Pagenaud leads at halfway in second Detroit race

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Verizon IndyCar Series drivers’ championship leader Simon Pagenaud gave himself every chance of extending his points advantage by dominating the opening half of Sunday’s Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans race.

Driving the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team Penske Chevrolet, Pagenaud led all but one lap of the opening 35 in Detroit after starting from pole position.

A caution was called just seconds into the race after a clash between Carlos Munoz and James Hinchcliffe, the latter being shunted into the wall.

Munoz bore the brunt of Hinchcliffe’s initial anger, but the Colombian was left with nowhere to go after being squeezed by Charlie Kimball. Max Chilton was also eliminated at the first corner, while Takuma Sato was fortunate to continue after also being tagged. The majority of the field used the caution period to pit briefly.

Pagenaud managed to retain his lead once the race returned to green before eking out a gap to Ryan Hunter-Reay through the first stint of the race. By the time the drivers’ championship leader came in for his second pit stop and made the move onto the black primary Firestone tires, his advantage stood at over five seconds, allowing him to re-claim the lead once the pit cycle had been completed.

Juan Pablo Montoya battled his way up from P10 on the grid to run fifth ahead of the first scheduled round of stops, having pulled off a superb pass on Penske teammate Will Power early on. The Colombian attempted a repeat move on Scott Dixon, only for the two to make contact. Both were forced to pit for light repairs, dropping out of the top five.

Hunter-Reay dropped back after making his first planned stop, losing out to both Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves. Sebastien Bourdais was able to rise to third after making an early second stop as KVSH Racing looked to repeat their strategic success that took the Frenchman to victory on Saturday.

As the race neared half-distance, Kanaan began to close on Pagenaud at the front, the Penske driver appearing to save fuel in a bid to make a two-stop strategy work. Bourdais had also been in striking distance before pitting just on lap 33, lifting Castroneves to third ahead of Hunter-Reay and Power.

On lap 35, a full course caution was called when Montoya shunted not long after making his third pit stop, capping off a tough weekend for the Penske driver.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III