IndyCars - Detroit: Twice the racing for the same price!

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Every year for some time now, the first IndyCar event following the Indy 500 has been a huge challenge for the teams, as it is only a week after the 500 and it is TWO races on one weekend, as we do…
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The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix

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The venue is beautiful Belle Isle State Park, right in the middle of the Detroit River, between Michigan and Ontario, Canada. Normally a state park that serves Detroit by a connecting bridge, the isle’s roads are transformed into a challenging street course once a year, to allow the IndyCars and support series to race.

IndyCars have been doing the Detroit Grand Prix since 1989 but eschewed downtown and started racing on Belle Isle in 1992. The course is 2.35 miles, with 13 turns and two long straights that invite passing attempts. The Belle Isle roads have been improved over the years but they remain bumpy and sometimes those bumps are in the worst possible place, making it a challenge. One of the hairiest turns is Turn 1 near pit out and it bites a number of drivers every year, and if it doesn’t Turn 2 just might.

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Making the weekend even better for area fans this year, Belle Isle has opened up the paddock to any ticket holder, all weekend. They can come in and watch the teams work and chat with the luminaries nearby. Those ticket holders will get their money’s worth, as not only are two music concerts scheduled for entertainment on Saturday and Sunday, but 5 races are scheduled for the weekend, including:

  • The Trans Am Series by Pirelli, with 2 races on Saturday and Sunday

  • The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, DPi and GTD classes, on Saturday

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…and of course, the IndyCars will hold TWO 70-lap races - One on Saturday and one on Sunday

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Let’s look at that support racing:
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The Trans Am series by Pirelli - Trans Am has always been about road and street course racing of modified, heavy-duty street cars. With a long and rich history, the series has been contested by names like Tommy Kendall, Mark Donohue, Peter Gregg, Bob Tullius and Wally Dallenbach, Jr, usually driving American muscle. Not content to live in the past, however, Trans Am carries on with modern machinery and it’s the TA2 class that will be in Detroit, featuring the likes of Chevrolet Camaros, Dodge Challengers and Ford Mustangs. It’s loud and fast. This weekend there are no IndyCar drivers involved in Trans Am, so we will wish them safe and happy racing and concentrate elsewhere.

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Trans Am TA2-class cars at Detroit

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continued…

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Support racing…(part 2)…

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The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship - The WeatherTech series is the premier SportsCar racing series in North America, featuring the most competitive prototype and GT racing on the continent. Comprised of four classes - two prototype and two GT classes - the challenge is that the classes all can be on the track at the same time, depending on the race weekend, and that means not only are cars competing against each other, but they are often moving through a field of cars also competing against each other, but at a much different pace. That’s the big challenge of multi-class racing.

This weekend the two classes which will be on track at the same time are the DPi class and the GTD class.
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The DPi class is the top performing IMSA prototype class. These are purpose built prototypes, made by the best chassis builders in the business and fitted with purpose-built and OEM-badged racing engines. These cars are Cadillacs, Mazdas, Nissans and Acuras, but you’ll never get one off the showroom floor. There are always two drivers to a car in every race, and sometimes more.

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A Mazda RT24-P DPi prototype for Mazda Team Joest

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The GTD class is the privateer or Pro/Am class of the GT category of cars - cars that look much like their street-sold brethren, but are in fact only a shell of the street version, with a complete rebuild from the inside out to be a pure racing machine. Unlike the GTLM class, these are not actually factory-raced cars, but they are usually factory-built or built to factory specs for racing. They are all built to the international GT3-spec standards and are highly competitive within the class, with much attention paid to levelling the playing field to produce great racing.

In GTD class the cars will be Lamborghinis, Audis, Acuras, Porsches, Mercedes, Lexus, McLarens, Ferraris and BMWs. The fields are typically large, as this is the least expensive class of a very expensive series. There are always two drivers to a car in every race, and sometimes more.

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A GTD-class Acura NSX- GT3 for Heinricher Racing w/Meyer Shank Racing

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We follow IMSA WeatherTech racing because there are always a large number of IndyCar and Road to Indy drivers racing in the series - most are alums but some are still in IndyCar, today, and they all frequently do us proud.

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Let’s get this thing going!

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Friday morning on Belle Isle - the IMSA gang come out for their first practice…

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Practice is that time when the drivers and their race engineers work together to adjust and maximize the car for the race weekend, considering the track configuration, the condition of the track and the expected weather for the racing. It is essential to getting the most out of any car on a given weekend.

First out to practice today were the WeatherTech gang, both classes, and we have the TOP THREE from each class and IndyCar drivers led the way:

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In the DPi class the rabbit after the P-1 session concluded was Pro Mazda alum Pipo Derani, driving the # 31 Whelen-sponsored Cadillac DPi-V.R. for Action Express, with a time of 01:20.583s for a speed of 104.984mph. Pipo bested IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves in the # 7 Acura ARX-05 DPi for Acura Team Penske by a respectable 0.252 seconds. 3rd on the charts was Filipe Albuquerque in the other Action Express Caddy, the # 5 Mustang Sampling car.

Pipo shares the Caddy with Felipe Nasr while Helio shares his Acura with former champion Ricky Taylor. Albuquerque’s co-driver is Joao Barbosa.

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The Whelen Cadillac leads the way for Action Express.

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IndyCar guy Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani

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In the GTD class it was IndyCar driver Katherine Legge taking the TOP SPOT in the # 57 Acura NSX GT3 Evo for Heinricher Racing w/Meyer Shank Racing, putting in a time of 01:30.304s for a speed of 93.683mph. Kat beat out Bryan Sellers in the # 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo for Paul Miller Racing by 0.243 seconds - a nice gap back for Legge. P3 was the Porsche 911 GT3 R for Park Place Motorsports, thanks to Zacharie Robichon.

Katherine’s co-driver is two-time GTD champion Christina Nielsen, while Bryan shares the Lambo with Ryan Hardwick and Zacharie shares the Porsche with Patrick Long. Bryan Sellers and Katherine Legge are teammates in the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, but they are fierce competitors in the WeatherTech series. Katherine has WON Detroit for the last two events.

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Two-time Detroit WINNER Katherine Legge (her car is in post # 2)

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There was a shunt during practice, as Misha Goikhberg made heavy contact with the Turn 2 wall in the # 85 Cadillac DPi-V.R. that he drives for JDC-Miller Motorsports, and shares with IndyCar driver Tristan Vautier. Unfortunately, he also collected the GTD-class # 76 Compass Racing McLaren 720S GT3 of Matt Plumb and Paul Horton, with Matt driving at the time.

The Caddy had to be flat-bedded back to the paddock but the McLaren was able to drive on its own, though it has yet to return to the track.

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Morning grief - the McLaren (left) and the yellow Cadillac, peeking out
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The IMSA gang will hold another practice, later today. Next, the IndyCars hold their first practice…

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Friday morning at Belle Isle - the IndyCars hold their first practice…

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…and the session was dominated by former WINNERS of the race, as four of the TOP FIVE have recent victories, here. Scott Dixon (Race 1, 2018) led the way. Also in the group were Will Power (Race 2, 2016, Race 1, 2014), Ryan Hunter-Reay (Race 2, 2018) and Graham Rahal, (Races 1 & 2, 2017).

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Here was the order of speed for the IndyCars P-1 session, with times for the TOP FIVE: [R] denotes rookie

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1 - Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:16.7418s for a speed of 110.240mph
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2 - Will Power, Team Penske - time of 01:17.0882s for a speed of 109.744mph

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3 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:17.1060s for a speed of 109.719mph

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4 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske - time of 01:17.1981s for a speed of 109.588mph

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5 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan - time of 01:17.2201s for a speed of 109.557mph

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6 - Colton Herta [R], Harding Steinbrenner Racing
7 - Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport
8 - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport
9 - Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing
10 - Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan

11 - Patricio O’Ward [R], Carlin
12 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske
13 - Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser Sullivan
14 - Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport
15 - Max Chilton, Carlin
16 - James Hinchcliffe, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
17 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
18 - Santino Ferrucci [R], Dale Coyne Racing
19 - Marcus Ericsson [R], Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
20 - Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing

21 - Felix Rosenqvist [R], Chip Ganassi Racing
22 - Matheus Leist, A.J. Foyt Enterprises

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Notable:

  • Honda dominates, with 7 of the TOP TEN cars. The top performing team is probably Andretti Autosport, with 3 of 4 cars in the TOP TEN, and if you add Colton Herta - an Andretti satellite car - you get to 4 of 5. Rahal Letterman Lanigan also has both their cars in the TOP TEN and Team Penske has 2 of 3 in the TOP TEN.

