Welcome to IndyCar. That was the message to ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean after a bruising race on the streets of Nashville.
McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward dubbed the host city ‘Crashville’ following an incident-riddled 80-lap Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.
Two-thirds of the 26-car field had some involvement in a crash, including Grosjean who bowed out just shy of the chequered flag after clashing with Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.
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Romain Grosjean drives for Andretti Autosport (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
In the space of a few hundred metres, Newgarden passed three cars on the penultimate race restart, including Andretti Autosport trio Alexander Rossi, Colton Herta and Grosjean before the race-ending contact.
Having just got out of his car, the Frenchman wagged his finger as if to suggest Newgarden was crazy.
Grosjean waited for Newgarden to complete another lap and raised his hands in disgust as he passed by before being taken away from the scene of the crime.
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The 36-year-old took to social media afterwards, tweeting three red angry emojis.
That drew a response from Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson, who replied, “What goes around comes around.”
Speaking on the incident that brought out the red flag and set up an enthralling finish, Newgarden was unapologetic.
“I was alongside him fully, if not a little bit ahead,” said Newgarden.
“I mean, I’m already ahead of him at that point,” he added, upon watching the footage.
“Welcome to IndyCar, it gets tight. 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 want to be ahead of this guy in this type of moment. Yep, it’s tight street course racing.”
Grosjean has been a magnet for incidents this year.
Earlier in the season, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal labelled Grosjean a ‘punk’ for a fiery exchange at Barber.
Grosjean then launched a tirade directed at his teammate Rossi for a clash at Mid-Ohio that ended with the series sophomore in the gravel trap.
Nashville marked the first clash between Newgarden and Grosjean.
The American finished the 80-lap affair where he started in sixth, charging through the field late after an alternative strategy forced him to pit late in the piece.
The two-time series winner bemoaned the aggression level of the field. In all, 36 of the 80 laps were under yellow.
“I’ll tell you what, I got taken out six times myself,” said Newgarden.
“Probably need to have some discussions with some of the young guys. They’re aggressive. They’re very aggressive and if you’re not aggressive back then you get run over.
“That’s IndyCar racing. I don’t like it, but that’s the game that we’re in.”
Newgarden sits fourth in the standings with the most wins of anyone this season.
Despite having four triumphs to his credit, the driver of the No.2 car said it’s been a frustrating season on the whole.
“Ultimately, we had a big fight back with the PPG car and team Chevy, that’s all I can say,” Newgarden explained.
“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 for that they’ve put in.
“More than not, we’re either winning the race or things are completely going against us one way or another.
“It’s built frustration for me because it’s hard to see that happen for this crew when they work so hard, and I hate it too. I’m very competitive.
“It happens a couple of times a year where things don’t go your way. It’s part of the luck.
“It’s just happened one too many times and today was another unlucky day with how 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.”
The IndyCar Series continues on August 21 (AEST) with the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway.
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