Nashville, Tenn. (7 August 2021) – Meyer Shank Racing returned from the INDYCAR ‘summer break’ in a big way with the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix through the streets of Nashville. The event weekend saw the return of four time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves to the MSR stable along with MSR regular Jack Harvey.
After getting their first taste of the track on Friday, it was go time on Saturday as the field was set for the first-ever running of the race on the streets of Nashville.
Harvey qualified the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda sixth while Castroneves wheeled the No. 06 Transcard Honda to qualify 15th for Sunday’s 80 lap event.
It was the first time this season that the field of 27 Indy cars were in a level playing field as all of the drivers took to the streets of Nashville for the first time.
Castroneves made his INDYCAR return after winning the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 with Meyer Shank Racing. The Brazilian driver only had one single day test at Portland since the Month of May before making his debut in Nashville onboard the No. 06 Transcard Honda entry.
Getting used to the tricky and bumpy street circuit both Castroneves and Harvey continued to make improvements through the first two practice sessions on Friday and Saturday morning.
Harvey’s No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda – which has special SiriusXM “The Highway” signage for the Music City weekend – was quick from the start as Harvey built speed with every session.
Castroneves was the first to take on qualifying in Group 1. With a significant number of on track incidents in practice, Castroneves and the team decided to go out on alternate tires in hopes of laying down a fast lap early on in the session.
Unfortunately the session got off to a slow start with a car buried in the wall on the out lap. Once back on track, Castroneves made improvements in the No. 06 Transcard Honda to close out the session with a 1:16.347-second lap, placing him 15th on the starting grid on Sunday.
Harvey took the controls for Group 2 which saw him lay down competitive lap times each time around the 2.17-mile circuit. Harvey’s final lap moved him up to P3 in Group 1 which advanced him to Fast 12 qualifying.
With a very close running field, Harvey took on the Fast Twelve. Unfortunately while on his final fast lap of the session, the yellow flag was deployed for a car in the wall. Although Harvey did not advance into the Firestone Fast Six, he believed that his final lap would have been good enough to advance into the Firestone Fast Six again.
“If we were able to finish our final lap without that yellow, I think we would have been right on the edge of transferring, but I’m pretty happy with the day,” said Harvey who will start the race from sixth on the grid. “At the end of the day, it was a pretty good performance by everybody on the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda and everyone at Meyer Shank Racing has been doing a really, really, good job and these are the kinds of performances we want to have. Maybe it could have been a little bit better, I’m sure we’ll dissect it tonight and find a few more tenths to try and improve. We’ve put ourselves in a good position to go and have a good Sunday.”
Castroneves wished to have qualified farther up the field but knows that there is more to the Transcard Honda for Sunday’s race.
“I would have to say MSR is doing a great job,” said Castroneves. “They gave me all the information that I needed. Honestly, because the field is competitive and having not raced since May, it just takes a little bit longer than I expected but we’re fine, we’re right there. Our plan was to take a little bit longer with the reds because every time I go out there it’s something better, something better, something better. Tomorrow is another big day, another learning day.”
The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will have live coverage on NBCSN starting at 5:30pm ET. Radio coverage will also be provided on SiriusXM Ch. 205.