NTT IndyCar Series: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix – Preview

Felix Rosenqvist during practice for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. © [Jamie Sheldrick/ Spacesuit Media]

Felix Rosenqvist during practice for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. © [Jamie Sheldrick/ Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

After spending most of May in Indianapolis harvesting “Double Points” in the 500, things get  back to a “street course normal” as

Race Facts: This will be the only two-day doubleheader on the IndyCar schedule with 70-lap, 164.5-mile races having separate qualifying on Saturday and Sunday. Located on an island in the Detroit River, Belle Isle Park has hosted Indy car events since 1992 on the tight 2.3-mile, 14-turn street course. Records: Race, Graham Rahal (2017), 1:33.36.370/ 105.442 mph. Qualifying, Takuma Sato (2017), – one lap, 1:13.673/114.831 mph.

Last Year at Detroit: Scott Dixon won Race 1 for Chip Ganassi Racing Honda from his front row starting spot, leading three times (34 laps), taking the lead for good from Ryan Hunter-Reay on lap 46. This was Dixon’s first win of 2018 on his way to his fifth series title. RH-R was second with Alexander Rossi third.

On Sunday, Hunter-Reay came from tenth on the grid and led just 18 laps to win Race 2. Rossi led 46 laps but lost the top spot as he slid into the Turn 3 run-off area under pressure from Hunter-Reay who went on to win for Andretti Autosport Honda. Rossi was forced to pit for new Firestone’s, dropping to twelfth at the checkered flag. Will Power and Ed Jones completed the podium.

2019 Season So Far: With those Indy 500-winning double points tucked deep in his helmet bag, Simon Pagenaud scored his second win of the season and leads the points chase (250) for Team Penske Chevrolet. Trailing are: 2. Josef Newgarden, 1 win, Chevrolet, (- 1); 3. Rossi, 1 win, Honda, (- 22); 4. Takuma Sato, 1 win, Honda, (- 47); 5. Dixon, 0 wins, Honda, (- 47). Colton Herta has the other season win.

The Field: Just 22 cars are entered for the Saturday/Sunday twin races; the smallest grid of the season. Juncos has no more races scheduled for the remainder of the schedule.


  • CART raced in Detroit three times at a downtown circuit (a remnant of the previous Formula One track) from 1989-1991.
  • Tony Kanaan has raced in 17 Detroit events.
  • There are four drivers entered this weekend who haven’t raced Indy cars at the Belle Isle Park circuit: Marcus Ericsson, Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist.
  • Dixon’s win here in Race 1 was the 42nd of his IndyCar/CART career.
  • TV: Race- Both races Saturday & Sunday, NBC, 3 p.m. (ET). Qualifying- Saturday, Race 1, Noon (ET), NBCSN, taped… Sunday, Race 2, 10:30 a.m. (ET), NBC, live.

Our Take: Team Penske may have the most wins at Belle Isle Park for Chevrolet, but recently Honda has had the upper hand, winning 10 times here since 2007. Having said that, Penske is strong everywhere, and with Simon Pagenaud sweeping both Indy races and the pole, he could continue his streak here. But with Honda dominating here recently, we’ll go with Andretti Autosport as they were first and second in both Detroit events last season. Which AA drivers? We’ll take Rossi and Hunter-Reay.

Final Words: Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank, Ganassi Racing Honda): “Detroit is one of the most challenging weekends of the season. Two races in two days. Two qualifying sessions in two days. All that coming right after the dust is settling from the Indy 500…In (those) seven days the championship can really turn, going from double points in Indy, to a double race weekend in Detroit. But that’s what this is all about.”




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