Multiple strategies jumbled the running order in the first half of today’s Race 1 of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park.
During a Lap 5 caution for Simon Pagenaud’s bent suspension, a group of six drivers – Takuma Sato, Will Power, Mikhail Aleshin, Justin Wilson, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Hunter-Reay – opted to make their first stops early.
Then following a Lap 15 crash for Mike Conway (which left both 2013 Detroit winners out of the race), Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti rose to the top two positions after choosing not to pit in either of the first two yellow periods.
The two needed another yellow to make the strategy work, but they didn’t get it; Rahal, after leading his first laps of the year, pitted at Lap 26 and Andretti pitted a lap later.
Power, one of those that pitted in the first yellow, inherited the lead but soon gave way for service at Lap 30. When the pit cycle for Power’s group ended, pole sitter Helio Castroneves returned to the front of the field.
The three-time Indy 500 winner has ran strong today, and at Lap 35 of 70, he held a lead of more than six seconds on fellow front-row starter James Hinchcliffe. Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe were in third and fourth, and American driver Josef Newgarden had moved into fifth after starting 14th.
Newgarden’s great run ended badly however at Lap 38, when he came to a stop on track in Turn 7 after an apparent hit into the tire barriers.
Another hard-luck driver today has been Jack Hawksworth, who dispatched Hinchcliffe for second on the opening lap and stayed there until his pit stop during the Conway caution.
Unfortunately for the British rookie, his left-front brake rotor somehow broke and he had to sit for repairs. He’s back on track now, but at several laps off the pace.