Preview: Detroit’s doubleheader a crucial weekend for IndyCar championship


DETROIT – Fatigue is starting to set in, but the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and teams can’t yet lift their feet off the accelerator.

This is the eighth of 10 consecutive weekends on-track for the championship, although the first where most of the Indianapolis-based teams are traveling since the trip to Birmingham, Ala. at the end of April.


Yet this weekend’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans on Belle Isle Park arguably has as big a role on the championship as did last week’s Indianapolis 500, in the second-to-last street course race weekend of the year.

With this being the lone doubleheader weekend of 2015, it by default offers double points. The difference of course is that the points are the combination of two single-race points, rather than one race having twice the amount of points.

There were several movers and shakers in the points after last week – notably Charlie Kimball moving up six spots from 14th to eighth – and there figure to be more to come after this week in Detroit.

How important is it to roll out of the box well?

With only one 75-minute practice session, from 10:35 to 11:50 a.m. ET, teams will have to nail the setup out of the box to ensure they have a good working car in dry conditions.

Alas, it wouldn’t be IndyCar without some sort of curveball, and that comes with Saturday’s 60-70 percent chances of rain.

If you remember the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park, you’ll recall the Chip Ganassi Racing pair of Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan – the latter of whom is adorned in a Taylor Swift concert tour livery this weekend – were pacesetters in the dry in practice.

However, once the rain came for qualifying, qualifying was washed out and cancelled. And the race turned into a rain-affected yet caution-drenched lottery (the cautions were coming down more than the rain was), won by James Hinchcliffe in what at least was a popular victory.

The injured but now thankfully released Hinchcliffe won’t have a chance to add a second win in what is likely going to be mixed conditions on Saturday but someone will seize the day, be it on staying clean or moving to the front on strategy, and that will kick off the weekend’s winners.

Sunday is expected to be cleaner, drier, and cooler, with ambient temperatures in the mid-to-high ’60s. Consider Thursday was in the high 80s when drivers and teams did a track walk to explore the newly resurfaced Belle Isle Park facility, which has a fair amount of new concrete, and that’s a big difference for what they’ll be facing most of the weekend.

In four past doubleheader races at Detroit there have been four different winners, in the form of surprise winners Mike Conway and Simon Pagenaud in 2013, and dominant forces from Team Penske in Will Power and Helio Castroneves last year.

As ever the Penske quartet will be strong, and we keep writing, and waiting for Pagenaud to get his first win with the team. Detroit is another realistic spot for it to happen.

But first, the remaining three drivers in the Captain’s stable must get past Juan Pablo Montoya. The lone chance I see for the rest of the field is fatigue; while the Indianapolis 500 champion rides the crest of momentum into Detroit, he’s had a busy week of media and now has to maintain his form into a track where he’ll admit he’s not the best of qualifiers.

Montoya is a damn good racer, not only one of the best in the series but one of the best all-time; that said, his qualifying is his weak spot.

And if there’s one thing the Detroit double has done to Indy 500 winners, it’s killed their momentum.

Kanaan came off his 2013 Indianapolis 500 win with finishes of 13th and 12th in Detroit; Ryan Hunter-Reay suffered through a diabolical Detroit last year with 16th and 19th, both failures to finish.

So if Montoya, who leads the points by 25 over Power coming into the weekend, banks one or two top-10s, he’ll have already exceeded his predecessors, and solidified his championship chances.

The Ganassi quartet is also strong – Scott Dixon is a past Detroit winner and either or both of Kanaan or Charlie Kimball looks poised to build upon podiums they achieved here last year. It’s Sage Karam who needs a big, trouble-free weekend and not the Ganassi equivalent of AJ Allmendinger’s 2013 “weekend on Hell Isle” in his last IndyCar street car race for Penske.

If there’s any Honda capable of upstaging the Bowtie brigade on home soil it’s undoubtedly Graham Rahal and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team, with Rahal saying earlier this week he feels “really good” heading into the weekend. And with good reason.

Considering the team’s comparative lack of cohesion and chemistry each of the last two years, this is still a team that has had podiums both years here – James Jakes was second in race two of 2013, and Rahal second in race one last year. Now that the team’s chemistry is actually firing on all cylinders, I’d fully expect Rahal on the podium at least once, and it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see him finally end his seven-year winless drought.

That hits nine of the 23… others to watch include Conor Daly in his Schmidt Peterson “mulligan” race, and first as Hinchcliffe’s injury replacement, Barber winner Josef Newgarden, as he looks to atone from historical struggles in doubleheaders, and KVSH Racing driver Sebastien Bourdais, who has consistently been a thorn in the Ganassi/Penske sides. Of the other Hondas, Takuma Sato was a pole winner here last year and if the Foyt team’s setup comes in, he is a possible spoiler.

We’ll see how it shakes out in the pair of races, both of which air at 3:30 p.m. ET on both of Saturday and Sunday.

IndyCar results, points after 107th Indy 500


INDIANAPOLIS — With his first victory in the Indy 500, Josef Newgarden became the first repeat winner through six race results of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season and made a move in the points.

Newgarden, who celebrated with fans in the grandstands, moved from sixth to fourth in the championship standings with his 27th career victory and second this season (he also won at Texas Motor Speedway).

