Welcome to Nashville, home of both the grooviest trophy and the worst race of any event on the IndyCar schedule. This mile-and-a-third of tire-eating concrete is often a bit of a downer because despite solid attendance the race itself often becomes a single groove of high-speed parade. While the good folks at Firestone have a huge local presence, if this event continues then perhaps a Macy’s sponsorship might be more representative.
So sayeth last week's winner (from TSO):
A common complaint from the drivers after qualifying was the lack of a second groove so far this weekend. Ryan Hunter-Reay put it in this slightly understated way: "I hope we have a second groove tomorrow for the fans, or else it could be a little processional."Bonus points to the Hunter for the descriptive vocabulary.
The obvious favorite this week would be Scott Dixon, attempting this weekend to win his third straight race here at Nashville. I said “would be” because last week’s brain freeze at The Glen has opened the door this week for a very different Cheat Sheet.
Favorite: Boredom. "Nashville’s concrete surface is rough and eats through Firestone Firehawks like Homer Simpson through a box of donuts. This creates the infamous rubber marbles up high, which effectively keeps the track to just one racing groove down low." - Chris Estrada of Indy Racing Revolution
Contender: Carnage. "It has been an expensive summer for the teams competing in the IndyCar Series. Now for the fourth in a series of six races in six weeks, the series heads to another venue that could produce high attrition: Nashville Superspeedway." - John Oreovicz of ESPN.com
Longshot: Passing for the lead. But we've beaten that horse to death already.
Driver to Watch: Marco Andretti. Andretti 3.0 struggled mightily on ovals his first two year, but surprisingly not here in Tennessee, recording finishes of 8th in '06 and 5th in '07. He's got his work cut out for him by starting from 11th. Oh yeah, he's also racing in an ALMS event in Connecticut this morning.
Danica Threat Level: DanCon Three. Starting on the front row and finishing with an improving progression of 7th, 4th and 3rd requires an elevated level, but this race may come down to pit stop efficiency. I think we can safely say Danicker has had her share of pit stop issues this year. Plus we're still waiting for her to have a fast car on race day.
Stat of the race: No winner at Nashville has won from a starting position lower than sixth. Lack of a second racing lane might have something to do with that.
Drinking term: "Music". With a guitar for a trophy and the a myriad of Country & Western establishments scattered throughout the area, expect Marty Reid to be dropping all kinds of references. In honor of the homeland of many IndyCar drivers, reader Jennifer suggests of "Brazilbilly".
pressdog says: "Dixon is feeling the rage, so look for him to get in front and win. This one-groove track is like an oval street race, so any kind of nutty pit strategy and short filling could win it. If not Dixon, let's call this one for Helio. He's gotta win sometime."
One final note: be sure to also follow the Indy Lights race online today, as Ana Beatriz replicates Danica Patrick's qualification by starting from the second position. Bia is good enough and has the equipment to win at some point this year, and today might be the day. Who knows - we might have dual wins by the ladies today. Or not. In any event, enjoy the show!