Indycar Moves Season Finale From Downtown Streets To Nashville Superspeedway Amid Nfl Construction

FILE - Christian Lundgaard (30) comes through a turn during the Music City Grand Prix auto race Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. IndyCar will move its September season-ending championship finale from the downtown streets of Nashville to the superspeedway in Lebanon because of construction surrounding the Tennessee Titans new NFL stadium, organizers announced Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
FILE - Christian Lundgaard (30) comes through a turn during the Music City Grand Prix auto race Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. IndyCar will move its September season-ending championship finale from the downtown streets of Nashville to the superspeedway in Lebanon because of construction surrounding the Tennessee Titans new NFL stadium, organizers announced Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
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IndyCar will move its season-ending championship finale in September from the streets of downtown Nashville to the superspeedway in Lebanon nearly 40 miles away because of construction surrounding the Tennessee Titans' new stadium.

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix has been a smashing success racing down lower Broadway and using a bridge as part of a tricky track layout.

Big Machine Label Group chairman and founder Scott Borchetta said Wednesday he started overseeing the Sept. 15 race in December and spent several weeks reviewing plans before determining the event had to be moved.

“I don’t see that we can properly race downtown until that stadium is completed,” Borchetta said. “We all have a great desire to to race IndyCars in Nashville. We have a great desire to return to the streets when we can.”

Groundbreaking for the Titans’ new stadium is scheduled for Feb. 29 but the stadium won't be ready until the 2027 NFL season.

Borchetta said the old stadium was central to all IndyCar operations, particularly hosting the paddock and team hospitality. That, combined with the NFL schedule not being released until May, created uncertainty. Other construction in the honky tonk district of Lower Broadway also make racing in that area more challenging.

“We all just looked at each other and said, ‘You know what? We’re we’re trying to put 10 gallons in a 5 gallon bucket for this year,’” Borchetta said.

The IndyCar race has a contract in Nashville through 2026. The superspeedway is not unfamiliar: IndyCar has run eight times at the track, with Scott Dixon winning the final three races from 2006 to 2008.

Race organizers have maintained their relationship with the Titans, and Borchetta praised the support of the city of Nashville and new Mayor Freddie O’Connell. Borchetta said the pit stop competition will be held in Nashville on Friday of race weekend with rooftop parties in the honky tonk district.

Helicopters will make sure top clients get from downtown to the superspeedway on race day.

“We are going to keep the aesthetic of Nashville,” Borchetta said.

The track is owned by Speedway Motorsports and is a 1.33-mile, D-shaped oval. It will be the first oval since California Speedway in 2014 to host the IndyCar championship. The change means IndyCar will finish the season racing on three straight ovals.

Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment president and CEO, said he was gratified by the early response to the change after talking with drivers and some fans.

“We think we can have phenomenal racing on the oval and at the same time have one amazing party weekend and take advantage of all that Nashville has to offer,” Miles said.

Dixon said fans should still expect a tremendous show despite the change of venue.

“I have some fond memories of Nashville Superspeedway. The racing was always intense and strategy was always key," Dixon said. "Add the fact that it’s now hosting the season finale and I have no doubt it will make for a fantastic show. While we’ll miss being on the dtreets of Nashville in 2024, I look forward to returning to a place that has been special to my career.”

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AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed.

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing