Munoz wins rain-shortened first race in Detroit

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DETROIT – In the first race of a doubleheader where rain is stopping the race short of its scheduled distance, bet on Colombians named Carlos who have no career wins.

Last year, it was Carlos Huertas at Houston race one. Today, it was Carlos Munoz at Detroit race one.

Neither was predicted; both are now race winners.

The crucial portion of the race came once Munoz’s Andretti Autosport teammate, Marco Andretti, and Munoz both ran longer on dry slick tires – gapping the field by roughly eight to 10 seconds per lap on the low end – which allowed them both enough time to make their stops without losing the lead.

Meanwhile most of the rest of the field pitted to switch to rain tires, and that proved detrimental from an overall time standpoint.

Munoz, who started 20th in the 23-car field, took the lead on Lap 40 after Andretti pitted for rain tires when leading.

Munoz stopped himself two laps later but retained the lead.

On Lap 46, yellow was called for lightning, followed shortly thereafter by a red flag. Drivers were ordered out of their cars and the cars covered.

The race was called just before 5:30 p.m. ET, with Munoz leading Andretti and Simon Pagenaud; it’s the first podium of the year for all three drivers.

Will Power and Scott Dixon completed the top five. Points leader Juan Pablo Montoya finished 10th, and Power should close 13 points on the day.

The race, coincidentally, nearly mirrors the end result of the time-shortened race at NOLA Motorsports Park to a T.

At NOLA, 47 laps were completed and two Hondas were on the podium from the same team. It marked the first podium of the year for race winner James Hinchcliffe, his teammate James Jakes and runner-up Helio Castroneves.

Today, there were 47 laps completed, with a Honda team having two of the top three finishers and a Team Penske driver completing the podium.

RACE RESULTS

DETROIT – Results Saturday of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans Race #1 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.35-mile Raceway at Belle Isle Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (20) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 47, Running
2. (9) Marco Andretti, Honda, 47, Running
3. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 47, Running
4. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 47, Running
5. (7) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 47, Running
6. (2) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 47, Running
7. (14) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 47, Running
8. (18) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 47, Running
9. (19) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 47, Contact
10. (3) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 46, Running
11. (4) Takuma Sato, Honda, 46, Running
12. (10) James Jakes, Honda, 46, Running
13. (16) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 46, Running
14. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 46, Running
15. (8) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 46, Running
16. (12) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 46, Running
17. (11) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 46, Running
18. (23) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 46, Running
19. (21) Conor Daly, Honda, 46, Running
20. (15) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 33, Running
21. (22) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Honda, 25, Mechanical
22. (17) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 13, Contact
23. (13) Graham Rahal, Honda, 5, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 75.510 mph
Time of Race: 1:27:45.7906
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 6 for 18 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Power 1-2
Sato 3-14
Andretti 15 -33
Power 34 – 35
Andretti 36 – 39
Munoz 40 – 47

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Montoya 292, Power 281, Dixon 241, Castroneves 234, Rahal 211, Newgarden 197, Andretti 194, Pagenaud 177, Bourdais 177, Munoz 173.

Even with half the purse and no fans, Indy 500 still has major team value

Indy 500 purse fans
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Even with reportedly half the purse and no fans in attendance, NTT IndyCar Series driver-owner Ed Carpenter believes it remains “absolutely critical” to hold the 104th Indy 500.

“Far and away it’s what makes and breaks our season as teams,” the Ed Carpenter Racing namesake told reporters during a Zoom media availability last week. “It’s the most important event to our partners. It 100 percent sucks not having fans there and not even being able to have the experience with our partners in full being there. But it’s necessary.

“We’ve got to look at all the hard decisions now of what we have to do to be in a position to have fans in 2021. It’s critical for the health of the teams that we have this race to make sure we have teams back here next year. That sounds a little dramatic, but that’s the reality.

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“We live in not only a very volatile world right now, but our industry and motorsport in general, it’s not an easy business to operate. When you lose your marquee event, it’s a lot different than looking at losing Portland on the schedule or Barber. They’re in totally different atmospheres as far as the importance to us and our partners.”

Robin Miller reported on RACER.com that IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske told team owners last week the purse for the postponed Indianapolis 500 was slashed from $15 to $7.5 million. Miller reported holding the Aug. 23 race (1 p.m. ET, NBC) would be a $20 million hit to the bottom line.

Carpenter still is supportive of Penske’s “outstanding job” of leading the series through the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Even with a 50 percent purse reduction, the Indy 500 remains the linchpin of teams’ economic viability.

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The schedule has taken many hits with the cancellation of races at Barber Motorsports Park, Circuit of the Americas, Detroit, Portland International Raceway, Laguna Seca and Toronto, and another race weekend doubleheader at Mid-Ohio has been indefinitely postponed.

That leaves the 2020 slate at 12 confirmed races of an original 17, which has raised questions about how many races teams need to fulfill sponsor obligations.

“It’s a moving target,” said Carpenter, who announced the U.S. Space Force as a new sponsor for the Indy 500. “I think we’ve been pretty blessed as a team with the level of commitment of our partners and their understanding of COVID-19 and the impact on our schedule, our contracts.

“All of it is out of our control, out of the series’ control, the promoter’s control. At the end of the day is there a firm number (of races) I can give? No. But definitely every one that we lose, it does make it harder to continue having those conversations.

I think everyone’s as confident as you can be right now with what we have in front of us with what’s remaining on the schedule. Things are so fluid, it changes day-to-day, let alone week-to-week. We just have to take it as it comes. Right now the focus is on the 500 and maximizing this month to the best we possibly can given the situation.”

That’ll be hard this month for Carpenter, who grew up in Indianapolis and is the stepson of Tony George, whose family owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway for decades.

Having spent a lifetime around the Brickyard, Carpenter will feel the ache of missing fans as he races in his 17th Indy 500.

Ed Carpenter, shown racing his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway last month, led a race-high 65 laps and finished second in the 2018 Indy 500 (Chris Jones/IndyCar).

“Over that time you develop relationships that are centered around standing outside of your garage in Gasoline Alley,” he said. “It stinks, it sucks that we don’t get to share that passion we all have that is the Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately it’s the reality we’re in right now.

I think this is the best that we can do unfortunately. Without a doubt it’s going to be a different environment. You’re going to be missing the sounds and a lot of the sights and colors. For sure I’ve thought about it. It’s going to be a different morning, different lead-in to the race. After 16 of them, you have a cadence and anticipation for the buildup. That’s all going to be different this year.

“I’m confident it’s not going to affect the type of show we put on or the excitement and how aggressive we are fighting for an Indy 500 win. It’s still going to mean the same thing. We’re just not going to have our fans to celebrate with after the fact. But it’s going to be historic.”