layout. “That's the best description you can give it. There's no rest part. Even the straights are bumpy. Getting into the braking zones after the straights are really difficult because the car is really loaded, change of direction, things like that. It's a tough track.”
Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six qualifying shootout, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi (1:14.6646 / 101.253 mph) will start fourth, Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist fifth (1:15.0045 / 100.794 mph) and rookie Romain Grosjean sixth (1:15.3980 / 100.268 mph). Nashville’s Josef Newgarden of Team Penske will start 12th (1:15.5062 / 100.124 mph) in the 27-car field but incurred some misfortune in qualifying. In the second round of the three-round format, he crashed into the Turn 11 wall on his final lap. The incident caused damage to Newgarden’s car and also caused his fastest lap in the session to be invalidated for causing a local yellow condition. His invalidated lap was fast enough to have advanced him to the Firestone Fast Six. “I was just trying to make up the deficit from yesterday and today,” Newgarden said. “Pretty pumped for tomorrow. Just wish we were a little higher up. Trying to claw some performance there and just overpushed. You can’t wreck and not get penalized. That’s on me. That’s how it works.”
Sunday’s schedule will feature the NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup at Noon CT and will be followed by the second race of the weekend for both Crosley Stadium SUPER Trucks (1:45 p.m.) and GT America (2:45 p.m.). The inaugural race weekend culminates with the 80-lap Big Machine Music City Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES race beginning at 4:30 p.m. (NBCSN). The musical entertainment will be highlighted by the Grand Ole Prix concert featuring the Oak Ridge Boys on the main stage beginning at 7 p.m.
Notes: In addition to receiving the NTT P1 Award, Herta also received the Bryan Clauson Pole Award, which paid tribute to the late racer and helps promote the event’s partnership with the Tennessee Donor Services to raise
awareness for organ and tissue donation. Clauson was just 27 when he lost his life in a 2016 racing accident, but his decision to be an organ donor saved lives. His parents, Tim and Diana, and sister, Taylor McLean, were on hand to present the award. “Yeah, first time I got to meet them, which was really nice,” Herta said afterward. “I didn't know Bryan, I never got to meet him. What he was able to do in Sprint cars, even coming over to INDYCARS, is really awesome. Yeah, it was awesome to meet them. To get the Bryan Clauson Pole Award is really special; a really cool trophy that kind of remembers him. That's definitely one that will go into the trophy case.” … Palou qualified third but will start ninth Sunday, though, as he will receive a six-position grid penalty for an unapproved engine change after testing last month. … Mike Skeen went wire to wire to win the Trans Am race over Thomas Merrill. … Robby Gordon outdueled Matty Brabham by .5046 of a second in a dramatic final-lap dash to win the Crosley Stadium SUPER Trucks race. Robert Stout finished third in the timed, 11-lap shootout. James Sofronas won the timed GT America race. … The Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge will be lit tonight and Sunday evening in red, white and blue to commemorate the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. The lighting is courtesy of the Big Machine Music City’s partnership with the Martha O’Bryan Center.
For more information on the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, visit musiccitygp.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @musiccitygp. Limited single-day grandstand seating and general admission tickets are available at musiccitygp.com/tickets, Ticketmaster.com or by calling the Tennessee Titans’ ticket office at 615-565- 4650.
About Big Machine Music City Grand Prix:
Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is a three-day international festival of speed and sound featuring the NTT INDYCAR® SERIES, SRO GT America, Trans Am and Crosley Stadium SUPER Trucks racing series. The event
aims to create a comprehensive world-class international destination event that highlights Nashville, Tenn., the Music City and the Mid-South region. It will include music, food, culture and entertainment centered on the speed,
technology, skill and excitement of up-close urban INDYCAR and other forms of racing. As a privately funded event, Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is owned and operated by 615GP, LLC. More information is available at