Dixon snatches improbable victory in another crash-strewn Nashville race


Posted on

| Written by

The story of the second Music City Grand Prix in Nashville was a bit like the first: Littered with incidents, disrupted by full course cautions and a late red flag, and an unlikely winner that was caught up in an accident not of their own making, that should never have been in position to win by the end.

But after starting 14th, getting hit from behind in a track-blocking multi-car incident, suffering diffuser and suspension damage, and pitting six times including emergency service for repairs – despite all of that, Scott Dixon somehow found himself in victory lane at the end of it all, holding on by just over a tenth of a second from his Kiwi compatriot Scott McLaughlin in second.

On lap 26, Dixon was hit from behind by Dalton Kellett and Simona de Silvestro, while he and Callum Ilott were checking up as Graham Rahal ran into the back of title contender Pato O’Ward. O’Ward suffered terminal gearbox damage, and Rahal also suffered heavy damage to the front end. Their wounded cars stacked up the field behind them in turn seven, including Dixon, who had nowhere to go.

O’Ward retired and finished 24th, suffering a critical blow to his championship chances.

Dixon’s golden ticket to the front of the field came just after making a fuel-only pit stop on lap 50. Another incident for Rahal and Rinus VeeKay brought out the caution one lap later, vaulting Dixon from 15th place, to the net lead of the race. The six-time IndyCar champion drove over half the race on a single set of the harder, primary compound tyres, but had enough pace in hand to withstand McLaughlin’s challenge despite a sketchy exit out of the final corner towards the chequered flag.

The win is of significance in two ways. For the history books, Dixon surpasses Mario Andretti for sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list with 53 career victories. For the pursuit of the 2022 IndyCar Series championship, Dixon now sits just six points behind Will Power for the lead in the championship. Power faded from podium contention due to a gear selection issue and finished 11th, while Marcus Ericsson lost drive with less than ten laps to go and retired from the race, credited with a 14th place result. Ericsson is now 12 points behind Power, third in the table.

Pole-winner McLaughlin led the first 22 laps, and were it not for a slow final pit stop under yellow, may have had the track position he needed to overhaul Dixon at the end of the race on newer tyres.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Ironically, a timely pit stop before a yellow flag put defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou up front. He made his first stop on lap 21, then Hélio Castroneves spun out at turn three to bring out a caution. Palou would go on to lead 31 laps, and still remains within reach of a second IndyCar title despite all of the controversy created by his attempts to defect from Ganassi to McLaren after 2022.

Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta were both a lap down after early incidents in the race. Rossi stopped at turn ten to bring out the race’s first of eight cautions, and Herta was nudged into the tyre barriers and suffered wing damage.

But the same multi-car incident that involved Dixon helped them get back on the lead lap, and they confidently drove through the pack to salvage top-five finishes – Rossi in fourth, and Herta in fifth.

Josef Newgarden went off-sequence and led twelve laps after the incident between Rahal and VeeKay, eventually finishing sixth. Newgarden’s restart attempt with five laps to go saw the Nashville, Tennessee native try and pass three cars in one corner, but in doing so, he pushed Romain Grosjean into the wall at turn nine. This brought out the eighth caution and a red flag.

Felix Rosenqvist finished seventh, while Christian Lundgaard, who was pressuring Dixon for the lead before the penultimate caution, sunk down the order on the last restart, and finished eighth, with Simon Pagenaud and Jack Harvey rounding off the top ten. It’s Harvey’s first top ten finish of 2022, and it comes despite having to yield position to Pagenaud for avoidable contact on the last lap.

This race had eight full-course cautions, one fewer than last year’s inaugural Music City GP. After the incidents involving Rossi, Castroneves, and then the lap 26 pileup – Devlin DeFrancesco and Takuma Sato crashed at turn ten to bring out the fourth caution, leaving the veteran Sato unhappy with the rookie DeFrancesco.

After the Rahal/VeeKay incident, rookies David Malukas and Kyle Kirkwood crashed out while battling inside the top ten. Both drivers were okay after the hard hit into the turn nine barriers, causing the sixth caution. And with eight laps remaining, Jimmie Johnson spun coming off the transition from the Korean War Veterans’ Memorial Bridge into turn four, broadsiding the barriers with the right side of his car, to cause the seventh caution.

