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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

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COLUMN: NTT IndyCar Series heads to Nashville with five races left in 2023

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With just five races remaining this season, the NTT IndyCar Series heads to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of the city.

After a pair of dominant performances from Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden leading to two wins at Iowa Speedway two weekends ago, the series is back in action for the final stretch as they approach the season finale on Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca. 

Entering the weekend, Newgarden trails Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou by 80 points in the championship standings and has an opportunity to inch closer to Palou just 20 miles from Newgarden’s hometown of Hendersonville. 

Since the inception of the Music City Grand Prix in 2021, Chip Ganassi Racing is the only team to have won in Nashville with Marcus Ericsson’s victory in 2021 and Scott Dixon’s victory in 2022.  Heading into Sunday’s race, there are a few drivers I have my eye on who may wind up in victory lane Sunday afternoon. 

Personal thoughts: 

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin 

After an impressive performance in qualifying on Saturday evening, Scott McLaughlin will be starting in the pole position. The New Zealander struggled in 2021 on the streets of Nashville with a 22nd place finish but responded in 2022 by coming in second place. 

McLaughlin was six tenths of a second faster than the second-place qualifier in Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward. The driver of the No. 3 seems to have plenty of speed in his car for a win come Sunday afternoon. 

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou 

Entering Sunday’s Music City Grand Prix, Alex Palou holds an 80-point championship lead over Newgarden with just five races left. Although Palou looks to be in a promising position for his second career championship, a poor result Sunday could allow Newgarden to close the gap.  

Coming off a pair of solid results at Iowa Speedway, Palou will look to have another incident-free race on Sunday.  

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden 

A sweep of the weekend at Iowa Speedway two weeks ago has Josef Newgarden entering his hometown race on a roll. Although he still has quite a bit of points to make up if he wants to fight for the title, a win Sunday alongside a mediocre performance from Palou would allow him to close the gap.  

My prediction to win: Scott McLaughlin 

My longshot to win: Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean 

The green flag will fly at noon EST for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville. Sunday’s race will surely be close and entertaining with high drama similar to 2021 and 2022. 

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