  • Of all the rookies in the field, only Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Santino Ferrucci has ever been here before, as he drove for Dale Coyne at Detroit for both races in 2018, but the lack of experience doesn’t seem to bother Colton Herta, who made the TOP TEN easily.

  • Patricio O’Ward bounces back from failing to get into the Indy 500 with a respectable P11 for Carlin.

  • Scott Dixon also WON here in 2012 and Indy 500 WINNER Simon Pagenaud WON at Detroit in 2013. Sebastien Bourdais WON here in 2015 and 2016, as did Tony Kanaan back in 2007.

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Left to right, Scott Dixon, Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward

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The IndyCars will hold a 2nd practice session later today. Next, the IMSA gang go out for their P-2 session…

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Friday mid-day at Belle Isle - the IMSA gang come out for their final practice…

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…before qualifying, later today, and the usual suspects were still fast. Here are the TOP THREE in each class:

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The DPi class saw the same guy at the top as in the P-1 session, as Pipo Derani repeated as TOP DAWG in the 2nd practice in the # 31 Whelen Cadillac for Action Express, with a time of 01:20.387s for a speed of 105.240mph. This time, he bested Jordan Taylor in the # 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. for Wayne Taylor Racing by a slim 0.119 seconds. P3 for the session was IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves in the # 7 Acura ARX-05 DPi for Acura Team Penske.

Derani shares the Cadillac with Felipe Nasr while Jordan shares his Caddy with Renger van der Zande and Helio’s co-driver is Jordan’s brother, Ricky Taylor.

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The Whelen Cadillac on top, again
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In the GTD class the rabbit was Canadian Porsche ace Zacharie Robichon in the Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with a time of 01:30.011s for a speed of 93.988mph. Zacharie was able to beat IndyCar driver Katherine Legge in the # 56 Acura NSX GT3 Evo for Heinricher Racing w/Meyer Shank Racing by a TEENSY 0.013 seconds. 3rd fastest for the session was the # 96 BMW M6 GT3 for Turner Motorsports, thanks to the efforts of Bill Auberlen.

Zacharie shares the Porsche with veteran Patrick Long, while Kat shares the Acura with Christina Nielsen and Bill shares the Bimmer with Rob Foley. Robichon is the 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Champion.

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The Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R

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Zacharie Robichon

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The IMSA gang will qualify for Saturday’s race late this afternoon. Next, the IndyCars hold their 2nd practice of the day…

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Friday afternoon at Belle Isle - the IndyCars hold the P-2 practice session…

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…and a lot of the same guys are in the top group. The order of this session affects the qualifying order, tomorrow, so it was important to go for it.

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Here was the order of speed of the IndyCar P-2 session with times for the TOP FIVE: [R] denotes rookie

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1 - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:15.11367s for a speed of 112.595mph
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2 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske - time of 01:15.6641s for a speed of 111.810mph

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3 - Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:15.7824s for a speed of 111.635mph

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4 - Will Power, Team Penske - time of 01:15.8713s for a speed of 111.505mph

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5 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan - time of 01:16.0757s for a speed of 111.205mph

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6 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport
7 - Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing
8 - James Hinchcliffe, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
9 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske
10 - Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing

11 - Marcus Ericsson [R], Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
12 - Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport
13 - Colton Herta [R], Harding Steinbrenner Racing
14 - Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser Sullivan
15 - Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
16 - Felix Rosenqvist [R], Chip Ganassi Racing
17 - Patricio O’Ward [R], Carlin
18 - Santino Ferrucci [R], Dale Coyne Racing
19 - Max Chilton, Carlin
20 - Matheus Leist, A.J. Foyt Enterprises

21 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
22 - Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport

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Notable:

  • Rossi’s time is the best time of the day, so far, and well up on everyone else.

  • It’s getting better for Chevrolet, as there are now 5 Chevys and 5 Hindas in the TOP TEN

  • Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson becomes the best performing rookie, at P11. With James Hinchcliffe in P8 the Arrow SPM guys are making gains.

  • Whatever the other Andretti guys have going on, it isn’t working at all for Marco Andretti, who is usually much faster at Detroit.

