It was a wild race from Nashville. Some have referred to it as Crashville. Although the crash damage for many teams wasn’t exactly where they would want it to be, I thought it was an entertaining race. As Colton Herta pointed out, sometimes you need a wildcard race to spice things up, that is certainly what we had in the Music City Grand Prix on Sunday. Romain Grosjean and Josef Newgarden tangled late, leading to an entertaining post race Twitter bout between Newgarden and fans. Crazy restarts where the green flag wasn’t thrown soon enough, and at the end of the day, Scott Dixon winning to close the championship standings to just six points back of Will Power. The Power Rankings after Nashville.
NEW TO THE TOP 10
1. SCOTT DIXON: (UP 1) - He’s my pick for the championship and has been since the misstep at Indy. The Indy 500 is the only race this season where Scott Dixon has finished outside of the Top 10. He would be a runaway for the title if not for that 1 mph infraction at the 500. I don’t see Dixon moving from the top of this list for the remainder of the year.
2. JOSEF NEWGARDEN: (UP 2) - He’s been consistent, and takeout the hard crash at Iowa, he would be leading the championship. However, he sits 22 points back of the lead with Gateway next on the list. He’s won the last two races there and is the favorite again in 2022. I think he’s the biggest threat to take the title from Dixon.
3. WILL POWER: (UP 2) - He’s the current points leader by six over Dixon and didn’t have the best day in Nashville. Power has been the second most consistent driver in the series this year behind Dixon. The championship might easily be decided by who wins the final race of the season at Laguna Seca.
4. SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: (UP 3) - McLaughlin still has an outside shot at winning the championship but he will need some help from the drivers in front of him to overcome the 58 points deficit he currently faces. WIth that being said, it’s been a hell of a year for the IndyCar sophomore who has two wins and snagged another podium and pole position over the weekend at Nashville. He’s quickly becoming a fan favorite by his racing on the track and fun off of it. The Bus Bros are great, and he is always good for a few quotes to the media.
5. MARCUS ERICSSON: (DOWN 4) - It's been a frustrating summer for the Indy 500 champ. He has just 1 top 5 finish since Indy and hasn’t contended for a win since Road America. He still sits 12 points back of the lead in the championship, but two finished outside of the top 10 in the last two races won’t get it done.
6. ALEXANDER ROSSI (NOT PREVIOUSLY RANKED) - Rossi has been on a roll despite being penalized for the win in the Grand Prix at Indianapolis last week. He was involved in some contact and even ran his car off the track at Nashville, only to battle back to a 4th place finish. He is making the most of his remaining days at Andretti Autosport.
7. ALEX PALOU (DOWN 4) - Whether you blame him or not for the off track distractions, Palou has been a consistent top 10 runner this season and throughout the summer stretch of the season. He’s 33 points back of the championship lead and will need at least two wins to win the title, or more important the awkward hug between him and Chip Ganassi if he does win a second consecutive championship.
8. PATO O’WARD (NO CHANGE) - O’Ward was great in Iowa a few weeks back with a 2nd and a win. Since, it’s been a 12th and DNF for the #5, all but eliminating him from championship contention.
9. CHRISTIAN LUNDGAARD (NO CHANGE) - The rookie backed up his 2nd place finish at Indy by qualifying 3rd at Nashville and finishing 8th. He was third before the red flag came out and was out experienced by his fellow drivers, shuffling him back to 8th. He’s had the best year of any of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing drivers and could score another top 10 at a very technical track at Gateway next week.
10. FELIX ROSENQVIST (NOT PREVIOUSLY RANKED) - Here is a guy going about his business not knowing where he will be next year. He shot down rumors about not having a contract with Arrow McLaren SP in 2023 and has made the most of an up and down summer. He’s had three straight top 10s since his wreck in race 1 at Iowa and will go for broke over the final three races to prove he belongs in the #7 car for 2023.
Nashville was a blast and once again, I am ok with a wildcard race on the schedule. In fact, I would take what we saw over the weekend over a snoozer of one yellow and a driver leading 75 of the 80 laps on the day. The crowds seemed pretty good despite the fact that Sunday saw lightning delays and temperatures reaching close to 100 degrees. IndyCar needs to take a look at putting a few races on the season at night. I realize it would be expensive to run Nashville at night, but Gateway and one or both of the Iowa races should be run under the lights. The checkered will fall next week in St. Louis at dusk.
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