IndyCar Recap: June 2017 Pt.1 – Detroit Belle Isle

The Dual in Detroit

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The Dual In Detroit: two Grands Prix in one weekend on the challenging and bumpy Belle Isle street course, just one week after the Indy 500. Find out how the points race changed during this difficult double.

With 4 races in June being too many for one post, I’ll look at the Texas oval and Elkhart Lake road course races in the next recap.

Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 1

3rd June 2017 – Race 7 of 17 – The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Michigan

Video: Full Race (1h44m)

James Hinchcliffe spun at turn 1 on cold tyres as they slowed a little for the corners. He was restarted and able to join the back of the back because the Safety Car came out.

Straight after the green it became a strategic contest, 3 stops vs 2 stops, the latter theoretically faster but exposes you to the risk of Safety Cars.

Graham Rahal was fast, pole position and quick all day. And it fell well for him. A mid-race SC – Kimball and Daly made contact putting a fast-running Daly out – left Rahal with one stop to make against others’ two, so from about lap 30 the race was effectively decided. He was fast enough that he probably would’ve won anyway.

This being Belle Isle it was never guaranteed, team and driver still had to execute and to hope there were no more yellows which would’ve changed it all.

Esteban Gutierrez made his IndyCar debut on one of the toughest tracks of the year having never driven an IndyCar. In those circumstances it was no surprise he finished 19th, a lap down.

One week after that massive accident and nursing foot injuries, Scott Dixon finished 2nd. And Hinchcliffe having restarted last drove brilliantly to recover 3rd.

Worth watching? Decent strategic race early on but not particularly interesting past halfway.

  1. 15 Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Honda);
  2. 9 Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Honda);
  3. 5 James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt Peterson Honda);
  4. 2 Josef Newgarden (Team Penske Chevy);
  5. 98 Alexander Rossi (Andretti Herta Honda);
  6. 7 Mikhail Aleshin (Schmidt Peterson Honda);
  7. 3 Helio Castroneves (Team Penske Chevy);
  8. 26 Takuma Sato (Andretti Herta Honda);
  9. 19 Ed Jones (Dale Coyne Chevy);
  10. 20 Spencer Pigot (Ed Carpenter Chevy);

Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 2

3rd June 2017 – Race 8 of 17 – The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Michigan

Video: Full race (1h48m).

The second race was more fun, in that there was actual on-track passing on TV!

Sato started on pole with Hunter-Reay second, the start was very tight but everyone got through. Contact a little later between Hunter-Reay and Castroneves gave the latter a puncture and the former some damage necessitating a front wing change.

Somewhere around this time some early takers went to the 3-stop strategy, one of which was Dixon with a long stop with refuelling problems.

Rahal and Newgarden were quick in the middle of the race, getting into clear air in the middle stint when Sato had pitted really made their race.

Everything strung out until the last 10 laps when Newgarden was 8 seconds down but 1sec per lap faster. It looked close – but then a Safety Car was out, James Hinchcliffe had electrical failure and just as that was cleared away Spencer Pigot’s turbo blew. Race over? No – a Red Flag!

A two lap restart then, which Rahal dominated on cold tyres, just drove away from Newgarden. Impressive.

Another race of recoveries: Dixon back to 6th, Castroneves to 9th.

Worth watching? A lot more action in the first half of this one, but again I got bored in the second half, until that restart.

  1. 15 Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Honda);
  2. 2 Josef Newgarden (Team Penske Chevy);
  3. 12 Will Power (Team Penske Chevy);
  4. 26 Takuma Sato (Andretti Honda);
  5. 1 Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske Chevy);
  6. 9 Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Honda);
  7. 98 Alexander Rossi (Andretti Herta Honda);
  8. 83 Charlie Kimball (Chip Ganassi Honda);
  9. 3 Helio Castroneves (Team Penske Chevy);
  10. 10 Tony Kanaan (Chip Ganassi Chevy);