With 36 out of 80 laps were run under yellow, IndyCar’s trip to Nashville was a gruelling slog of a race, and that’s not even considering the 90-minute weather delay caused by thunder and lightning storms in the area. But it was far from uneventful, and could be a turning point in the championship with three races left.

The series returns to action on 20 August for the St. Louis 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Music City Grand Prix results

19Scott DixonGanassiHonda
23Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
310Alex PalouGanassiHonda
427Alexander RossiAndrettiHonda
526Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
62Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
77Felix RosenqvistMcLaren SPChevrolet
830Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
960Simon PagenaudMeyer ShankHonda
1045Jack HarveyRLLHonda
1112Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
1221Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
136Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
148Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
1577Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
1628Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
1720Conor DalyCarpenterChevrolet
1848Jimmie JohnsonGanassiHonda
1918David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
2014Kyle KirkwoodFoytChevrolet
2151Takuma SatoCoyne/RWRHonda
2229Devlin DeFrancescoAndretti SteinbrennerHonda
2315Graham RahalRLLHonda
245Pato O’WardMcLaren SPChevrolet
254Dalton KellettFoytChevrolet
2616Simona de SilvestroParettaChevrolet


Browse all IndyCar articles

Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

19 comments on “Dixon snatches improbable victory in another crash-strewn Nashville race”

  1. Sorry, watched this farce on TV. Doesn’t merit to be called a race. And this street course in not a race track. I admire Scott and he has a great record and for that I have no problem him being the one who got the finish flag first.
    But too many drivers just caught out by accidents of others; almost careless actions by some as if there were no walls around the track. Some real amateur driving.

    Indycar has a good field with many who can score results in every race. Today was not a good show case for the attractiveness of the series.

    1. landofthefreehomeofthebrave
      8th August 2022, 1:40

      Still more professional than Ferrari!

    2. Yeah, watched it. I thought it highlighted some of the best and worst of Indy.

      Indy has some top tier driver talent, I found myself quite excited watching the end of the race

      It also felt like I was watching junior Formulae. That track was an absolute embarrassment, it’s not even comparable to Europena junior formulae which actually takes place on tracks. It was too narrow, to bumpy, too dirty, too dull, it look like amateur hours. In addition to that, like junior Formula races, some of the driving was straight up amateurish. While the those at the front were brilliant, some of the others were just absolute clows. The sort of stuff that should get you race bans.

      I desperately want Indy to become a great category. America’s answer to F1 in a way. But I don’t know if that will ever happen. There is just something about the way the show runs that feels so inferior. For example, would it cost too much to paint the damn track properly? To properly paint sponsor logos? To maybe shave the old asphalt a bit (even though it should be resurfaced for racing)?

      Indy has the driving caliber, at least enough of it, to be a very very good category. The cars are low tech, but good enough. In some way, they have a lot of what F1 wants: more driver engagement as opposed to electronic aids, clean aero that allows for close racing, and quite a bit of parity, allowing for many many drivers to have chances to win. But the show is lacking massively. Other than Indy 500, everything else looks like amateur event organizing

  2. @gmp

    Have to agree with GmP, this was not real racing and hard think of it more than anything but a spectacle for tv that the drivers are forced to do.

  3. It was very entertaining. I watch sports to be entertained. I just don’t understand the hate this race has received two years in a row.

    1. @Steve K Not to be disrespectful but this is the problem where traditional car racing is heading. Real car racing is being dumbed down and transformed to some kind of easy tv entertainment for ratings for casual viewers.
      It’s more like its being catered for ones who prefer watching checkers than a chess game. There’s different levels of entertainment, Nashville is more like checkers and much less about true talent, execution of strategy and competition. May I suggest an encore to the Sunday entertainment, by streaming ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

  4. some racing fan
    8th August 2022, 3:20

    This race was a total crash-fest. 7 full course yellows… they need to re-think this track. Because it just isn’t working.

  5. Simply Loveleh
    8th August 2022, 6:34

    It seems different rules in this series about what American drivers and do and say to others. Always has been I suppose.

    They love to bully Grosjean at every opportunity as well.

    Newgarden deliberately sticks Grosjean into the wall, then completely unrepentant rubbing salt into the wound saying ‘welcome to Indycar’ as if pushing someone into the wall is racing.

    If you look at the line all the other cars on the inside took out of that corner you see Newgarden half a car’s width too wide.

    The overreaction to a storm at the start (should have been a 15 minute delay at most), the yellow flags, red flag for one lap at the end didn’t bother me I just forward through it but would have had me leaving early if I was a spectator.

