Honda, Herta Dominate Qualifying for Inaugural Music City Grand Prix

Colton Herta crushes large field in Nashville for second street circuit pole of 2021
Defending INDYCAR champion Scott Dixon completes front-row sweep for Honda
Honda drivers take five of top six starting positions in frantic NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 6, 2021) – Colton Herta dominated NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying today on the downtown Nashville temporary street circuit that will be the site of Sunday’s inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, scoring his sixth career pole and second of the season in his Andretti Autosport Honda.

Herta’s qualifying edge of just over a half second in his Andretti Autosport Honda was huge by INDYCAR standards, and came after he also led the opening round for Firestone “knockout” qualifying. Herta’s other pole this season came on the St. Petersburg, Florida, street circuit and his run today was the sixth pole of the season for a Honda driver.

Fellow Honda driver Scott Dixon will start on the outside of the front row, second, in his best qualifying effort since he qualified on the pole for the Indianapolis 500 in May, and is the third front-row start of the season for the six-time champion for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Dixon’s teammate, Alex Palou, qualified third fastest today. But the current championship points leader will start ninth after an issue in pre-race testing resulted in an “unapproved” engine change, resulting in a six-place grid penalty at the next event.

Alexander Rossi now will start third in his Andretti Autosport Honda; with fellow Honda drivers Romain Grosjean (Dale Coyne Racing with RWR) and Jack Harvey (Meyer Shank Racing) completing the top six on the grid. The 27-car field for Sunday’s 80-lap race is the largest of the season outside of the Indianapolis 500.

Big Machine Music City Grand Prix Honda Qualifying Results
1st Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Honda
2nd Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
3rd Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Honda*
4th Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Honda
6th Romain Grosjean-R Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda
7th Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Honda
10th James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Honda
13th Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
14th Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda
15th Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Honda
17th Santino Ferrucci Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
18th Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
24th Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
25th Jimmie Johnson-R Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
26th Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda
27th Cody Ware-R Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda
R – Rookie

  • — Qualified third, but will start ninth due to a penalty

Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport Honda) Pole qualifier, his sixth career INDYCAR pole and second of 2021: ““I mean, it was a good lap but what we did in Q1 [the first qualifying round] really helped us there with being able to transfer [to Round 2, by only using the harder compound] ‘Black’ (primary) tires. “That was the biggest thing, is being fast on the blacks. It was really just made it a lot easier for the rest of the way. Great job by everybody; great job by the team. The car is fantastic. As you can see what we’re able to do on the black laps compared to everybody, we’re really in a league of our own. So, it felt amazing. A good car to take into the race tomorrow, too. Nice and stable. So, yeah, really excited [for the race tomorrow].”

Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) Qualified Second: “I knew the PNC Bank #9 was super-fast; the Honda’s have been super-fast all weekend with drivability and just power, I think. That’s been a positive. The car was just really fast. We knew Herta was going to be fast because he was the only guy with new [softer compound ‘Red’] tires, and he’s been quick all weekend. He definitely deserved [the pole], so kudos to that group. We’ll see how tomorrow plays out, but starting on the front is fantastic for us.” [How do you win on this track tomorrow?] “Go fast, take chances.”

Fast Facts
This is the sixth pole of the season for a Honda driver. Other poles this year include Colton Herta at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg; Alex Palou in the first race of the Texas Motor Speedway doubleheader, and Scott Dixon in the second race; and Romain Grosjean at the Indianapolis GMR Grand Prix.

Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the city streets of downtown Nashville will be the inaugural running of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.

Previously, INDYCAR and the Indy Racing League conducted eight races on the 1.33-mile Nashville Super Speedway oval in Lebanon, Tennessee, from 2001-2008. Honda drivers and teams won five of the six races the manufacturer contested from 2003-08.

Honda winners at Nashville Speedway include Tony Kanaan in 2003, and Dario Franchitti in 2004. Scott Dixon won three consecutive races on the Nashville oval, from 2006-08, in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Where to Watch Sunday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix
Live NBC Sports Network race coverage of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix begins at 5:30 p.m. EDT Sunday, August 8. Additional coverage can be found on the INDYCAR Radio Network and on Sirius/XM satellite radio.