After the first dual race in Detroit was shortened yesterday, the second one more than made up for it on Sunday. Sebastien Bourdais returned to victory lane, after wild and frantic finish to the weekend doubleheader at Belle Isle. The first half of the race was relatively calm, but the second half was the exact opposite. There was the drama of rain or slick tires, drivers short on fuel, a timed race, and plenty of wrecked race cars. Unfortunately, many of the cars taken out of the race were at the hands of their own teammates.
This is the 33rd career win for Bourdais, was able to hold off a hungry Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal to take the top spot on the podium for KV Racing. Just outside of the podium were Tristan Vautier and Marco Andretti. Conor Daly did a marvelous job filling in for the injured James Hinchcliffe, and finished sixth. There were eight Hondas in the top nine, but Chevrolet got the one that mattered most.
There were plenty of frustrated owners after Sunday’s race. Chip Ganassi was less than thrilled that his ace Scott Dixon (3rd in points) was taken out of the race by teammate Charlie Kimball towards the end while battling for position up front. Roger Penske saw two of his championship contenders, Will Power and Helio Castroneves, taken out at the same time after making contact. AJ Foyt, who voiced his frustration with Sage Karam earlier, saw the young Ganassi driver take out his cars multiple times. Despite the incidents, Foyt’s drivers managed to finish second and seventh on Sunday.
After the race, Karam explained one of the instances he had with Hawksworth.
Juan Montoya started the race on Pole as the field was set by entrant points, due to a James Jakes crash during qualifications. Montoya led the most laps (35), but finished in 10th place after running out of fuel at the end of the race. The Indy 500 winner wasn’t the only championship contender to have trouble on Sunday. Tony Kanaan and Simon Pagenaud were 13th and 14th, in what was a weekend to forget for the Brazilian. Power was 18th, Castroneves 19th, and Dixon finished 20th. Josef Newgarden also had a rough weekend, finishing 21st after a very hard crash.
This was the first win for the four-time Champ Car Champion since July of last year at Toronto. He crossed the line 1.7644 seconds ahead of Sato, and had the fastest lap of the race. Despite all of the carnage, Montoya retains his lead in the championship, which is now halfway finished. There have been seven different winners in the eight Verizon IndyCar Series races this season.
The championship points standings at the halfway point of the season:
- Juan Montoya
- Will Power (-21)
- Scott Dixon (-63)
- Graham Rahal (-69)
- Helio Castroneves (-70)
The next race on the schedule is the Firestone 600 under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6. It’s a return to the ovals, and a return for NBC Sports Network, who will air the rest of the races this season. Coverage for the Firestone 600 begins at 8 PM ET on NBCSN.
Will Power: “I’m proud of the Verizon Chevy team and we were in good shape, despite the weather conditions. We had a bit of a steering problem and went toward a different strategy, then made good ground on the restarts. But going into the wall toward the end was a bad way to finish and I’m obviously disappointed. But we will look toward a better result in Texas.”
Juan Montoya: “We had a really good Verizon Chevy today. It was really good in the rain as we jumped out to a big lead. It looked to be a nice day for the team. I don’t really agree with what happened on the next-to-last restart, but that’s a conversation I will have. We gained points on Will (Power) with a 10th-place finish so it’s not a terrible day.”
Helio Castroneves: “The Hitachi Chevrolet was really good today, especially in the dry. We made some different strategy calls, which were actually starting to pay off there at the end of the race. Unfortunately, we got caught up in an incident between Will (Power) and another car and it ended our race. We were easily going to crack the top five or top six, so it’s frustrating to not be able to finish. But it’s racing and you have to move on.”
Conor Daly: “Well, that was very interesting. Such a crazy race up and down but our Arrow car was fantastic the whole time – wet and dry. To lead the race, and to lead the race with the strength that we did, makes me over the moon. We got a little bit unlucky with the yellows but to come back and finish sixth, was so great. It was my goal to try and be here at the end of race two. I almost had a tear in my eye because I enjoyed it so much. It was wild and crazy, but I’m just happy to have it here and have a great finish.”
Sage Karam: “Today was a learning experience for sure. I knew we had a good car after we led the qualifying session before it was canceled. The whole team did a great job with the car and getting it right for me today. But I made some mistakes out there and you can’t get penalties and expect to win races. I learned a tough lesson today and I’m going to put it behind me and go to Texas with more experience under my belt. I know what I need to do to improve to help this team be successful.”
Scott Dixon: “There were a ton of different strategies and the race seemed to change every lap there after halfway. We just kept trying to make something happen in the Target car. Someone made a lunge at Charlie’s (Kimball) car, Charlie tried to cross over and then I guess he just didn’t see me and we got into the wall. Overall, I think our car was really good. We had a top-three car. It was just a crazy race out there today for sure.”