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Left to right, Alexander Rossi, Marcus Ericsson and Marco Andretti

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Following this session the IndyCars will hold another session - essentially a warm-up and pit stop practice session…

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Friday afternoon - The IndyCars hold a warm-up and pit stop session…

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Following the P-2 practice the teams got the chance to make some adjustments and then come out for a final practice before qualifying tomorrow morning. Included in the session were multiple pit stops at speed - practice for the pit crews that pays off every race weekend. The P-2 session remained the fastest session of the day, except for the two top guys here, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Zach Veach, who both got their best of the day in this session.

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Here was the order of speed for the IndyCar warm-up session, with times for the TOP FIVE: [R] denotes rookie

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1 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:15.9896s for a speed of 111.331mph
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2 - Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:16.2785s for a speed of 110.909mph

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3 - Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:16.2856s for a speed of 110.899mph

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4 - Will Power, Team Penske - time of 01:16.6940s for a speed of 110.308mph

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5 - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:16.8207s for a speed of 110.127mph

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6 - Colton Herta [R], Harding Steinbrenner Racing
7 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
8 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske
9 - Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser Sullivan
10 - Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing

11 - Felix Rosenqvist [R], Chip Ganassi Racing
12 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske
13 - Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing
14 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
15 - Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
16 - Marcus Ericsson [R], Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
17 - Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport
18 - Matheus Leist, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
19 - Max Chilton, Carlin
20 - James Hinchcliffe, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

21 - Santino Ferrucci [R], Dale Coyne Racing
22 - Patricio O’Ward [R], Carlin

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Notable:

  • Honda is again the engine to beat, with 7 of the TOP TEN.

  • Andretti Autosport has 4 cars in the TOP SIX, if you include Colton Herta, but Marco Andretti is still not happy at all.

  • Colton Herta is again the top performing rookie in the field.

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Ryan Hunter-Reay

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The IndyCars now hit the barn until Saturday morning, when they will qualify for Race 1 of the weekend, to be run Saturday afternoon. That Race 1 morning qualifying session will be broadcast on NBC-SN starting at 12:00 Noon, Eastern time. Next, the IMSA gang qualify…

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Friday afternoon at Belle Isle - The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualify…

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Both classes of the WeatherTech gang qualified at the same time, just as they will rafe on Saturday. The Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle event is the brainchild of Roger Penske. He has been the main impetus for keeping it going, since its inception, so it is no surprise that Penske’s boys pulled out all the stops and qualified well. Here are the TOP THREE qualifiers of each class:

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In the DPi class IndyCar driver Juan Pablo Montoya took possession of the pole on his final lap, driving the # 6 Acura ARX-05 DPi for Acura Team Penske, with a time of 01:19.373s for a speed of 106.595mph. Juan Pablo took pole away from teammate and IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves in the # 7 Acura, who had just taken it from Pipo Derani for Action Express. JPM had 0.217 seconds up on Helio at the line. Pipo held P3 until the last second, when Jonathan Bomarito stole it away, driving the # 55 Mazda RT24-P DPi for Mazda Team Joest.

Juan Pablo’s co-driver for the race will be former champion Dane Cameron, while Helio’s co-driver is former champion Ricky Taylor. Jonathan shares the Mazda with Brit Harry Tincknell.

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The # 6 Acura DPi on pole for Roger Penske, thanks to Juan Pablo Montoya.

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The GTD class pole was much less dramatic, as Robby Foley got the hot lap about halfway through qualifying and no one could touch him for the rest of the session. He was in the # 96 BMW M6 GT3 for Turner Motorsports, with a time of 01.29704s for a speed of 94.310mph. Robby bested Zacharie Robichon in the # 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Park Place Motorsports by a scant 0.031 seconds. P3 on the grid will be the # 56 Acura NSX GT3 Evo for Heinricher Racing w/Meyer Shank Racing, thanks to former champion Christina Nielsen.

Rob Foley shares the pole-sitting Bimmer with veteran ace Bill Auberlen while Zacharie’s co-driver in the Porsche is Patrick Long and Christina’s co-driver is IndyCar driver Katherine Legge - the defending race champion of the last two years.

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The # 96 BMW M6 GT3 on pole for Turner Motorsports, thanks to Rob Foley
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The IMSA race is scheduled to be broadcast Saturday LIVE on NBC-SN starting at 12:30pm EASTERN time, following the IndyCar qualifying show. This was the last on-track activity of the day.

