Graham Rahal had a sensational weekend at Belle Isle in Detroit. On Saturday he earned his first pole in eight years, then followed it up with his first victory of the 2017 season. That apparently wasn’t satisfying enough, so he went out and got another victory on Sunday. Graham is just the second IndyCar driver to ever win both races during a double-header event. Scott Dixon won both races in Toronto during the 2013 season.
Rahal led 41 laps today, after leading 55 in Saturday’s race. Neither drive was easy, but he made it appear that way. HIs dominating performance this weekend vaulted him from 15th to 6th in the championship standings heading into the next race. That race also happens to be Texas, where he is the defending race winner.
Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Will Power rebounded from poor results on Saturday, and earned podium finishes today. Simon Pagenaud finished fifth, giving Roger Penske three cars in the top five at the event that his group operates. The other driver that finished in the top five on Sunday was Takuma Sato. After winning the Indianapolis 500 one week ago, Sato put his Andretti Autosport Honda on pole this morning in qualifying.
Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 2 Box Score
A mishap on pit lane hurt Scott Dixon on Sunday, but he still managed to finish in sixth. Dixon has finished in the top-six in seven of the eight races so far this season. The lone exception was the Indy 500, where he started on pole, but had that terrifying accident with Jay Howard. Even though he hasn’t yet won a race this season, Dixon now leads the championship by eight points over Helio Castroneves with nine races remaining.
Alexander Rossi continued his impressive 2017 campaign on Sunday. After another top-five finish on Saturday, he came home in seventh position today. Had it not been for an early penalty for blocking teammate Marco Andretti, he may have even had a better result. Charlie Kimball was eighth, and a pair of veteran Brazilians named Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan rounded out the top ten in Race 2 on Sunday.
The two Foyt machines driven by Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly just missed out on the top ten, as they finished 11th and 12th. A late caution for James Hinchcliffe and Spencer Pigot (both mechanical) brought out the red flag with three laps remaining. A two-lap shootout to decide the race was on display for the fans, but Rahal was never challenged.
After a busy Month of May at Indianapolis, and two races less than a week later in Detroit, the series now heads to the great state of Texas. Just five days from now, practice and qualifying will take place at Texas Motor Speedway. The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 will run under the lights on Saturday night. Race coverage begins at 8 PM ET, as NBC Sports Network will televise the remaining nine races of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
Simon Pagenaud: “We definitely improved a lot overnight. The entire Penske team did a good job analyzing how we could do better in today’s race and it showed. A lot of it here in Detroit comes down to strategy. It’s not an easy race. Even if you have the fastest car, you aren’t always going to win. My hats off to Kyle Moyer (race strategist), Ben Bretzman (engineer) and the entire No. 1 team. We were saving fuel pretty much the whole race, but the car was still phenomenal. It’s not exactly what we want – we want to be up front more – but it was a decent day for the DXC Technology Chevy team.”
Josef Newgarden: “I’ll be honest, I think we were all just trying to get to the end. There were just two laps to go and we had marbles all over the tires. In that type situation, there’s not much you can do. You want to say you’d be able to go race this guy and try to beat him. And I would have done that if he messed up; if he made a mistake, I would try to capitalize. But if everyone stays steady, we are just trying to hold on to the race car. It’s very difficult to do that at the end. When it’s your weekend, it’s your weekend. (Race-winner Graham) Rahal did a great job. It’s a good bounce back for us at Team Penske in the hum by Verizon Chevrolet. It’s good to be in Detroit. Thanks to all the fans that came out and Chevrolet for all they do. It’s fun to be in this city. I was trying to get Chevrolet that win but just didn’t have enough today.”
Helio Castroneves: “The Hitachi Chevy was great again today. We had a little bit of bad luck there with Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and getting a tire cut down. It was early enough that I thought we might be able to overcome it, but we didn’t get a caution until the very end. I wish we could have done better with our finish, but our car was strong. We’ll head to Texas which is always a lot of fun.”