    You can’t have circuits like this in a series where drivers are at the level of dirt track racers.

    Any other series in the world there’d be a penalty on Newgarden then a sanction for basically admitted he hung him out to dry putting him into the wall.

  6. If I wanted to watch a demolition derby I would drive out SR 61 from Muscatine to the Hawkeye Speedway on Saturday night. This garbage does not belong in Indy Car.

  7. I’m gonna be controversial here, but whilst yes it was a crash fest and yes there were too many yellows (and I’m never a fan of a late red if its here or Baku), but..

    the actual racing under green was good. There was a lot of overtaking for a street circuit and some good clean moves. The clean restarts had some fantastic battling thru the field. A failed overtake could result in you losing spots.
    Just a shame those moments won’t be remembered.

    They desperately need to do something with the North section tho. That’s not even fit for FE, never mind IndyCar.

    1. The ending was very good. But obviously there’s going to be a lot of carnage because it’s so tight. Indy 500 to Road America, to the craziness of the Nashville street course, IndyCar races on the most crazy diverse tracks in the world.

    2. @eurobrun The Nashville race track they had to race on was more fit for bicycle racing than for Indy size cars.

  8. That was just a lottery, little to do with racing. The “track” is atrocious and I think every team came out with a net loss (USD$) due to damaged parts.
    And the gearboxes are apparently vulnerable to a hit from behind, they’ve done such a good job making the nosecone crash structure rigid to withstand the “rubbin’ is racin’ ” -ethos they race that the rear might need a redesign.

    That said, Never Count Out Dixon. Every year, he just finds a way.

  9. I’ve been really enjoying Indycar this season but that was a poor race. So many moves made as if the walls didn’t exist.

    I can imagine how someone like Grosjean could be waking up a bit puzzled today. He pushes someone a bit wide onto the grass on a road course and gets pelters for it. He gets shoved into a wall in Nashville and it’s “Welcome to Indycar”.

    It seems that if you’re an outsider or a rookie then rubbing is not racing, but if you’re an established series driver then you can get away with all sorts of contact.

  10. This is a part of why i’m not a fan of the direction things are going in terms of just adding street circuits as new venues because all too often they tend to be terrible circuits that come down to been a crash strewn lottery rather than an actual race that features good racing.

    It’s why I got so turned off Champcar towards the end where they were throwing so many ‘Street festivals of speed’ at the calendar which were basically all terrible & vanished after just 2-3 years of writing off cars at a time most teams in the series couldn’t really afford to be suffering so much damage. And it wasn’t even all crash damage as some of those tracks were cracking the chassis due to how badly thought out they were running over tram lines & stuff.

    There are so many fantastic permanent natural terrain circuits around which Indycar (And F1 for that matter) could be racing on (As well as some good ovals in Indycar’s case) that it’s a shame to see them seemingly only focussing on these terrible street circuits.

    And to be clear I don’t really even hate street circuits, It’s just that there tends to be more awful one’s than good one’s & again it’s frustrating that the bad one’s tend to get picked above some of the great permanent circuits.

    1. The problem with this is that IndyCar will go where there is people to watch. If they go somewhere like Watkins Glen and nobody bothers to show up to watch, then they will find someplace where people will come. Nashville circuit obviously has issues – the two races run there were bordering on unsafe – but the event is a sellout, despite the “race” being quite crap. And when they last ran on Fontana it was one of the most spectacular races ever, yet nobody saw it. Go figure.
      The series and the promoters are in business to make money, and for that one needs paying customers. If you provide great racing product on road circuits or ovals but nobody shows up, you’ll go where the customers are even if it’s a crappy street circuit prone to crashfests. And that’s why we’re where we are now.
      But as recent Iowa race has shown, with right kind of promotion one can make people come to oval races too, so there’s indeed some hope for the future…

  11. This race reaffirms my dislike for most street circuits, the only one I think is decent is Singapore.

    I stopped watching after the big wad up and was shocked to read Dixon won. Felt bad for O’Ward. Nashville track is too tight. It ranks right up there with St Petersburg for crappy tracks.

  12. Only watched the ‘highlights’ (some dozy overtaking move that ended in a crash, then a restart, a normal overtake, then another crash, repeated several times until the flag) and it reminded me of the worst of Formula E. Not a good advert for Indy.

Comments are closed.