A superior strategy call from both Sebastien Bourdais and Conor Daly ensured the duo claimed first and second place in the opening race around the streets of Belle Isle on Saturday.
Bourdais was never a contender in the first half of the race, but after discarding his red alternate tyres in favour of the black prime tyres on just the third lap, he saw his strategy thereafter play out perfectly, and claimed his first victory of the season in his #11 KVSH Racing entry, despite light rain threatening the course for most of the afternoon.
Daly likewise used a similar strategy call, and emerged in second place following his final stop, giving chase to Bourdais in his Dale Coyne Racing entry but was forced to settle for second for his best result of his Verizon IndyCar Series career to date.
Juan Pablo Montoya was third for Team Penske, but overall it was a difficult day for Roger Penske’s team, who at one point were 1-2-3-4 in the field, with Simon Pagenaud, Montoya and Will Power all spending time in the lead.
An early caution period caused when Max Chilton crashed saw Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves go off strategy, staying on track with their starting alternate tyres while most others behind them pitted. Ultimately this cost both drivers as they were forced into fuel conservation mode, with Pagenaud in particular fading as the race progressed, finishing down in thirteenth, while Castroneves was fifth.
Power was in contention for the victory as well until he lost a wheel following a pit stop during a caution period, caused when James Hinchcliffe crashed his Schmidt Peterson Motorsport car at turn three, with the Australian retiring from the race.
Graham Rahal finished fourth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing ahead of Castroneves, who was forced to back off considerably at the end, ending more than forty seconds off the leader when the chequered flag fell.
Andretti Autosport duo Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay finished on Castroneves’ tail in sixth and seventh, with Charlie Kimball and Tony Kanaan were eighth and ninth for Chip Ganassi Racing. Last weekend’s Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi completed the top ten for Andretti Herta Autosport.
Scott Dixon was in contention for the win despite a slow first stop to switch from the red to the black tyres following a problem getting fuel into his car, and was running inside the top three when he emerged from his final scheduled pit stop. Unfortunately the New Zealander was forced back to the pits the following lap and into retirement after appearing to be stuck in gear and crawling around the Detroit track.
Drivers will be back on track Sunday for the second qualifying session of the weekend ahead of the second Dual in Detroit race.
Belle Isle Race 1 Result
|1||11||Sebastien Bourdais||FRA||KVSH Racing||1:40:51.6838|
|2||18||Conor Daly||USA||Dale Coyne Racing||+2.0401|
|3||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||COL||Team Penske||+5.7067|
|4||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+7.4793|
|5||3||Helio Castroneves||BRZ||Team Penske||+40.0139|
|6||26||Carlos Munoz||COL||Andretti Autosport||+40.7592|
|7||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||+42.2990|
|8||83||Charlie Kimball||USA||Chip Ganassi Racing||+44.4699|
|9||10||Tony Kanaan||BRZ||Chip Ganassi Racing||+45.5832|
|10||98||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Herta Autosport||+48.2961|
|11||14||Takuma Sato||JAP||AJ Foyt Enterprises||+51.1067|
|12||19||Gabby Chaves||COL||Dale Coyne Racing||+51.3256|
|13||22||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||+52.5313|
|14||21||Josef Newgarden||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+1:06.2350|
|15||7||Mikhail Aleshin||RUS||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||+1:14.1421|
|16||27||Marco Andretti||USA||Andretti Autosport||+1 Lap|
|17||20||Spencer Pigot||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+1 Lap|
|18||5||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||+5 Laps|
|RET||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||Retired|
|RET||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||Retired|
|RET||8||Max Chilton||GBR||Chip Ganassi Racing||Retired|
|RET||41||Jack Hawksworth||GBR||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Retired|