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UPDATE:

Post-qualifying tech inspection found that the pole-sitting # 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 had the camber settings out of compliance and the car was disqualified and will now start last in the 12-car GTD-class field.

That moves the # 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of qualifier Zacharie Robichon onto the pole - his first WeatherTech pole. Zacharie shares the car with veteran Porsche pilot Patrick Long. Next to them on the front row will be the # 57 Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Heinricher Racing w/Meyer Shank Racing, with Christina Nielsen starting and IndyCar driver Katherine Legge in at the end.
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Zacharie Robichon (left) and Patrick Long - on pole for Saturday’s race.

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Spotter’s Guide - changes in livery since the Indy 500…

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There are 8 cars that have changed their look and/or sponsors since the 2019 Indy 500, one week ago:

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Josef Newgarden was in a Shell V-Power car of white and red, mimicking the Supercars of DJR Team Penske in Australia, but has returned to the familiar black and white Hitachi car for Detroit:

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Simon Pagenaud WON the Indy 500 in the yellow Menard’s car but switched to the balck and white DXC Technology car for Detroit:

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Takuma Sato was in the Mi-Jack car for the 500, but the colors were red, yellow and white. For Detroit the car returns to blue and white:

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Will Power was in the 5G for Verizon car for the Indy 500 - all black with red trim - but he returns to the familiar silver Verizon car for Belle Isle:

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Graham Rahal was in a United Rentals-sponsored car of blue and white for Indianapolis but switches to the 5th 3rd Bank car, also of blue and white for Detroit:

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Marco Andretti was in the unmistakable orange-red US Concrete car for the 500 but makes his first race in the grey, white and pink AutoNation car for Belle Isle, as he did last year:

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Ed Jones did the 500 in the red and white WeatherTech-sponsored car but returns to the familiar black and silver Autogeek colors, with Chevrolet Accessories as the sponsor on the car for Detroit:

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Pato O’Ward didn’t make the Indy 500 but will be at Detroit in a deep blue car with sponsorship from Gallagher:

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Saturday morning at Belle Isle - The WeatherTech gang come out for a final warm-up…

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…before they go racing, this afternoon. Please NOTE there was an update to post # 8, and the pole for the GTD class was changed, after tech inspection.

Now, on to the warm-up:

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The HOT SHOE in the DPi class this morning was Harry Tincknell in the # 55 Mazda RT24-P DPi for Mazda Team Joest, with a time of 01:20.957 seconds. Harry bested IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves in the # 7 Acura ARX-05 DPi for Acura Team Penske by a very healthy 0.633 seconds, so the Mazda was hot, this morning. 3rd quickest in the warm-up was Dane Cameron in the other team Acura, the # 7.

Harry’s co-driver in the Mazda is Jonathan Bomarito, while Helio shares the Acura with Ricky Taylor and Dane shares his Acura with IndyCar driver Juan Pablo Montoya.

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The # 55 Mazda RT24-P for Mazda Team Joest
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The rabbit in the GTD class this morning was Mario Farnbacher driving the # 86 Acura NSX GT3 Evo for Meyer Shank Racing, with a time of 01.30.375 seconds. Mario was quicker than Bryan Sellers in the # 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo for Paul Miller Racing by only o.156 seconds. 3rd quickest was Toni Vilander in the # 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Scuderia Corsa.

Mario’s co-driver in the Acura is Trent Hindman while Bryan shares the Lambo with Ryan Hardwick and Toni shares the Ferrari with Cooper MacNeil. Because of the re-alignment of the grid in the GTD class the # 86 Acura will now be starting P3, right behind the new pole-sitter, Zacharie Robichon in the # 73 Porsche for Park Place Motorsports.

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The # 86 Acura NSX GT3 Evo for Meyer Shank Racing - Now P3 on the grid.
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The race is scheduled for live broadcast on NBC-SN at 12:30 EASTERN time, just following the broadcast of this morning’s IndyCar qualifying. Next, the IndyCars qualify for Race 1 of the weekend…

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It’s time for the IndyCars to qualify!..

