This past weekend, HMD Motorsports took on the Music City Grand Prix as both the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and INDY NXT by Firestone raced through the streets of Nashville, Tennessee in the final street course race of the 2023 season. HMD Motorsports had come out victorious in all three previous street races, with wins from three different drivers. The season commenced with Danial Frost’s triumph in St. Petersburg, followed by consecutive wins in Detroit’s doubleheader weekend by Reece Gold and Nolan Siegel. As the pressure mounted to clinch the fourth and final street race of the season, HMD Motorsports arrived in Nashville fully prepared for an intense battle.
Last season, HMD Motorsports won the inaugural INDY NXT by Firestone Music City Grand Prix with Linus Lundqvist leading the race from start to finish. In the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, David Malukas was on his way to a top-ten finish before he was crashed out of the race.
Coming up to speed slowly during the weekend, HMD Motorsports finished the two INDY NXT by Firestone practice sessions with a best finish of third and second, as the team’s remaining seven drivers filled in the rest of the field. In the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, David Malukas continued to build on his strong finish in Iowa and finished the first practice session in seventh. Prior to the start of the INDY NXT by Firestone qualifying session, a storm rolled through the city and flooded the track surface, forcing the series to cancel qualifying and set the grid based on entrant points. Currently leading the championship, Christian Rasmussen and Nolan Siegel would line up on the front row for the INDY NXT by Firestone Race. For the first time in the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, David Malukas advanced through the three qualifying rounds, and qualified for the race in fifth, his best result on a road or street course.
After dealing with rain all weekend, race day brought sunny skies and high temperatures to the city of Nashville. Starting the day, INDY NXT by Firestone took to the grid first for their 35-lap race. With the race grid set by entrant points and not their speed and ability on the 2.17-mile circuit, drivers throughout the field had the opportunity to drive toward the front, while other drivers struggled to maintain their position. At the start, Rasmussen was able to maintain the lead as he quickly created a gap to the rest of the field. Starting from second, Siegel struggled to maintain position as he dropped back to fourth. With a strong start, Ernie Francis, Jr. gained two positions and moved up to ninth. As the field settled in for the next few laps, Francis again began moving up through the field and by lap ten, he had gained two more positions into the seventh position. Just past the halfway point, Christian Bogle drove just off the racing line and contacted the wall. Able to limp his way back into the pitlane under caution, the HMD Motorsports team made quick work replacing his front wing and sending him back out as he remained on the lead lap for the restart.
Back under green conditions, Francis continued his drive up through the field as he passed his teammate, Danial Frost, for sixth and began putting the pressure on Nolan Siegel for the fifth position. Francis’ run up through the field came to an end after gaining five positions after he hit the wall with 11 laps to go. With cautions breeding cautions, another yellow came out four laps later when Danial Frost was involved in a racing incident, ending his day. As the battle for third heated up in the final three laps, Nolan Siegel had to settle for a fifth-place finish as Christian Rasmussen earned his third win of the season and extended his championship lead. A consistent run from rookie Josh Pierson, who missed the doubleheader Detroit race weekend, yielded him a top-ten result as a rookie in his first trip to Nashville where veterans dominated the proceedings.
Taking the green flag just after the INDY NXT race, David Malukas made quick work in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as he moved up to fourth at the start of the 80-lap race. However, soon after completing his first pit stop of the day, a mechanical failure resulted in Malukas’ rear wing collapsing on the car and forcing him to retire early from the race.
Immediately switching back into race mode, both INDY NXT by Firestone and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend alongside the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Cup Series in an action-packed weekend. In a one-day event, INDY NXT will practice, qualify and race throughout the day on Friday while the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will practice and qualify on Friday in preparation for their Saturday afternoon race.
Weekend Schedule · Indianapolis Motor Speedway *All times EDT
Friday, August 11
9:00am – 10:30am NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice
11:00am – 11:50am INDY NXT by Firestone Practice
12:30pm – 2:00pm NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifying
2:20pm – 2:40pm INDY NXT by Firestone Qualifying
4:00pm – 4:30pm NTT INDYCAR SERIES Final Practice
4:55pm – 5:55pm INDY NXT by Firestone Race, 35 Laps
Saturday, August 5
2:00pm – 4:30pm NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race, 85 Laps
Photos: RTD Media / Penske Entertainment