IndyCar Dual in Detroit Preview

Fresh from the Indy 500, the IndyCar paddock heads to Detroit for the only doubleheader of the season, known as the ‘Dual in Detroit’. Some drivers are coming off the high of the 500 while others are looking to make amends after a poor performance at the Brickyard. Detroit always promises action with its tight, bumpy nature punishing mistakes very heavily.

Simon Pagenaud will be coming into Detroit on the highest of highs after winning his first Indy 500 from pole to top off an amazing Month of May. The Frenchman has won both of the last two races, however, since the Detroit doubleheader came into the series in 2012, Indy 500 champion has never won either of the races. Pagenaud will be looking to break that curse, though it’s not really something you’d put money on given the amount of media work he’s had to do in the last week and the fact that he hasn’t won around Detroit since 2013, but you never know…

Simon Pagenaud with his dog Norman in New York City during his victory tour after winning the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

One driver very much looking to make amends for the 500 is Alexander Rossi. He may have finished second last race but, as he said in his interview after, that’s probably one of the worst places to finish at the Brickyard because of how close you are to victory. At the Indy 500, second really is the first of the losers! Despite never winning at Detroit, his best finish came last year with a third place in Race 1, Rossi always manages to be a factor in the races here, whether that be in a good way or a bad!

Last year, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay shared the honours, after Graham Rahal dominated both races the year before. For Hunter-Reay, his win here last year ended a drought that stretched back to Pocono 2015; this year, he comes into the weekend with a winless streak of only six races, having won the last race of 2018. Dixon has actually got a longer winless streak at eleven, meaning he sits in fifth in the championship, 47 points off leader Pagenaud.

Ryan Hunter-Reay takes a cool dip in the James Scott Memorial Fountain at Belle Isle Park as the winner of Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

The championship is still young with the two races at Detroit marking races seven and eight. Currently, Indy 500 winner Pagenaud leads the championship, one point ahead of teammate Josef Newgarden with Rossi 22 points off the lead in third. Takuma Sato has rather snuck into the top five, equal with Dixon, 47 points adrift. The standings become slightly more spread out after that with Santino Ferrucci as top rookie in tenth, following his stellar performance at the 500.

Detroit is a return to the street courses after the first oval of the season, but, being a doubleheader, the format is slightly different to normal. The two races are run independently of one another with each having its own two-group qualifying to decide the order. There’s no top twelve group or Fast Six, just the two groups based on practice times. All this means a driver can fail to finish Race 1 but then go onto start well in Race 2, as they don’t decide each other’s grids.

This time it’s a mere 22-car affair, after the 36 strong entry list for the 500. Max Chilton and Patricio O’Ward are back in the field after failing to qualify last time out while Ed Jones switches back to the #20 Ed Carpenter Racing entry after the boss himself ran it at the 500. Other than that, it’s all the regulars in the pack, with Jack Harvey and Ben Hanley not around again until Road America.

Practice gets underway today with the first of the qualifying sessions and Race 1 taking place on Saturday, followed by a very similar schedule on Sunday. The timings for the weekend are as follows:

May 31

Practice 1 – 10:55am (ET) / 3:55pm (BST)
Practice 2 – 2:50pm / 7:50pm

June 1

Qualifying (R1) – 10:45am / 3:45pm
Race 1 – 3:30pm / 8:30pm

June 2

Qualifying (R2) – 10:45am / 3:45pm
Race 2 – 3:30pm / 8:30pm

Entry List:

# Driver Team
2 Josef Newgarden Team Penske
4 Matheus Leist AJ Foyt Racing
5 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
7 Marcus Ericsson (R) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Felix Rosenqvist (R) Chip Ganassi Racing
12 Will Power Team Penske
14 Tony Kanaan AJ Foyt Racing
15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan
18 Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing
19 Santino Ferrucci (R) Dale Coyne Racing
20 Ed Jones Ed Carpenter Racing
21 Spencer Pigot Ed Carpenter Racing
22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske
26 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport
27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport
28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport
30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan
31 Patricio O’Ward (R) Carlin
59 Max Chilton Carlin
88 Colton Herta (R) Harding Steinbrenner
98 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport

Featured Image Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

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