By David Morgan, Associate Editor
NASHVILLE – Will Power struck the first blow of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix weekend by leading Friday’s opening practice session.
The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet jumped to the top of the board with a lap of one minute, 16.4042 seconds to finish the session just ahead of current NTT IndyCar Series points leader Alex Palou.
good start. Certainly had good cars here last year. Just the race is a very different story to being quick in practice and qualifying.
“Good start,” Power said. “Long weekend. But very determined to start at the front. That’s been the issue. Starting at the front in Iowa is okay, but it’s very easy to pass there. If I wasn’t the first across the line in Toronto, would have been starting certainly better than sixth, maybe first. Then you have a legitimate shot at the win, otherwise you don’t.”
Though he came away with the top speed on Friday, it wasn’t a completely clean day for Power as he ran into trouble in the waning minutes in the Turn 1/2 complex, bouncing off the Turn 2 wall and coming to a stop just before making additional contact with the wall on the opposite side of the track.
After sitting stationary for a moment, Power was able to get his car pointed back in the right direction and returned to the track.
“I just locked a little bit on the way in, thought I was going to make it, and just did it really. It didn’t knock the suspension off, but it was enough. It’s not ideal,” Power explained of the incident.
Power added that while there was no apparent damage after the hit, the team will have a more thorough look at it and likely would end up repairing that area of the car before getting back on track on Saturday.
“It didn’t look like it, but I would change the front corner. They’ll probably change it. You can’t sort of have a hit like that. Just got it, locked up a bit, boom.”
Arrow McLaren teammates Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward finished the session third and fourth, with the most recent street course winner, Christian Lundgaard, rounding out the top-five.
Colton Herta finished practice in sixth place, followed by David Malukas, Romain Grosjean, Scott McLaughlin, and defending race winner Scott Dixon making up the top-10 fastest drivers.
Rookie Linus Lundqvist, who is running his first IndyCar Series race this weekend in relief of Simon Pagenaud in the No. 60 Meyer-Shank Racing Honda, had a solid start with an 11th place run on Friday.
With day one in the books, Saturday will be a busy day for the drivers and teams, starting with an hour-long practice session at 11:40 am ET, which will be followed by qualifying at 2:45 pm ET. They will round out the day with a half-hour final practice at 6:25 pm ET. All of Saturday’s on-track action will be televised on Peacock.
The third-annual Music City Grand Prix will kick off on Sunday at Noon ET, with an estimated green flag at 12:30 pm ET on NBC.