The Team Penske star won his 12th attempt at the Brickyard oval, tying the record for most starts before an Indy 500 victory with Tony Kanaan (2013) and Sam Hanks (1957). Newgarden, whose previous best Indy 500 finish was third with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2016, became the first Tennessee native to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and the first American since Alexander Rossi in 2016.

He also delivered the record 19th Indy 500 triumph to Roger Penske, whose team ended a four-year drought on the 2.5-mile oval and won for the first time since he became the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar in 2020.

Newgarden, 32, led five laps, the third-lowest total for an Indy 500 winner behind Joe Dawson (two in 1912) and Dan Wheldon (one in 2011).

The race featured 52 lead changes, the third most behind 68 in 2013 and 54 in ’16, among 14 drivers (tied with ’13 for the second highest behind 15 leaders in ’17 and ’18). Newgarden’s 0.0974-second victory over Marcus Ericsson was the fourth-closest in Indy 500 history behind 1992 (0.043 of a second for Al Unser Jr. over Scott Goodyear), 2014 (0.0600 of a second for Ryan Hunter-Reay over Helio Castroneves) and 2006 (0.0635 of a second Sam Hornish Jr. over Marco Andretti.).

It also marked only the third last-lap pass in Indy 500 history — all within the past 17 years (Hornish over Andretti in 2006; Wheldon over J.R. Hildebrand in 2011).

Ericsson’s runner-up finish was the ninth time the defending Indy 500 finished second the next year (most recently four-time winner Helio Castroneves in 2003).

Here are the IndyCar results and points standings after the 107th Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:


Click here for the official box score from the 200-lap race on a 2.5-mile oval in Indianapolis.

Lap leader summary

Full lap chart

Best section times

Full section data

Event summary

Pit stop summary

Here is the finishing order in the Indy 500 with starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (17) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 200, Running
2. (10) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 200, Running
3. (4) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 200, Running
4. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 200, Running
5. (7) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 200, Running
6. (6) Scott Dixon, Honda, 200, Running
7. (8) Takuma Sato, Honda, 200, Running
8. (16) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 200, Running
9. (21) Colton Herta, Honda, 200, Running
10. (2) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 200, Running
11. (18) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Chevrolet, 200, Running
12. (27) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 200, Running
13. (25) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 200, Running
14. (14) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 200, Running
15. (20) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 200, Running
16. (9) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 200, Running
17. (24) Marco Andretti, Honda, 200, Running
18. (32) Jack Harvey, Honda, 199, Running
19. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 198, Running
20. (13) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 197, Contact
21. (11) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 196, Contact
22. (33) Graham Rahal, Chevrolet, 195, Running
23. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 195, Running
24. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 192, Contact
25. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 192, Contact
26. (26) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 192, Contact
27. (3) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 183, Contact
28. (15) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 183, Contact
29. (23) David Malukas, Honda, 160, Contact
30. (19) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 149, Contact
31. (31) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 90, Contact
32. (28) RC Enerson, Chevrolet, 75, Mechanical
33. (29) Katherine Legge, Honda, 41, Contact

Winner’s average speed: 168.193 mph; Time of Race: 2:58:21.9611; Margin of victory: 0.0974 of a second; Cautions: 5 for 27 laps; Lead changes: 52 among 14 drivers. Lap leaders: Palou 1-2; VeeKay 3; Palou 4-9; VeeKay 10-14; Palou 15-22; VeeKay 23-27; Palou 28-29; VeeKay 30-31; Rosenqvist 32; Rossi 33-34; Palou 35-39; VeeKay 40-47; Palou 48-60; VeeKay 61-63; Rosenqvist 64-65; O’Ward 66; Power 67; Herta 68; Rosenqvist 69; O’Ward 70-78; Rosenqvist 79-81; O’Ward 82-89; Rosenqvist 90-94; Ilott 95-99; Rosenqvist 100-101; O’Ward 102; Rosenqvist 103-107; O’Ward 108-109; Rosenqvist 110-113; O’Ward 114-115; Rosenqvist 116-119; O’Ward 120-122; Rosenqvist 123-124; O’Ward 125-128; Rosenqvist 129-131; Ferrucci 132; Ericsson 133-134; Castroneves 135; Rosenqvist 136; Ericsson 137-156; Newgarden 157; Ericsson 158; Ferrucci 159-168; Ericsson 169-170; Rossi 171-172; Sato 173-174; O’Ward 175-179; Hunter-Reay 180-187;
O’Ward 188-191; Ericsson 192; Newgarden 193-195; Ericsson 196-199; Newgarden 200.


Click here for the points tally in the race.

Here are the points standings after the GMR Grand Prix:



Engine manufacturers

Pit stop performance

Top 10 in points: Palou 219, Ericsson 199, O’Ward 185, Newgarden 182, Dixon 162, McLaughlin 149, Rossi 145, Grosjean 139, Power 131, Herta 130.

Rest of the standings: Lundgaard 122, Kirkwood 113, Rosenqvist 113, Ilott 111, Ferrucci 96, VeeKay 96, Rahal 94, Malukas 84, Armstrong 77, Daly 73, Castroneves 69, Harvey 65, DeFrancesco 63, Canapino 61, Pagenaud 55, Pedersen 51, Robb 47, Sato 37, Carpenter 27, Hunter-Reay 20, Kanaan 18, Andretti 13, Enerson 5, Legge 5.

Next race: The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, which has moved from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown, will take place June 4 with coverage starting on Peacock at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.