By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
During one of the only caution periods during Sunday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Downtown Nashville, one of the most unusual events took place that took out David Malukas and his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda. Despite the early ending to the race, the weekend was a good take-away for the driver unknown of his future plans.
On Friday, Malukas rolled off the truck fast posting the seventh fastest time of the first practice session. Saturday’s practice session was a throw-away session with heavy rains and puddling all over and proved to be no indication of how conditions were during qualifying or Sunday’s race.
Malukas turned the third fastest time of group one and squeezed his way into the Firestone Fast Six finishing sixth. He improved one position during the Firestone Fast Six to fifth earning his second straight top-five starting spot of the 2023 season.
Sunday’s race was looking to be a solid afternoon as he moved up to fourth early, taking the position from NTT Data IndyCar Series points leader Alex Palou. Malukas would bring his No. 18 HMD Honda down pit road for the first time at lap 11. As he was coming back around, the engine caught fire and melted the bracing for the rear wing and it ultimately gave way in turn nine.
The damage would end the day for Malukas and relegate him to a 27th-place finish. It would be his first DNF since Toronto and his worst finish since Road America earlier this year. It’s his seventh finish outside the top-20 this season which currently has the Chicago, Illinois native sitting 17th in NTT Data IndyCar Series points.
“It’s really unfortunate what happened today,” said Malukas. “We had our best street course qualifying of the season, making it into the Firestone Fast 6 yesterday for the first time this season. So, we knew we had a good car and we were really hopeful to turn that into a good result today.
“Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be for us. I feel bad for the entire Dale Coyne Racing with HMD team because the guys work so hard and we were all looking forward to having a strong race and good result.”