Kirkwood holds off McLaughlin to win in Nashville as Palou extends points lead


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Kyle Kirkwood drove to his second win of the IndyCar season, holding off pole winner Scott McLaughlin to win the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville.

McLaughlin controlled the opening stanza of Sunday’s 80-lap race, only interrupted by an aborted attempt at a rolling start, and a Safety Car intervention for David Malukas whose car suffered a rear wing and gearbox failure coming off the Korean War Veterans’ Memorial Bridge.

It was after the first round of routine pit stops that Kirkwood first got ahead of McLaughlin. Once Alex Palou pitted from the lead on lap 45, Kirkwood properly took the lead of the race, then held it again after the second and final cycle of pit stops.

Criticised heavily in its first two years for being a crash fest, the Music City Grand Prix was largely a clean race up until ten laps remaining when Linus Lundqvist’s impressive one-off debut for Meyer Shank ended prematurely as he slid off into the tyre barriers at turn 11 to bring out a full-course caution. On the ensuing restart, Felix Rosenqvist hit the tyre barriers and left Agustin Canapino and Benjamin Pedersen with nowhere to go but into the rear of Rosenqvist.

The track was blocked and a red flag was shown, setting up a three-lap sprint finish. Kirkwood pulled away with ease to take his second street race win of 2023, in the last race around Nashville’s original layout. He led a race-high 34 out of 80 laps.

McLaughlin consolidated second place for the second year in a row in the Music City Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, Alex Palou stretched his final tank of fuel 35 laps to come home in third place. He notched his eighth podium of the season and, crucially, finished one place ahead of championship rival Josef Newgarden, in fourth.

That result gives Palou an 84-point lead going into next week’s Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which takes place on Saturday, 12 June. Only four rounds remain this season.

Scott Dixon rounded out the top five after a low-key race. Romain Grosjean led briefly but had to hang on for sixth, snapping an eight-race streak without a top-ten finish. Marcus Ericsson was seventh, demoted by race control behind Grosjean on the final restart for blocking his fellow F1 alumnus on the previous green flag attempt.

Pato O’Ward finished eighth to salvage some dignity on a tough day for McLaren, Christian Lundgaard finished ninth, and after losing his ear plugs before the formation lap, Will Power – who eventually found his ear plugs – rounded out the top ten.

With incidents for Lundqvist, Canapino, and Pedersen, Marcus Armstrong was once again the top rookie in 13th. Armstrong now leads Canapino by 31 points in the Rookie of the Year standings, despite only running on road and street circuits.

Further back, Colton Herta suffered his first retirement since the season opener at St. Petersburg, dropping out just four laps short of the chequered flag.

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Music City Grand Prix results

127Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
23Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
310Alex PalouGanassiHonda
42Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
59Scott DixonGanassiHonda
628Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
78Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
85Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
945Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
1012Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
116Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
1277Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
1311Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda
1421Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
1515Graham RahalRLLHonda
1620Ryan Hunter-ReayCarpenterChevrolet
1751Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
1814Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
197Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
2078Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2126Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
2206Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
2355Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
2430Jack HarveyRLLHonda
2560Linus LundqvistMeyer ShankHonda
2629Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
2718David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda

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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...

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4 comments on “Kirkwood holds off McLaughlin to win in Nashville as Palou extends points lead”

  1. Well… I was critical about this track, so actually quite pleased to get a relatively clean race from it finally. Kirkwood is the real deal on street circuits. He’s still young. Hopefully he can get stronger on ovals, then mount a title challenge in the next few years.
    Absolutely gutted for Linus Lundqvist. He did so well for a last minute debut with such little pre-race running. I hope he gets a full time drive next year.

    1. After the qualifying was troubled with rain, the race was troubled with scorching heat.
      Both issues are something that motorsport needs to address.
      I’m glad Newgarden was able to finish close to Palou as to keep the championship running.
      Kirkwood and Scottie Mac are supreme street racers. There’s not a single track left where Colton Herta is able to shine any more.

  2. Was a really interesting race, not relying on caution periods to mix things up. Kirkwood is really coming along strongly this year, way ahead of the other Andretti drivers at this point. Speaking of which, I fear for how long Grosjean’s moustache is going to get. He just doesn’t look capable of putitng together a consistently fast performance over a full race distance. There’s always either a mistake or an awful stint in him.

  3. That was a very fun race (as usual)! Surprisingly clean and a great drive by Kirkwood. I’d love to see Grosjean finally get a win, but wonder if that will ever happen?

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