The Real Drama of IndyCar's Nashville Race Was on Twitter Between Josef Newgarden and Romain Grosjean

Scott Dixon may have nabbed himself a career record on IndyCar's all-time wins list, but everyone was talking about Newgarden and Grosjean's crash.

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Gif: IndyCar / NBC

Sunday, the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix concluded with a thrilling lap and a quarter sprint on the streets of Nashville for the checkered flag. Six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon held off his compatriot from New Zealand and sophomore driver Scott McLaughlin to seal the win. The race victory was the 53rd of Dixon’s IndyCar career, putting him second on the all-time wins list, only behind A.J. Foyt. However, this brief dash only happened because a red flag was thrown when a car was punted into the wall. But the story to come out of Nashville, happened behind all of that.

During a restart with five laps to go, Penske’s Josef Newgarden got a tremendous run as the field went over the start line. From eighth place, he immediately flew past Andretti’s Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta for seventh and sixth. Newgarden has his sights set on passing a third Andretti car for fifth place through the first corner after the restart. He threw his car between Romain Grosjean and the inside wall. As the pair rounded the corner, Newgarden couldn’t hold his line and made contact with Grosjean, sending the Andretti driver into the wall and out of the race.

IndyCar Series: Music City Grand Prix Postrace Show (FULL) | Motorsports on NBC

Josef Newgarden finished sixth in the race and said in a post-race interview:

“Welcome to IndyCar. It gets tight. You know he’s been on a worse end of that. I don’t know what to tell him, you know. Good thing I was ahead. That’s the biggest thing. You’re gonna want to be ahead of this guy on this type of moment. But yeah, it’s tight street course racing.

Let me tell you what, I could about got taken out six times myself. You know, probably gonna need to have some discussion with some of the younger guys. But, they’re just, they’re aggressive. They’re very aggressive. And if you’re not aggressive back, then you get run over. So that’s IndyCar racing. You got to learn that pretty quick. I don’t like it, but that’s the game that we’re in.”


During the race broadcast, commentator and former driver James Hinchcliffe saw it differently while watching a replay, noting, “I think the 2 went in with a little bit too much speed. You know there’s no way Romain saw him coming. He was three cars back when Romain turned in.” It’s difficult not to agree with Hinchcliffe when seeing from how far back Newgarden divebombed his car to get alongside Grosjean.


The incident was clearly Newgarden’s fault, but several drivers essentially posted that Grosjean deserved it on social media. Romain Grosjean, a second-year IndyCar driver, has raced his competitors quite aggressively this season, including a notable incident in Alabama where he and Graham Rahal made light contact.


It also doesn’t help Grosjean’s case with his new colleagues that he entered IndyCar as a ten-year veteran of Formula 1 and survived a near-fatal fiery crash in his final F1 race. The Frenchman was voted IndyCar’s Most Popular Driver by the fans in his rookie season with nearly a third of the vote.


There has been animosity towards Formula One stars from IndyCar’s veterans for at least a decade. In a 2013 interview in Forbes, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Hélio Castroneves said of Formula One’s drivers, “I only like drivers that you can count on your fingers and that’s it. The rest of it is just prima donna drivers and spoiled kids.” That small group of drivers essentially amounted to his friends and everyone else automatically put in the latter category. Things haven’t changed since then, with Newgarden’s teammate Scott McLaughlin discounting any criticism over the incident as mean tweets from F1 fans.

Racing incidents and rivalries happen in motorsport, but as a lifelong IndyCar fan, this clique mentality is different and has always rubbed me the wrong way.