Pagenaud scores maiden IndyCar victory in bipolar second Detroit Dual race

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IndyCar’s inaugural doubleheader format lived up to the billing, and the second Chevrolet Indy Dual at Detroit was basically a tale of two races in and of itself.

What had been a caution-filled, wreck-filled first half of the race was ignited in the second, and ended with the third first-time winner in seven races this season – Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports’ Simon Pagenaud in the No. 77 HP Honda.

Pagenaud survived the carnage long enough to lead by lap 50, before his final pit stop on lap 55. He then re-emerged with the lead once James Jakes pitted.

Jakes had Firestone’s softer red alternates for the final dozen laps while Pagenaud was on the primary blacks.

While Jakes could gain enough time at the start of the stint, his tires faded, and he had to perform the task of holding up Mike Conway to hang onto second. In the end, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver recorded his first podium finish (and best ever finish by six places) by edging Conway, in the second Dale Coyne Racing car that Jakes had occupied the last two years.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing finished fourth and fifth with Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Marco Andretti, Charlie Kimball, Helio Castroneves, Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra completed the top 10.

In the seven races this season, there have been six winning drivers, six winning countries, and five winning teams. Additionally, 13 different drivers have scored a podium finish out of a possible 21 opportunities. Honda took five of six podium finishes for the weekend in Detroit.

Unofficially, Castroneves and Andretti are tied for the points lead (206 apiece), ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dixon and Pagenaud.