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…and that means it’s time for the obligatory IndyCar qualifying explanation page. Normally, we would next try to explain knock-out qualifying, but IndyCar has a unique way to qualify at Detroit, since there will need to be two qualifying sessions - one today for Race 1 and one tomorrow for Race 2:

It’s fairly simple. This weekend’s 22-car field is divided into two groups of 11 cars each. The first group of 11 cars goes out for 12 minutes and tries to go as fast as they can. They then line up in order of speed. Then, the 2nd group of 11 cars comes out and does the same thing.

The car that is the fastest of BOTH groups is on pole and everyone else in his group will then be an odd-numbered car on the grid. The guy who is the fastest of the other group is P2 and everyone else in his group is an even numbered car on the grid. Simple?

The pole winner not only gets to start on pole but wins the NTT P1 Award and the valuable series point that goes with it. But in Detroit, the guy who was the tops of the other group ALSO gets a series point.

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In 2018 Race 1 pole was taken by Marco Andretti for Andretti Autosport with a time of 01:14.8514 seconds for a speed of 113.024 miles per hour.

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Marco on pole for Race 1

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Race 2 pole was taken by Alexander Rossi for Andretti Autosport, but the track was wet from rain and the time was much slower, at 01:33.3143 seconds for a speed of 90.661 miles per hour.

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Alexander on pole for Race 2

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The IndyCars are qualified for Race 1!..

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Here is the way the IndyCars will grid for Race 1 of the weekend, with times for the TOP SIX: [R] denotes rookie

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Row 1

Pole - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:14.1989s for a speed of 114.018mph

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P2 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske - time of 01:14.8272s for a speed of 113.060mph

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Row 2

P3 - Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:14.3995s for a speed of 113.710mph

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P4 - Felix Rosenqvist [R], Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:14.9984s for a speed of 112.802mph

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Row 3

P5 - Colton Herta [R], Harding Steinbrenner Racing - time of 01:14.8811s for a speed of 112.979mph

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P6 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:15.1423s for a speed of 112.586mph

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Row 4

P7 - Patricio O’Ward [R], Carlin
P8 - Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport

Row 5

P9 - Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
P10 - James Hinchcliffe, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Row 6

P11 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
P12 - Will Power, Team Penske

Row 7

P13 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske
P14 - Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing

Row 8

P15 - Marcus Ericsson [R], Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
P16 - Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser Sullivan

Row 9

P17 - Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing
P18 - Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport

Row 10

P19 - Max Chilton, Carlin
P20 - Matheus Leist, A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Row 11

P21 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
P22 - Santino Ferrucci [R], Dale Coyne Racing

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Notable:

  • Rossi didn’t just take pole…He destroyed it with a monster lap that bested Newgarden’s time by a whopping 0.6983 seconds. By being fastest in practice, Rossi was abel to choose his qualifying group and he chose Group2 - with the track rubbered in better than Group 1.

  • With his P2 Newgarden earned a series point for topping his group and that ties him with Indy 500 WINNER Simon Pagenaud for the series point lead.

  • Despite his speed Rossi was not able to set a new record, and Takuma Sato’s 2017 pole time remains the tops for Detroit, at 01:13.6732 seconds.

Takuma Sato - pole record

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The race is scheduled for broadcast on NBC, starting at 3:00pm EASTERN time, and it is looking quite likely to be a rain race. Next, the IMSA gang race…

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Saturday at Belle Isle - the IMSA race!..

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…was a very exciting race, with the rain threatening to change the ending, but only a few drops fell on the race and when it was over the WINNERS of both classes at the last event at Mid-Ohio turned out to be the WINNERS on Belle Isle, too, as Dane Cameron in the # 6 Acura ARX05 for Acura Team Penske held on to beat a determined Felipe Nasr in the # 31 Whelen Cadillac for Action Express for the DPi class and overall WIN.

Starting the race from pole was Dane’s teammate, IndyCar driver Juan Pablo Montoya, but the car lost the lead to the # 77 Mazda for Mazda Team Joest for 6 laps, regaining it on lap 26. Always close by was Nasr’s co-driver, IndyCar alum Pipo Derani, but following the last pit stop Cameron and Nasr battled to the end and the Acura WON by less than a second. 3rd on the podium was the # 7 Acura of IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves at the start and Ricky Taylor at the end.

