Detroit flashback: Track issues overshadow Dixon’s dominance in 2012

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Track surface problems marred the IZOD IndyCar Series’ return to the Motor City in 2012 after a four-year absence.

Just five laps into the scheduled 90-lap race, reports of track deterioration around the 2.1-mile Belle Isle Park course began to come in from drivers. But the race continued on without issues until Lap 39, when James Hinchcliffe ran over a large chunk of sealant that had been pulled up from the track and was sent airborne before slamming into the Turn 6 tire barriers.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Hinchcliffe said. “We had these big pieces of tar just sort of ripping up from Lap 5…The lap before the accident, I had this chunk hit me in the wing in Turn 9. I radioed to the guys to make sure the wing was all right because it was a big hit. Then going through [Turn] 6, I turned in and a piece of the tar, whatever, just folded over with a giant chunk of concrete. It launched the front-end of the car in the air. I was just a passenger at that point.”

That incident, along with another one that involved Takuma Sato, would eventually bring out the red flag at Lap 45 for extensive repair work to multiple parts of the circuit. After a delay of just under two hours and with darkness starting to creep in, the decision was made to end the race at 60 laps and to allow everyone to get fresh tires for the sprint to the finish (although they had to maintain the same compounds they were on at the time of the red flag).

Light rain began to fall as the green flag came out on Lap 47, with pole sitter Scott Dixon as the leader. As the rain made the freshly-repaired circuit even tougher to navigate, Helio Castroneves spun and tagged Ed Carpenter in Turn 6, while Josef Newgarden and Ryan Briscoe did the same in Turn 7.

Dixon would have to endure two more restarts within the final ten laps but was able to pull away from teammate Dario Franchitti and win the shortened event. Dixon, Franchitti and third-place driver Simon Pagenaud made it a clean sweep of the podium for Honda in Chevy’s backyard.

Afterwards, Dixon, who led every lap on the day, was thankful for IndyCar and Belle Isle’s quick repair work to the track.

“I’d like to give a lot of credit to everyone at INDYCAR and the Detroit staff for getting the track back in shape so we could race,” he said. “The final 15 lap shoot-out was exciting for me, so I sure hope the fans liked it.”

Shortly after the race, a massive project to overhaul the Belle Isle course was announced by Detroit Grand Prix Association chairman Bud Denker, who had been spotted helping track workers himself during the repair process.

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.