The IndyCar Series returns from its summer break with an inaugural race on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.
After yesterday’s qualifying session, where the local driver stuck it in the wall, but who will start on pole position, and what time does the race start?
Rookie vs veteran title fight
The track design for downtown Nashville features something unique in the history of IndyCar.
Taking place around the stadium of NFL team the Tennessee Titans, the circuit loops around the car park of the stadium.
It then heads off across the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, through a very tight loop – that makes Monaco seem like Daytona – before heading back across the structure.
As is the norm in IndyCar, a Chip Ganassi Racing driver heads the standings – it’s just not the one you’d expect.
Alex Palou has starred for CGR in 2021, collecting two wins and only finishing outside the top 10 twice in 11 events.
He has a comfortable lead over Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward – twice a winner.
Palou’s team-mate, the six-time champion Scott Dixon lurks just 17 points behind O’Ward, as he seeks to retain his crown.
Tennessee native Josef Newgarden of Penske is the last driver who could claim to be in the title race.
The two-time champion sits 79 points adrift of Palou ahead of the 11th event of 16 in 2021.
Who qualified on pole position?
A stunning lap from Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport was enough to clinch a sixth career pole position.
The 21-year-old was the only driver to break the 1m:14s barrier, shaving 1.2s off his best time on his final run in the Fast Six.
His 1m:13.6835s time was over 0.5s faster than closest challenger Dixon, with Palou slotting in behind his Ganassi team-leader.
However, a penalty for an engine change will drop Palou down to ninth for the start.
Ex-Formula One driver Romain Grosjean advanced through to the Fast Six, and qualified in sixth position in his Dale Coyne Racing #51 machine.
Local boy sticks it in the fence
Newgarden, who lives about 15 minutes away from the temporary street circuit, looked good throughout practice and the early stages of qualifying.
Safely advancing from his group to the Fast 12, Newgarden clattered the wall at Turn 10 – briefly bringing out the yellow flags.
Under qualifying rules, this was seen as interference for other drivers, with O’Ward passing through waved yellows.
The #2 Penske lost his best times, was kicked out of the Fast Six, and was demoted to 12th, while leaving his mechanics a decent repair job.
NASCAR Cup expat Jimmie Johnson’s day ended very early when he hit the wall on his out-lap in the #48 Ganassi entry.
When does the race start?
For viewers in the UK, coverage of the event begins at 10:30pm on SkySportsF1, with the green flag due shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the IndyCar event will be broadcast straight after the conclusion of NASCAR.
NBC will broadcast both events, with the Cup race at Watkins Glen scheduled for an 3pm EST start.
Coverage is due to begin at 17:30pm EST on NBCSN.