Conor Daly: “It was a good race for us the whole way through. Felt like we had decent pace enough to stay in the top 10 with the ABC Supply car. Just our luck the yellow comes at the end. We didn’t need that. It was a shame because as soon as we went green I had no front grip. I just couldn’t hold my position. It was a shame for it to end like it did – this team deserved to be in the top 10.”
James Hinchcliffe: “Obviously not the end of the day we wanted. The race started out OK, maintained position, and then unfortunately when we were committing to that three-stop strategy, I sped from the pits. That’s on me, my fault, which put us to the back again – second day in a row. And it was the second day in a row that the No. 5 Arrow car was awesome; we managed to pull our way through the field and get ourselves in the top 10. We were up there with a couple laps to go and unfortunately had a motor go on us. It’s tough to go out that late in the race, especially when we worked so hard to come back up and right the mistake I made earlier in the day. It just showed that we’ve got the pace, and big thanks to everybody at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for all the hard work this doubleheader weekend – at least Mikhail (Aleshin) had a solid finish for us. We’ll move on to Texas where we were quick last year and hopefully we can repeat that again this year.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “That was not exactly the result that we wanted to have today. We had some technical issues, but we’ll take it and move forward. We have so many races left in the season, and the next race is the famous Texas Motor Speedway. I like that track and we were good and fast there, so let’s move on and see what we have there.”
Max Chilton: “We just didn’t have the speed today and we were really struggling most of the day with balance. We were quicker than most of the cars in front, but we just couldn’t get past them. I feel like I did the best that I could. It’s time to move onto Texas and keep working hard for the results I know the Gallagher team is capable of.”
Scott Dixon: “The problem on the pit stop really hurt us today. I think there was a problem with the fuel probe and normally we’re really good in that area. That issue just cost us some crucial time and we tried to play catch up after that. I think (Josef) Newgarden finished second and we were ahead of him before that. It was unfortunate how it played out, but all-in-all a decent points today considering.”
Tony Kanaan: “Another tough day for NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing – really just a tough weekend overall here in Detroit. We struggled both days in qualifying and just couldn’t ever get back up to the front in either race. We had an issue in the pits today that cost us a few spots with a drive-through penalty, but after a 15-place finish yesterday, we’ll take a top 10. It’s still nowhere close to where we need to be, but I’m always happy when we head into a race at a place like Texas where I know how strong we can be.”
Will Power: “Yesterday was just unlucky when the yellow came. We kind of went halfway between a two-stop and a three-stop. We went longer than the three-stop guys. I was saving so much fuel yesterday that I was too slow. The guys did a great job with the strategy today. I’m very happy with third. Today was much more representative of the car we had this weekend. Thanks to all of the guys, Verizon and Chevrolet.”
Carlos Munoz: “First off I want to say thank you to my ABC Supply No. 14 crew. I think they did a really good job to fix the car from qualifying to the race. They had to change the engine and rebuild almost half the car, so a big thanks to them. It would have been nice to be in the top 10, but I think from where we started 22nd to finish 11th wasn’t bad. To get a good strategy today was really tough because there were no yellows at all so we couldn’t do any strategy. But I think we were more competitive this weekend so that’s positive. We’ll keep working and hopefully we’ll have a good car at Texas.”
Graham Rahal: “Buckeyes like to win up in this state. It was just a good weekend – thanks to the crowd, thanks to Roger Penske, Bud Denker and everybody for putting this on. It’s a tremendous event. And thank mother nature – we’ve never had this kind of luck around here. It was a great day, I’m really proud to get another win for the United Rentals guys, Turns For Troops, PennGrade, Steak n’ Shake, Hyatt, Fifth Third Bank, Honda – everybody that makes this possible. It’s a special day for us. We’re the first one to win the double (in Detroit) means a lot. It feels great, trust me. Any day you can beat a Penske driver it means a lot.”
Oriol Servia: “I’m very happy for the team and Graham (Rahal) and very disappointed in our day. We didn’t get the one lap in qualifying after the red flag, and in the race we got a drive through penalty for speeding that we cannot understand. We looked through the data and think there may have been a problem with the cruise control because we never sped, so, without a yellow, there was no way to recover from that. It was a tough day at the office, but I’m really happy with the team and the work they have done. Graham had a dominating weekend and I’m very happy for him.”
