Preview: 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Duel in Detroit

3 Mins read
Credit: Bret Kelley / Courtesy of IndyCar

After last Sunday’s fantastic Indianapolis 500, the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series is in action yet again this weekend, as the drivers go from the high-speed banked turns of IMS to the tight and bumpy streets of the Belle Isle Street Circuit. Two races will take place this weekend at the Duel in Detroit. Here is everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s action:

What happened in 2017 at the Duel in Detroit?

In last year’s Duel in Detroit, Graham Rahal was in the form of his life. In race one on the Saturday, Rahal qualified on pole position and duly dominated to take his first win of 2017. The American used a two-stop strategy to get to victory circle, with perhaps his most likely challenger, Helio Castroneves, falling out of contention on an ill-fated three-stop strategy.

Second place would go to Scott Dixon in race one, who drove brilliantly despite an injured ankle after his terrifying crash in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 the week before. James Hinchcliffe completed the podium.

For Sunday’s race two, Takuma Sato, fresh from his Indy 500 win, would claim pole position. However, Sato wouldn’t be able to hold on to take his second win in seven days. The Japanese driver would slip down to fourth place in the race, with Graham Rahal once again taking the victory.

It wasn’t easy for Rahal, however. He had been leading heading into the closing stages when series officials red flagged the race due to James Hinchcliffe and Spencer Pigot stopping out on track with simultaneous mechanical issues. Rahal would have to fend off the field on a late restart, but he managed to do so without issue; taking his second win of the weekend and his second win of the year.

Team Penske bounced back from a disappointing Saturday to take a double podium finish, with Josef Newgarden second ahead of Will Power in third.

You can read the qualifying and race reports from last year’s Duel in Detroit here: 

What should I look out for this weekend?

The driver heading into this weekend’s races with the most confidence will undoubtedly be Will Power. After a tough start to the season, Power bounced back with two victories in the two races held in May, taking the Grand Prix of Indianapolis win on the road course before doubling up with a sensational win in last weekend’s Indianapolis 500.

It will certainly be interesting to see whether Power, with his revitalized form, is able to finish both of the races this weekend strongly; especially as he now leads the championship thanks to the double-points scored in the Indy 500.

Two points behind Power in the championship standings is Andretti Autosport‘s Alexander Rossi. The Californian driver took two top ten finishes in last year’s Duel in Detroit, but his form is arguably better now than it was a year ago. Two strong results could take him back to the top of the standings after this weekend.

After dominating the event a year ago, Graham Rahal will be hoping that history repeats itself and that he manages to get at least one victory from this weekend’s doubleheader. Graham currently sits sixth in the standings, having not scored a podium finish since the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. If he wants to return to the podium this time around, he will have to hope he can finally get the better of his qualifying woes, which will make his life easier come race time.

Last but not least, keep an eye out on Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this weekend. The month of May was tough for the team, despite rookie Robert Wickens taking a top ten in his first Indy 500. Wickens will be looking to continue to be competitive heading into Detroit, with team-mate James Hinchcliffe severely hoping to bounce back from not qualifying for the Indy 500 with a strong finish on his return to the race-track this weekend.

What is the schedule for the weekend?

Friday 1 June

11:20 ET / 16:20 GMT – Practice one
15:10 ET / 20:10 GMT – Practice two

Saturday 2 June

10:55 ET / 15:55 GMT – Qualifying
15:40 ET / 20:40 GMT – Race one

Sunday 3 June

10:45 ET /  15:45 GMT – Qualifying
15:40 ET / 20:40 GMT – Race two

Where can I watch the Duel in Detroit?

Tickets are still available for this weekend’s race. Head to the Detroit Grand Prix website for more information.

In the United Kingdom, television coverage is limited to just the races only. Race day coverage will start on Saturday at 20:30 BST on BT Sport 2 and on Sunday at 20:30 BST on BT Sport 1.

In the United States, television coverage for the Indy 500 will be provided by ABC.

Further coverage of practice and qualifying will be provided for all via IndyCar’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

How can I keep up to date with all the race action?

If you cannot make it to Belle Isle for this weekend’s Duel in Detroit, you can keep up to date with all the action across the weekend right here at The Checkered Flag. We will have coverage of not just this weekend’s practice, qualifying and race sessions, but for all on-track action throughout the season.

Be sure to also follow IndyCar on Twitter – @IndyCar – for live updates throughout the event.

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Reporter from the East of England. Covering the NTT IndyCar Series for The Checkered Flag. Also an eSports racing driver on iRacing.
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