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Montoya (left) and Cameron - 2 for 2
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In the GTD class the WINNERS were IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth as the closer and starter Richard Hiestand in the # 14 Lexus RCF GT3 for AIM Vasser Sullivan - just like at Mid-Ohio, too. Jack took the lead from Patrick Long in the # 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Park Place Motorsports, following pole-sitter Zacharie Robichon’s 26-lap lead in the Porsche. P3 at the end was IndyCar driver and broadcaster Townsend Bell and starter Frankie Montecalvo in the # 12 Lexus for AIM Vasser Sullivan.

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Jack Hawksworth (left) and Richard Heistand - two in a row
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The race saw 5 full-course cautions and restarts that made for lots of drama and very close racing in both classes.
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The next outing for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen - the third of four Michelin Endurance Cup races of the year. All four classes will be on track and they will get full support from the Michelin Pilot Challenge series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA series and the Lamboghini Super Trofeo series - June 27-30. Next, the IndyCars hold Race 1 of the weekend. The grid for this race is in post # 12…

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Saturday at Belle Isle - The IndyCars hold Race 1 of their weekend…

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Today’s first of two races was WON by Josef Newgarden for Team Penske who fell lucky on his pit stop but held the lead for the last 25 laps of the race, despite intense pressure from P2 finisher Alexander Rossi for Andretti Autosport. A well-earned P3 was Takuma Sato for Rahal Letterman Lanigan - his 3rd podium of the year and 2nd in a row.

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Josef Newgarden takes the WIN and regained the points lead.
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Just before the race was scheduled to start a thunderstorm with lightning drove through the area, necessitating a delay that eventually had the race shortened from 70 laps to 75 minutes, instead. It was called a rain race by Race Control, which meant everyone had to start on rain tires, despite the fact that the rain had ended.

That meant that the important moment was when to switch from rain tires to slicks and Newgarden was among the earliest to switch. Just as he did a full-course caution came out and that effectively handed the lead to him, over previous leader Rossi. For the remainder of the race Rossi hounded Newgarden but could not find a way past him, without going onto the still-wet areas of the track and that effectively neutered all of Rossi’s attempts to regain the lead.

There was a lot of passing behind the two leaders - mostly during the restarts from the 4 race cautions the slippery track produced. Sato was one who took advantage of that and moved up from his P9 start through determined and dangerous passing. At the end Newgarden and Rossi were turning near-qualifying laps and left the rest of the field well behind.
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Notable:

  • The race ended up being only 48 laps long but was tense throughout, because of the treacherous and changing conditions.

  • Simon Pagenaud, who was tied with Newgarden for the points lead before the start, ended the race in P6. Newgarden now leads the series by 25 points with Pagenaud in 2nd and Rossi in 3rd.

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2nd, 3rd and 4th in the points - left to right, Pagenaud, Rossi and Sato

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The tradition is for a race WINNER to take a bath in the James Scott Memorial fountain on Belle Isle, and Newgarden did not disappoint:

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The IndyCars will hold a complete new qualifying session on Sunday morning for Race 2, to be held on Sunday afternoon. That qualifying can be seen live on NBC-SN, at 10:30am EASTERN time. This was the last on-track activity of the day.

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Sunday morning at Belle Isle - the IndyCars are qualified for Race 2…

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The procedure was as yesterday and as described in post # 12. There was some rain overnight, so the track was very green for Group 1, but the weather for the day will be nice and dry, making for maximum speeds and great passing opportunities.

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Here is the way the IndyCars will grid for Race 2, with times for the TOP SIX: [R] denotes rookie

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Row 1

Pole - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske - time of 01:14.8607s for a speed of 113.010mph

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P2 - Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:15.1825s for a speed of 112.526mph

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Row 2

P3 - Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport - time of 01:15.2625s for a speed of 112.407mph

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P4 - Colton Herta [R], Harding Steinbrenner Racing - time of 01:15.6478s for a speed of 111.834mph

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Row 3

P5 - James Hinchcliffe, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports - time of 01:15.4393s for a speed of 112.143mph

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P6 - Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing - time of 01:15.8002s for a speed of 111.609mph

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Row 4

P7 - Felix Rosenqvist [R], Chip Ganassi Racing
P8 - Patricio O’Ward [R], Carlin

Row 5

P9 - Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser Sullivan
P10 - Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing

Row 6

P11 - Will Power, Team Penske
P12 - Marcus Ericsson [R], Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Row 7

P13 - Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing
P14 - Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske

Row 8

P15 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport
P16 - Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Row 9

P17 - Santino Ferrucci [R], Dale Coyne Racing
P18 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Row 10

P19 - Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport
P20 - Max Chilton, Carlin

Row 11

P21 - Matheus Leist, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
P22 - Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan

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Notable:

  • Group 1 was completed and Group 2 was about to be sent out, when water from yesterday’s downpour, trapped in tire barriers, leaked onto the tracks and red-flagged Group 2 until it could be cleaned up. This may happen again, during the race.

