Step One Ambassadors Compete Across Street and Speedway
Step One Ambassadors Romain Grosjean and Chandler Smith hit the track in Tennessee and Michigan with IndyCar and NASCAR Xfinity, respectively. Between a street circuit and a speedway, high-speed thrills and skillful racecraft abounded.
Romain Grosjean qualified P6 in Nashville in a delayed session, pushed back due to inclement weather which also limited practice time across Friday and Saturday. The Andretti Autosport driver got off to a lightning start, showing strong pace around the Tennessee-based circuit that saw nine drivers retire before completing the event. A total of nine lead changes occurred over the course of the 80-lap Grand Prix between six drivers, including Grosjean, who led for four laps before making his last pitstop on lap 53. The Swiss-French racer encountered a lot of traffic during his time on the track, utilizing much of his push-to-pass in the process. He took the early part of the race in stride on the black tires, then had to execute a long final stint on the alternate green tires while conserving fuel, doing so in great form. With only three laps left to run, a final restart post-red flag occurred which meant there was a sprint to the end, in which Grosjean ran clean and crossed the line in P6 at the wave of the checkered flag.
Kaulig Racing driver Chandler Smith qualified sixth for Saturday’s race at Michigan International Speedway. He made a quick move up one position at the start, before a caution period just four laps into the race in which he provided his team with feedback about his Chevy machinery’s handling. Several caution periods and restarts later, Smith found himself gathering points as he was in fourth place at the end of the first stage. His first pit stop, done during a stage caution, was multi-purpose as he came in for fuel, tires, and an air pressure adjustment. The No. 16 car finished just outside the points-paying positions at the end of stage two in 11th place. A subsequent stop included further car adjustments being executed, and Smith set about moving forward through the field, doing so successfully as he moved from 13th to 11th before the last yellow flag of the event was waved with just over 10 laps remaining. Unfortunately, on the race’s final lap, the Step One ambassador experienced a hit on his car on the left rear while battling for position, sending him into the wall on the outside and putting paid to his best efforts. He brought the car home safely, crossing the line in 20th place.
This weekend, Romain Grosjean and Chandler Smith each race again with IndyCar and NASCAR Xfinity, respectively, both in Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.