Note: The INDYCAR Writers’ Roundtable is taking the opportunity of the summer break in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule to analyze the first 10 races of the season and offer discussion and opinions about a variety of topics in the first half of the season. This multipart series will run regularly for the rest of July.
Today’s question: What is your most anticipated race remaining on the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule?
Curt Cavin: The inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on Aug. 8 in Nashville is the obvious answer, but let me throw out the potential oval-track debut by Romain Grosjean on Aug. 21 at World Wide Technology Raceway. The prospect of seeing the former Formula One driver compete on an oval – and a short-track oval at that – definitely has my interest.
Zach Horrall: I’m eager as hell for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sept. 26. It’s a beautiful area of the United States and an ultra-cool racetrack – I love watching drivers twist around that fountain. It’s also arguably the most prestigious race outside of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, having been on the schedule every year since 1984, outside of last year’s COVID-19 pandemic-canceled race. I think there’s going to be a lot of anticipation for this one, as everyone is ready for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to return to Long Beach. But the intensity will be ratcheted up because this is the season finale. We all know how the battle for the Astor Challenge Cup comes down to the wire every season, and a championship battle on the streets of Long Beach sounds incredible.
Paul Kelly: The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on Aug. 8 on the streets of Nashville, for so many reasons. One, it’s a new race – nobody has any setup sheets or data. While the teams with more resources tend to solve new puzzles like this circuit more quickly than less-funded teams, the fact that everything is new still increases the chance of a surprise winner. Two, the circuit looks so cool, especially the out-and-back span over the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge. Three, there are a LOT of fan- and industry-oriented activities, parties and entertainment scheduled for Race Week and Weekend in Nashville, including FanFest. It really feels like INDYCAR is taking over the Music City next week, and that’s very cool.