Tony Kanaan: “Another bad day for the 10 car. We worked our way up from 13th to get into the top five and we had a solid strategy when we were planning on the race being timed. When that last yellow came out, we knew we could make it on fuel but when they threw the red we had to come in before the last restart. I know we had a good car and after the team rallied back after our incident yesterday. I felt good about today’s race. It’s just frustrating to know how much potential we have every race and then to not be able to get the results we want.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “It was just about as nerve-racking as it gets. When we elected to stay out I was like, ‘Oh, man, it’s all or nothing.’ All I could hope for was the same scenario as NOLA (with) complicated conditions and one yellow after another. It was the right call again today. The difference is we obviously deserved it because the boys worked really hard and we were on the pace, we passed a bunch of cars and made the moves when it mattered. We made it stick all the way to the end. When we got on the Firestone red tires I was like, ‘Boy, that’s way too early.’ It just felt like it was a risky move, but I knew it was the right one just like yesterday. I just couldn’t be any happier that we made it stick.”
Takuma Sato: “It was a long race, but it was a fantastic show. It was difficult to overtake today with the greasy conditions, but after we made a good call and the boys did a fantastic job with the pit stops. How may restarts did we do? I can’t remember. Every restart was very exciting, especially the last few. I made a couple positions up on a good move. Congratulations to Sebastien (Bourdais) on a good win. We needed a little bit more (for the win) but it was a great day for AJ Foyt Racing. (On the restart where he overtook Montoya) It was supposed to be a steady acceleration, but Montoya had to brake and I had to brake as well. It wasn’t clean really.”
Graham Rahal: “(Today’s result) helped a lot. Yesterday was brutal. That’s the nice thing about this doubleheader. We reversed our roles from last year. Last year we had a good first day and a bad second day. At least this year I’m leaving here getting on the airplane on a good note. (Looking at next week) All I know is we had a good run of it in the ‘500’ and we’re going to keep working hard here and keep getting points. We’re fourth in points now, just one or two ahead of Helio (Castroneves) and seven behind (Scott) Dixon. We’re just going to keep fighting because we can hang with these guys, so we’ve just got to keep working hard and we’ll be there.”
Tristan Vautier: “I’ve been out of an IndyCar for a year and a half and today I was able to finish fourth. Hats off to the team for making the perfect calls today on strategy. It really paid off for us. The car was really good. You know, it was chaos out there, but you couldn’t be too conservative because if you were too conservative you would just get passed by everyone. It was a fine line between aggressive and keeping the car in one piece, but we found it today so it is amazing. A big thanks to Dale Coyne for having me drive for his team this weekend and thanks to all the guys. It was an amazing experience and I hope we can do more together.”
Simon Pagenaud: “It was an interesting day. We qualified second in our group but unfortunately qualifying got canceled when the second group couldn’t finish because of the weather. That was a setback for us. We started eighth and the car was set up for dry conditions. We needed it to dry quicker than it did. When it finally started drying at the end of the race we were at our best and we were doing great, racing up into the top five. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay there with some strange rulings there at the end. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t bring the PPG Chevy home in the top five. We definitely had the pace for it. We will just recover and move on to Texas. I’m really excited about Texas.”
Carlos Munoz: “I think I had a couple of good first few laps – I went from 11th to fifth, and I was catching (Scott) Dixon. I suddenly lost power and I saw smoke in the rear. We aren’t sure what happened. We got the win yesterday, and it’s a shame we can’t finish a great weekend. I think we were looking really good, but this is racing. We’ll just concentrate and look ahead to Texas next weekend.”
Marco Andretti: “Decent weekend for points. We really lost the back end (of the car; we were struggling there but we salvaged what we could. I really wish we could have gotten (Tristan) Vautier though. In the end, we’ll take a podium and a top five. A few more laps of green (flag conditions) at the end of today would have gone a long way for us.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “Things just didn’t go our way this weekend and that continued in Race Two. Our strategy was the right one, however, when the race was shortened at the end it saved most the cars running in front of us. The biggest mistake was taking primary black tires instead of the softer red option tire. We were surrounded by cars on reds in low-grip conditions and just didn’t have enough grip at the end. We’re bound to break through soon. Looking forward to getting the No. 28 DHL Honda back up front where it belongs.”
Josef Newgarden: “Tough day, tough conditions. I made a mistake and threw it into the wall and cost us a decent result today. I feel bad about that; that’s not something you want to do, but unfortunately those things do happen sometimes. I have to work on being error-free on my side for next time and do a better job for the Hartman Oil boys. They did a good job and I had a good car. CFH Racing was great. Now it’s on to the next one to try and redeem ourselves.”
Charlie Kimball: “It was just really tough conditions throughout the entire weekend in Detroit, especially today. I feel really badly that I made contact with my teammate. I honestly didn’t even know he was back there and if I would’ve known it was him there would have been a completely different outcome than what happened. I understand the importance of the one-team mentality here at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and I hate that the race ended that way for Scott (Dixon) because of me. It was a rough weekend for the whole team and I think we’re all ready to move on to Texas and have drastically different results there.”
Race Photos via IndyCar