  • As expected, Group 2 was the faster group, due to the track getting rubbered in, yet no one could beat Rossi’s Group 1 time except for Newgarden and that was enough to secure pole. Josef was the only guy to break into the 01:14s on time and 113s on speed. This is his first ever pole at Detroit.

  • Will Power had a good lap going but brushed the wall. No damage to the car that was visible but it put him off pace with no time left to make up for it.

  • Former WINNER Graham Rahal has been plagued with mechanicals and today he lost his transmission right during his attempt on the reds. The team will have to move fast to replace it before the race and he will be dead last.

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Graham Rahal (left) and Will Power - unhappy boys

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The race is scheduled for broadcast on NBC starting at 3:00pm EASTERN time.

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Sunday at Belle Isle - And that’s why IndyCar is the greatest racing show in town…

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The series put on another hugely entertaining spectacle this afternoon on the dry and bumpy circuit on Belle Isle. Fast and frenetic, when the dust settled it was Scott Dixon for Chip Ganassi who was dipping in the James Scott Memorial Fountain to celebrate his first WIN of 2019, in Race 2 of the weekend, after crashing out of Race 1. Also celebrating loudly was rookie Marcus Ericsson for Arrow Schmidt Peterson, as the former Formula One driver put his # 7 Honda in P2 for his first professional podium since 2013. P3 was a bit stunned but happy Will Power for Team Penske - never expecting to be able to make it on the podium, given his fortunes all day and all weekend.

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Scott for the first WIN of 2019
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It was clear from the start that no one could be on the red alternate tires for long, because they were good for only 5 to 7 laps, so it was fortunate that a big shunt happened on the opening lap in Turn 3, as that brought out a caution that allowed anyone who wanted to to get off the reds and on the primary blacks for the rest of the race. Many in the leader group took that path but staying on reds was Dixon, who inherited the lead and that set the timing for his later stops that fell perfectly to keep it for the most laps.

There were no less than 5 cautions and some of them were spectacular. One even changed the lead of the race, as James Hinchcliffe for Arrow SPM had a Turn 3 shunt with about-to-be-leader Josef Newgarden for Team Penske and pursuer Alexander Rossi for Andretti Autosport. Newgarden had to retire for 22 laps of repair, Hinchcliffe would later fall out and only Rossi would battle on well to a P5 end.

Rookie Santino Ferrucci, also on the different tire strategy, led with authority for 20 laps and was poised for a great finish but he caught one of the yellows at the wrong time, while leading, and was relegated to the rear. He would still recover to a P10.

This one will need a highlight reel of some length. The crowd certainly got their money’s worth.

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Notable:

  • Dixon had been awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his services to motorsports, by Queen Eliabeth II, earlier in the day.

  • Despite only earning P19 points for his finish, Josef Newgarden remains the points leader, but by a lot less.

  • 3rd in the points Simon Pagenaud was caught in the first lap shunt, but the team also got him back on the track and he finished in P17, some 12 laps down.

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Here is your happy podium - That’s Marcus Ericsson in P2 on the left, Scott Dixon in P1 in the middle and Will Power in P3 on the right:

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Podium

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With these results, here are the TOP FIVE in points leaving Detroit…

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1 - Josef Newgarden 316
2 - Alexander Rossi 301
3 - Simon Pagenaud 291
4 - Scott Dixon 264
5 - Takuma Sato 255

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No rest for the teams, the IndyCars head to the big oval at Texas Motor Speedway, next weekend, for the DXC Technology 600 - a night race on Saturday, June 8th.

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IndyCar has released highlight reels from both races…

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First, Saturday’s wet Race 1:

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And here are today’s Race 2 highlights:

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What a weekend!

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