Points Scored at Detroit Belle Isle

BI1 BI2 DETROIT
Graham Rahal 54 53 107
Josef Newgarden 32 41 73
Scott Dixon 41 28 69
Takuma Sato 24 34 58
Alexander Rossi 30 26 56
Helio Castroneves 28 22 50
Will Power 12 35 47
James Hinchcliffe 36 10 46
Simon Pagenaud 14 30 44
Mikhail Aleshin 29 14 43
Tony Kanaan 15 20 35
Marco Andretti 18 17 35
Carlos Munoz 16 19 35
Max Chilton 19 15 34
Charlie Kimball 9 24 33
Ryan Hunter-Reay 17 14 31
Ed Jones 22 8 30
Spencer Pigot 20 9 29
Esteban Gutierrez 11 16 27
Conor Daly 8 18 26
JR Hildebrand 13 12 25
Oriol Servia 10 11 21
  • Two great performances from Graham Rahal and his team nearly maximum points from the weekend – Sato robbed the point for pole in race 2.
  • Newgarden and Dixon were most consistent among championship contenders.
  • Sato isn’t considered a title contender but he and Rossi scored well. Meanwhile, Hunter-Reay did not have a good weekend.
  • It is interesting that most of the field had one good race and one bad race (or one bad race and one good race). The likes of Rahal, Newgarden and Dixon maximised their chances in both.

Points Total To June 4th

Pos Pre +/- Name Pre Det Total Wins
1 3 2 Scott Dixon 234 69 303  
2 1 -1 Helio Castroneves 245 50 295  
3 4 1 Takuma Sato 234 58 292 1
4 2 -2 Simon Pagenaud 234 44 278 1
5 7 2 Josef Newgarden 186 73 259 1
6 15 9 Graham Rahal 144 107 251 2
7 5 -2 Alexander Rossi 190 56 246  
8 8 0 Will Power 186 47 233 1
9 6 -3 Tony Kanaan 188 35 223  
10 10 0 James Hinchcliffe 170 46 216 1
11 9 -2 Ed Jones 185 30 215  
12 11 -1 Max Chilton 170 34 204  
13 12 -1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 152 31 183  
14 14 0 Marco Andretti 147 35 182  
15 17 2 Mikhail Aleshin 134 43 177  
16 13 -3 JR Hildebrand 148 25 173  
17 18 1 Carlos Munoz 133 35 168  
18 16 -2 Sebastien Bourdais 136 136 1
19 20 1 Charlie Kimball 99 33 132  
20 21 1 Spencer Pigot 95 29 124  
21 23 2 Conor Daly 88 26 114  
22 19 -3 Ed Carpenter 105 105  
23 22 -1 Juan Pablo Montoya 93 93  
24 26 2 Oriol Servia 40 21 61  
25 24 -1 Gabby Chaves 53 53  
26 25 -1 Fernando Alonso 47 47  
27 27 0 Sebastian Saavedra 33 33  
28 28 0 Pippa Mann 32 32  
29 35 6 Esteban Gutierrez 0 27 27  
30 29 -1 Jay Howard 24 24  
31 30 -1 Zach Veach 23 23  
= 31 -1 Sage Karam 23 23  
33 32 -1 James Davison 21 21  
34 33 -1 Jack Harvey 17 17  
35 34 -1 Buddy Lazier 14 14
  • Dixon takes the points lead, up from 3rd. The model of consistency, this is how he wins his Championships. No wins but he leads the field in podium finishes with 4.
  • Pre-event points leader Castroneves drops to 2nd. Helio is the only driver to have finished all 8 races in the top ten and that’s why he’s 2nd despite no wins and 1 podium. When others have bad days, Helio keeps going!
  • Sato is up to 3rd. Pagenaud drops to 4th.
  • Newgarden continues his march forward, up 2 to 5th.
  • Obviously the double-winner makes the biggest move, Graham Rahal is up nine positions to 6th, all of a sudden within range of the leaders.

In the graph you can see the black line of Rahal jumping places and also the top three in the points race making a break for it. [Click for open full size.]

IndyCar 2017 June pt1

Part 2 & Next Month

June Part 2 will feature the Texas speedway and the Road America Elkhart Lake road course.

There are another three races in July before the poor mechanics and truckies finally get a summer break.

All this coming soon on the IWTMR IndyCar Catchup.

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