This weekend IndyCar returns to the Nashville street circuit – perhaps the only track on the calendar that could allow a crashing airborne car in the early laps to emerge as the race winner – for a second time.
That was Marcus Ericsson who toppled over Sebastien Bourdais on lap five before going on to win the race through good strategy and holding a charging Colton Herta at bay late on.
The big change for 2022 is the restarts, which produced controversy last year. The race starts on the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, and then subsequent restarts were held in front of the main hospitality viewing areas last year.
However, the final corner – a 90-degree right-hander labelled Turn 11 – caused cars to stack up and ultimately crash on multiple occasions last year. For 2022 the organisers have listened to the complaints and will both start and restart the race on the bridge heading towards Turn 9.
Linked to this, Turn 11 has also had its apex widened by four feet, which should help drivers getting through there.
One area that might not have changed for the better is Turn 9 at the end of the bridge which was so wide last year it allowed for multiple racing lines, and opportunities for overtaking and errors.
That has now been made narrower from 85 feet to 60 feet – to install more hospitality suites – which IndyCar claims will make the corner slower and “offer more passing”. I’m not convinced, but the proof will be in the race on Sunday.
Other areas that have been changed are linked to re-paving and re-profiling the surface. A very nasty bump at the quick Turn 5 flick to the right has been softened, while the transitions on and off the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge have also been improved.
Before last year’s race those transitions were repaved for 20 feet but this year it’s been 125 feet to combat the violent bumps, especially off the bridge into Turn 4 where the cars got unsettled.
In other changes, Pusр- to-Pass will be available from the traditional finish line before Turn 1 rather than immediately at the new restart point on the bridge.
The pitlane speed limit has been lowered from 45mph to 40mph to add three seconds of time, roughly, on to pitstops.