“The best driver will win” in Nashville IndyCar, says Rosenqvist

Felix Rosenqvist believes IndyCar’s new Nashville street course is so challenging that victory will go to the best driver, while his peers concur that a track such as this emphasizes driver more than car.

“The best driver will win” in Nashville IndyCar, says Rosenqvist

Rosenqvist finished opening practice for Sunday’s Music City Grand Prix in seventh, top of the Chevrolet runners on a 2.17-mile course that favors the Honda engine characteristics. The Arrow McLaren SP driver’s fastest lap matched that of Alex Palou, but was ranked behind him as he set his best time slightly earlier than the Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda ace.

“I think my street course experience definitely helps with this course,” said Rosenqvist. “It is a fun track and really tricky.

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“The straight after the bridge, where you are bottoming out, is just nuts. I had a really big moment there at the end of the session. Apart from that, it is really smooth and straightforward.

“Those high-speed kinks really upset the car, but it is a fantastic track.

“It’s going to be a good challenge and take the best out of us. The best driver will win.”

Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Will Power, who ended up just 0.017sec behind Rosenqvist – albeit 0.66 off the fastest driver of the day, Colton Herta – had agreed with Herta that at tracks such as these, the aim is to have the “least worst” car.

Asked how much he felt speed at Nashville was down to driver and how much was down to car, he replied: “The driver really is the one that gives the feedback to put the car in the best possible [window] with the best possible setup and tools that the driver needs to get the lap together.

“Then it's up to the driver. It's 100 percent up to the driver once you get to qualifying and you've got your setup, because then it's all about putting it together.

“It's always hard to put a number on [driver/car percentage]. I mean, a good car on an oval can make a bad driver look good, and a bad car can make a really good driver look bad.

“Street courses, it certainly sways a lot more towards being a driver's track, I would say. Then as you get to a road course, it's smooth, starts to head the other way. Then ovals it's very much about the car.”

“I agree,” said Herta. “I think the crazier the street circuit gets, the bumpier it gets, the more technical it gets, it's more up to the driver to find different opportunities, different corners, different lines to get the maximum amount of speed.

“This is one of those places where there's definitely some different lines, different corners, bumps in weird spots during the corners that you can figure out some tips and some secrets."

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Palou, who leads the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series by 39 points but lost the Indianapolis 500 to veteran Helio Castroneves, said: “I think that's the beauty about IndyCar, right? We get those ovals where the teams, they can show a bit more. Obviously then experience, as well, it shows as we saw during the Indy 500!

“Street courses, it's a lot about the driver. I mean, you’re going to have a good car. I think all of us three [Palou, Herta, Power], we have good cars. Maybe that's why we say it's more about the driver.

“But, yeah, it's true that maybe on street course a driver can do a bit more than on a road course and on ovals.”

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IndyCar drivers relishing "violent" bumpy Nashville track

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