NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Josef Newgarden had no apologies for Romain Grosjean but does have some admonitions for the younger set in the NTT IndyCar Series after another wild Music City Grand Prix.
The hometown favorite finished sixth on the 11-turn, 2.1-mile street course after emerging on the more favorable side of a Turn 9 collision with Romain Grosjean on a Lap 76 restart.
Grosjean, who battled through the corner for position after Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet dove underneath, wound up in the wall with his No. 28 Dallara-Honda. The Andretti Autosport driver gestured angrily multiple times about the wreck, waving his arms at Newgarden’s car under caution.
COMEBACK HISTORY: Scott Dixon wins wild Music City Grand Prix
“Welcome to IndyCar; it gets tight,” Newgarden told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after watching the replay and deciding his move was fair. “He’s been on a worse end of that. I don’t know what to tell him. Good thing I was ahead. That’s the biggest thing. You’re going to want to be ahead of this guy at this type of moment, but yep, it’s tight street course racing.
"If you're not aggressive back, then you get run over."
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) August 8, 2022
“Let me tell you what: I about got taken out six times myself. I probably need to have some discussion with some of the younger guys, but they’re aggressive. They’re very aggressive and if you’re not aggressive back, then you get run over. That’s IndyCar racing. You’ve got to learn that pretty quick. I don’t like it, but that’s the game that we’re in.”
Last year’s inaugural Nashville race had produced nine caution flags, and drivers had predicted a smoother affair after IndyCar moved the restart zone to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge entering Turn 9.
But the collision between Grosjean and Newgarden was one of several shunts throughout the Lap 80 race, which still produced eight cautions, a red flag and piles of damaged front wings and carbon fiber.
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) August 7, 2022
Grosjean also made contact with Marcus Ericsson, leading to a snippy postrace sequence on social media between the Formula One veterans. Ericsson, who finished 14th because of a mechanical failure, also retweeted a suggestion that Grosjean applied a double standard.
It’s not the first time the Frenchman has been in the middle of controversial contact this season after feuding with teammate Alexander Rossi at Mid-Ohio and with Graham Rahal (who suggested several IndyCar drivers were unhappy with Grosjean) after Barber Motorsports Park.
He’s gotten away with much worse 🤷♂️
— Josef Newgarden (@josefnewgarden) August 8, 2022
Newgarden, who grew up and resides in Nashville, led 12 laps in trying to win with an off-sequence three-stop strategy, but the Team Penske driver remained in title contention. The two-time series champion is ranked fourth, 32 points behind teammate Will Power, with three races remaining.
“Ultimately we had a big fight back with the PPG car and Team Chevy,” said Newgarden, who has a series-high four wins. “That’s all I can say. This has been a really frustrating year in a lot of ways and the way it’s built. We’ve won a lot of races. We’ve had a ton of good luck. All thanks to the team and the effort they’ve put in, but more than not, we’re either winning the race, or things are completely going against us one way or another.
“So it’s built frustration for me because it’s hard to see that happen for this crew when they work so hard. I hate it, too. I’m very competitive, and it happens a couple of times a year where things don’t go your way. It’s part of the luck, but it’s just happened one too many times, and today was another unlucky day with just the way the whole thing played out, and you just can’t predict these races. It’s part of the game, but it can be frustrating at times.”