What to watch for: IndyCar at Detroit’s Belle Isle

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Stress balls won’t help here

Even before last year’s surface problems, Belle Isle had already gained a reputation as one of the tougher street courses there is. You’ve got park roads more narrow than the roads on a typical city course and multiple surface changes between asphalt and concrete. Now take all of that and multiply it by two for this weekend’s doubleheader slate, which has ensured that nobody in the paddock is getting comfortable.

This is going to be a grueling couple of days on multiple fronts. A first Dual that ends badly could put a team in a hole they can’t get out of.

Eye on the sky

With the amount of new asphalt and concrete that has been installed for this year’s race, drivers have had to deal with a very slick surface this weekend. But things could get even tougher for them today in Dual 1 (Green Flag: 3:50 p.m. ET) with forecasts calling for thunderstorms in the Detroit region. If rain indeed comes to Belle Isle, an increased rate of attrition will likely play a role in how today plays out.

Hot corner: Turn 3

With a new half-mile straightaway connecting Turns 2 and 3 on this new 2.3-mile Belle Isle configuration, this portion of the course is likely to have the most action through the weekend. As our man on the ground Tony DiZinno noted earlier in the weekend on Twitter, a good exit out of the left-hand Turn 2 will be critical in setting up passing opportunities down the straight and heading into the 90-degree right-hander at Turn 3.

Home cookin’ for Chevrolet?

With four drivers in the Top 5 last weekend at the Indianapolis 500 (including race winner Tony Kanaan), Chevrolet gained a major measure of revenge following Honda’s 1-2 with Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon there in 2012. They’ll look for more payback this weekend in their ‘home’ race on Belle Isle, where the Honda camp swept the podium in last year’s shortened race with Dixon, Franchitti and Simon Pagenaud doing the honors.

IZOD IndyCar Series – Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit
Starting Lineup – Race 1

Row 1
5-EJ Viso
18-Mike Conway

Row 2
16-James Jakes
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay

Row 3
98-Alex Tagliani
55-Tristan Vautier

Row 4
14-Takuma Sato
77-Simon Pagenaud

Row 5
12-Will Power
6-Sebastian Saavedra

Row 6
10-Dario Franchitti (won pole; penalized for unapproved engine change)
3-Helio Castroneves

Row 7
2-AJ Allmendinger
7-Sebastien Bourdais

Row 8
9-Scott Dixon
19-Justin Wilson

Row 9
78-Simona de Silvestro
25-Marco Andretti

Row 10
11-Tony Kanaan
27-James Hinchcliffe

Row 11
4-Ryan Briscoe
20-Ed Carpenter

Row 12
15-Graham Rahal (penalized for unapproved engine change)
67-Josef Newgarden (penalized for unapproved engine change)

Row 13
83-Charlie Kimball (penalized for unapproved engine change)

Starting on Alternate Tires: Jakes, Tagliani, Vautier, Saavedra, Franchitti, De Silvestro, Briscoe

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

Hawkins Supercross
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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.