IndyCar Preview: Chevy Indy Dual In Detroit

May 30, 2013 – Belle Isle Park, the urban oasis in the Detroit River, will roar to the sound of the IZOD Indy Car Series on June 1-2, as the Chevy Indy Dual in Detroit marks the debut of doubleheader racing for the open wheel set.

The Saturday/Sunday events will see a 70-lap, 164.2 mile race each day around the, at times tight 13-turn, 2.36 miles concrete/ asphalt circuit.

The two-day, doubleheader scheduling is something different for the series this season. Texas Speedway hosted twin races, run on the same date, in 2011, but that format was not very well received by the paddock. The back-to-back-races here (counted as two separate events) helped bring the IICS calendar to nineteen races for 2013, albeit at only sixteen venues.

Beside Detroit, doubleheaders will be contested at Toronto and Houston; all three being street courses.

This will be the 14-15th Indy Car races at Belle Isle and the 18th Indy car race in Detroit. CART hosted three races from 1989-1991 on a 2.5-mile circuit in Detroit.

Five current IICS drivers have won on the Isle: Dario Franchise (’99), Helio Castroneves (’00-’01), Tony Kanaan (’07), Justin Wilson (’08) and Scott Dixon (’12) are among the 25 cars entered.

Dixon, the pole sitter last year, led all 60 laps in the race that was shortened from 90 circuits due to a two-hour red flag to allow crews to repair the track surface that had broken up.

The promoters and the city of Detroit which owns the circuit, have poured 80,000 sq. ft. of new concrete and 3,000 sq. ft. of new asphalt, hoping to ensure a trouble-free track surface.

Coming into the 2013 Detroit event, Chevrolet has won four times, including the recent Indianapolis 500, while Honda has just one, thanks to Takuma Sato’s Long Beach win. Honda, however, did sweep the first three spots (Dixon, Franchitti and Simon Pagenaud) here last year and could be favored to repeat.

Another factor that continues to hang over the series is the lack of wins by two top teams.

Andretti Autosport-Chevrolet has captured three of the five races this season, while the Penske-Chevy and Ganassi-Honda teams remain winless in 2013.

Marco Andretti continues to lead the points chase for the first time in his career.

Consistency is the key for the third-generation Andretti as his off-season coaching in Europe has paid off with five top-seven finishes so far. He leads second-place Sato by 11 points and third-place Castroneves by sixteen.

One driver change for Detroit finds Mike Conway replacing Ana Beatriz as a teammate to Justin Wilson at Dale Coyne Racing. The two were together at Dreyer & Reinbold in 2010. Conway last drove in the series at Long Beach in April for Rahal Letterman Lanigan. Wilson won here on Belle Isle in 2008.

Tony Kanaan comes to the Motor City on the heels of a very popular win for KV Racing Technology-Chevrolet at the 97th Indianapolis 500 last week. TK won at Belle Isle in 2007 and has climbed to seventh in points. Could he make it two in a row?

Castroneves is in a good spot to bring Roger Penske his first win of the season. The Brazilian has two poles and two wins at Detroit, including a fence climb after his first series’ victory in 2001.

Will Sato capture his second win for Honda and AJ? Will Kanaan’s teammate Simona De Silvestro repeat her strong sixth-place run at St. Petersburg? How about Target Ganassi? Franchitti hasn’t won since Indy 2012 and Dixon hasn’t visited victory lane since winning here a year ago.

Competition within the series reached a fever pitch at the Indy 500, and the road/street races, especially Brazil, have been equally competitive.

Who will win? I look for a Penske breakthrough at Detroit, with Castroneves winning his third here. If the “Captain’s” team doesn’t come through, then I’ll go with Marco Andretti to pad his points lead with a win.

One-hundred thousand fans are expected to pack Belle Isle for the weekend, and the races will be televised on ABC at 3:00pm (eastern) on both Saturday and Sunday.

The IMS radio network can be heard on SiriusXM channel 211.

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