NTT Indy Car Series: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Preview

Marcus Ericsson - winner of Race 1 in the Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit. [Photo by: Chris Owens]

Marcus Ericsson was the winner of Race 1 in last year’s Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit. [Photo by: Chris Owens]

by Paul Gohde

After spending several weeks racing twice at Indianapolis, the NTT Series returns to Detroit’s Belle Isle island park for the final time before a planned move back to the streets of Detroit in 2023. The “street” course wends its way around the park on a tight course that demands care, especially on its tight corners. The change from 203+mph at IMS, to a winner’s speed of just over 100 come Sunday, will test the skills of the field in a much different way since their experience at Indianapolis.

Detroit Race Facts: The 2.35-mile,14-turn temporary course opened for CART Indy cars in 1992 after three years of racing on Detroit’s often bumpy city streets. The field will turn around Belle Isle for 70 laps (164.5-miles).  Takuma Sato holds the course qualifying record of 1:13.673 (114.831mph) set in in 2017. The race record of 1:33:36.379 (105.442 mph) is held by Graham Rahal, also in 2017.

Recent Detroit Race History: Due to the Pandemic, no race was held here in 2020 , but a doubleheader was scheduled for both IndyCar and Indy Lights  last season with Marcus Ericsson and Pato O’Ward winning in IC, while Kyle Kirkwood swept both Lights events.

2022 Season So Far: Points after six races: 1. Marcus Ericsson (226 pts.-1 win) … 2. Pato O’Ward (213-1) …3. Alex Palou (212) …4. Will Power (202) …5. Josef Newgarden (174-2)…Other winners: Colton Herta and Scott McLaughlin… Manufacturer’s Points: Chevrolet ( 507 pts)…Honda (467).

Race Entries:  Twenty-Six cars are entered for Detroit with Tatiana Calderone back for AJ Foyt Racing after sitting out the 500. Junco/Hollinger replaces Cameron Iliott who was ruled out after his Indy 500 incident. He will be replaced by Santino Ferrucci, who hopes to return to the NTT Series full-time, for this race only.

Notes: Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon have each won three times at Detroit…Dixon has raced in 20 events at Detroit…Tatiana Calderone, Devlin DeFrancesco, Kyle Kirkwood and David Malukas are racing here for the first time…Thirteen Indy Lights cars are entered for the two IL events…Jimmie Johnson was voted the 2022 Indy 500 rookie of the year despite his late race incident. He had led two laps (188-189) prior to his crash four laps later…It has been reported that representatives from Argentina met with Indy Car regarding a season-opening, non-points event there in the future. Many feel that costs for promoters, teams, sponsors, etc. could be a barrier, especially if the race didn’t count in the standings. A USAC Indy car doubleheader event was held there in 1971 at the three-mile Autodromo Ciudad de Rafaela oval…Team Penske has captured victories at Detroit seven times.

Our Take: With the hustle and bustle of three weeks at Indianapolis now in the record books, teams can get back to business on the regular NTT schedule. The veteran driver Josef Newgarden has two wins so far, but the younger guard of winners, Herta, Ericsson, McLaughlin and O’Ward are likely to win their share of the upcoming events. You’d like to see a driver who hasn’t won yet capture a race or two. Our pick for a first timer would be Santino Ferrucci if he can hang on to a regular ride.

“They Said It” Santino Ferrucci (on replacing Callum Iliott at Juncos/Hollinger for Detroit): “I’m happy to be back in the car. It’s unfortunate for Callum under the circumstances. I hope his hand heals really quickly and he is back on the track soon. I’m just here to help the team and see if we can get them a really good result. I’m looking forward to having some fun and carry the momentum I have from Indy (where he finished 10th).”

Next Race: Sunday, June 12,2022, SONSIO Grand Prix, Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI.

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