Unfortunate weekend for Simona de Silvestro in IndyCar at Nashville
The Indycar Nashville Grand Prix turned out to be a festival of cautions. At her third race this year, Simona de Silvestro made some good progress during the first days, but was caught in an accident on race day that ended Paretta Autosport's day early. But, luckily, the team will have one more race this year, as they announced a fourth race at Laguna Seca!
The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville has become a synonym for chaos after its two editions on the Indycar calendar.The layout is nearly unchanged from the 2021 edition and promised an action-packed weekend in what was the last round on a road course for the current season.
For the first time, Swiss driver Simona de Silvestro - driver of the #16 Paretta Autosport Dallara Chevrolet - tackled the Nashville track, aiming to collect valuable experience in what was supposed to be the third and final race of the team's part-time campaign. Luckily, though, team owner Beth Paretta announced that the team's program was extended to a fourth event: the season finale at Laguna Seca.
Practice and qualifying sessions were marked by extremely hot temperatures in Nashville, with air temperature at 90 degrees Fahrenheit with relative humidity higher than 50 percent. It was thus no easy task for the drivers in the aeroscreen-equipped Dallara, who had to deal with physically demanding sessions. Scott McLaughlin managed it the best and scored his second pole position after the Firestone Fast 6 on Saturday, ahead of Romain Grosjean and Christian Lundgaard. Simona de Silvestro qualified in P21.
On Sunday, though, a different weather proved to be just as challenging and the start was delayed for nearly two hours due to heavy rain and lightning in the area. At the race start, McLaughlin got away from pole and led the field on the bumpy track into a crash festival. Colton Herta was the first who bumped into the wall as the Andretti driver and Dalton Kellet ran close together through the corner.
The second caution was out when Helio Castroneves, chased by Alexander Rossi, just lost his car and spun. The race was green again on lap 25, when things went wrong again right on the following lap as Graham Rahal hit Pato O´Ward - who bumped into Will Power ahead. Also involved in this big sandwich of race cars was Simona de Silvestro, who could do nothing to avoid the accident and retired with too much damage to continue.
"It was bit of a difficult day", she explained. "We struggled with pace in general and then had the accident."
"I was trying to be out of trouble and got sandwiched when the track was blocked in turn nine. It was definitely a matter of wrong place at the wrong time", Simona continued.
"Life goes on and sometimes street racing is like that. You can get mixed into something not great and other times you can get a bit lucky. Lots of things to think about when we race back on a street course" - concluded the Swiss ace, who has scored a top-20 in Mid Ohio in her return to IndyCar.
The race went on, one accident after the other, with just 13 drivers ultimately completing the race. It would be Scott Dixon to make the most out of the hectic race, as the New Zealander clinched his 53rd career win and moved into second place in the championship. Dixon still managed to win after being 6 times in the pits and having recovered from last after a penalty for emergency service in a closed pit road. Second was Scott McLaughlin, ahead of Alex Palou.
The NTT IndyCar series will be back on track on 20th August at St. Louis/Illinois - this time without female participation. Despite the unlucky round, Simona de Silvestro and Paretta Autosport will have one more chance this year, at the season finale at Laguna Seca on 11th September to complete their 2022 campaign.
"I’m excited to head to Laguna", said De Silvestro. "I wish we walked out of here with a good result, but I’m really looking forward to Laguna and hoping to have a good ending to the season there."