By David Morgan, Associate Editor
NASHVILLE – As if the Nashville street course wasn’t challenging enough on its own, Mother Nature decided to up the ante for NTT IndyCar Series practice on Saturday morning, throwing rain and a wet track into the mix.
The second practice of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix weekend was originally scheduled for 11:40 am ET and a planned hour-long session. However, with the rain causing standing water at certain points around the 11-turn, 2.1-mile course, the session was eventually shortened to just a half-hour to allow the drivers and team some on-track time prior to qualifying this afternoon.
When all was said and done, Marcus Ericsson, the winner of the inaugural Nashville race in 2021, was at the top of the board with a lap of one minute, 31.7999 seconds – a much slower clip than the dry times run on Friday.
“It was just good to get out here when it’s raining,” Ericsson said. “Obviously, it’s not that long until qualifying starts, so I’m assuming it might start wet and that would be good for us, I think.
“I thought [qualifying] was really good in Toronto in the wet. I was fastest there when it was fully wet and fastest again today in the wet, so it seems I’m doing alright in those conditions at the moment.”
Ericsson would be followed by Rinus VeeKay on the timing sheet, along with Will Power, Scott McLaughlin, and rookie Marcus Armstrong to round out the top-five.
The remainder of the top-10 went to six-time series champion Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, hometown hero Josef Newgarden, current points leader Alex Palou, and rookie Augustin Canapino.
Summer weather in the South can be unpredictable and rain may be a factor in both qualifying later on Saturday at 2:45 pm ET and the main event at Noon ET on Sunday.
Should it come to that, count VeeKay as a fan of qualifying and racing in the rain.
“It is nice to have that bit of rain experience, which is very unknown to everyone here,” VeeKay said. “It might still be wet in qualifying, and it might also rain in the race. There’s a chance. To be fast in the rain like this is very promising and it gives me good confidence.
“This brings opportunity. You can really let the driving do the talking here.”