Esteban Gutierrez: “It was quite an experience. Two days of racing, two days of qualifying, one after the other. It was tough. It was a challenge to come here with no testing, straight into the car with two short practice sessions on one of the most physical tracks on the calendar. Two days in a row racing 70 laps – it was quite an experience, and an eventful race that we had today with good chances. I want to say thank you to all the team, all the crew. Fantastic experience. I really loved the experience this weekend, we have fantastic mechanics and engineers that supported me and helped me get comfortable with the car and all the procedures. It was pretty special and I’m hopefully looking forward to more.”
Ed Jones: “It was a tough race. We tried a different strategy, I don’t think it quite worked out, but obviously the contact we had is what sent us to the back and that’s what really ruined our race. It’s frustrating. It’s our first bad result of the season, and those will happen in my rookie season at some point, but we’re going to work hard and get ready for Texas.”
Spencer Pigot: “The car just lost power coming across the start/finish line. I don’t know exactly what happened, and it didn’t cost us a great finish, but it is a shame. Our races this year have been really good, this is the first weekend where we have struggled. It’s something we’ll try to learn from and make sure it doesn’t happen again. The Fuzzy’s Vodka guys have already had a long few weeks, now they have another problem to fix. Hopefully the No. 20 car can rebound next weekend at Texas and myself at Road America.”
JR Hildebrand: “It was unfortunate that we started where we did because I think we would have been up the field if we had had a fair shot at qualifying. Given where we were, we went off strategy early and were putting in good laps. We caught all the way back up to the cars that had not yet made a pit stop, so we closed the whole 25 or 30 second gap back up. At that point, I got a call to pit, but stayed out thinking that we would be able to benefit from the cars around me pulling off and pitting. I ignored the fact that we were tight on fuel and that mistake, which was 100 percent mine, put us in a place where we had a super slow lap and ended up in a gaggle of cars we shouldn’t have been around. We came into contact with another car, had a flat tire, came in, had to make an extra pit stop, went a lap down. There are some positives to take away from this weekend, we had some pace in both of the races because we figured some things out both with my driving and with the car. In the end, I’m disappointed with myself for having a small screw up each day that cost us a bunch of positions in the race. As we look to Road America and Toronto as the next couple of street circuits, we’ll be looking to put it together in those events. I feel we did well here this weekend, but it doesn’t show up that way on the stat sheets.”
Takuma Sato: “It was a solid result. I think the team did a great job. We did everything we could and made no mistakes, but we just didn’t quite have the speed today. I’m proud of getting on the front row in qualifying and we will work hard the rest of the season. I think we kept ourselves in championship contention by finishing P4 and getting points. We need to find out why we lost the speed for the race but we will look at all the data. It was a good day.”
Marco Andretti: “We just lost some unnecessary time. The car was not good in dirty air. When we were alone, our pace was good, but in dirty air we were just really bad. That’s basically the difference and caused us to switch to a three-stop strategy. We were hoping for more, and will move on to Texas.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We just missed the race setup again today. The DHL car was strong in qualifying and we started on the front row, but in the race the car was all over the place. Then we had contact with Helio that broke our front wing. We lost ground changing it and then from there we just struggled, didn’t get any breaks and spent too much time in pit lane.”
Charlie Kimball: “The timing stand made the right call with the two-stop strategy. It meant I had to save quite a bit of fuel at times, but we were still able to run a pretty good pace and get a pretty good fuel mileage number. Overall I’m happy with the day. We didn’t have any good luck or any help, but we didn’t have any bad luck either. The way this year has gone, we’ll definitely take that. We’ll take a top 10 and pick up a little momentum heading to Texas looking for a podium, if not a win next weekend.”
Alexander Rossi: “(Qualifying) this morning really hurt because we went out on used tires for the one-lap shootout after the red flag and that was the wrong decision, so we started 14th instead of towards the front. In the race, we had to really make the most of the first stint on blacks and I think we did. We made the reds last a long time, as well, so I think the car was quite a bit better than yesterday. I think seventh was a decent result considering we started 14th and it’s pretty hard to pass here.”