Not even a two-hour red flag and missing chunks of concrete could stop Scott Dixon on Sunday.
The Kiwi led every single lap of the race from pole position, with teammate Dario Franchitti finishing behind him to give Chip Ganassi his second 1-2 finish in a row. Chip’s teams have never done that before. It was Dixon’s 28th career win, and Franchitti’s 28th career runner-up finish.
Simon Pagenaud finished third, completing the Honda sweep of the podium. Will Power and Oriol Servia rounded out the top five. Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Charlie Kimball, Mike Conway, and Alex Tagliani completed the somewhat surprising top ten finishers.
It was another great performance for Servia, who went from 17th to fifth today. In the six races this season, he has gained a total of 74 positions on track. Pagenauad has also been great, grabbing his fourth top-six finish in six races this year. He is sitting in sixth place in the Championship.
The first 38 laps of the race were uneventful, with Dixon having a half-lap on the rest of the field and virtually no passing (thanks to EJ Viso). After that, things literally began to come apart.
James Hinchcliffe went into the tires on lap 39 after running over a piece of cement that lifted his front tires off the ground. Takuma Sato found the wall moments later. It was then discovered that many parts of the track were coming apart. The race was red-flagged for two hours.
The cars returned to the track after getting a fresh set of Firestone tires. Everyone was supposed to keep the same tire compound that they had when the yellow flag was thrown. Some teams tried to put on reds but were caught and forced to put on blacks.
The race was shortened to 60 laps, and the restart came on lap 47. Dixon faked Power out on the restart, and Pagenaud was able to jump into second. A light rain came across some parts of the track, and Helio Castroneves spun, then was struck by Ed Carpenter. A few other cars also ended up spinning due to the moisture. Helio was running in fifth at the time of his spin.
Franchitti made a late charge on the last two restarts, getting a runner-up finish after starting in 14th position. Power’s lead in the Championship is now just 26 points over Dixon. Castroneves remains in third, while Franchitti and Hinchcliffe are tied for fourth.
Obviously the track situation was a small black eye in what was a really good weekend for IndyCar. Anytime you have a red-flag situation for more than two hours, people are going to be upset. There were plenty of reasons to be frustrated, but everyone handled the situation well, and the finish was excellent. Beaux Barfield and race control made great decisions given the circumstances. The track held up well after the repairs, the distance was perfect, and allowing the teams to change tires was the way to go.
The return to Detroit was due to the efforts of Roger Penske. None of his Chevy drivers were able to grab the podium on Sunday though. After two straight 1-2 finishes, rival Chip Ganassi is letting it be known that his team is back.
After the Indy 500 last Sunday and Belle Isle today, the IndyCar Series now heads to Texas for the Firestone 550 on Saturday night. The race will be televised on NBC Sports Network at 8:00 PM.