Here’s Everything You Missed During the IMSA and IndyCar Race Weekend at Belle Isle
With three races between the two series, there was plenty to keep track of in the Motor City.
The first weekend in June brought loads of action to Detroit's Belle Isle street circuit with IMSA holding a 100-minute sprint prior to IndyCar's doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday. Although weather showed its hand and forced a few delays, even causing IndyCar's first race of the weekend to be shortened, both series had stellar showings that contributed to their ever-intensifying title fights.
To sum everything up, we've compiled a quick rundown of each event to make sure you're up-to-speed on what went on with two of America's premier racing series.
IMSA Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle
With the GT Le Mans class away to France in preparation for this month's 24-hour endurance race at Circuit de la Sarthe, the DPi and GT Daytona categories were left to fight during Saturday afternoon's sportscar battle. This allowed the two impressively tight classes to run in relatively light traffic for an hour and 40 minutes, resulting in yet another entertaining spectacle which we've come to expect from the IMSA WeatherTech series.
Team Penske pieced together a performance in Detroit that proved unbeatable as Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya claimed overall victory in the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 DPi. The organization's familiarity with the Belle Isle circuit surely factored into this effort, which ended in Acura Team Penske's third win since entering IMSA's Prototype class in 2018. They were able to lead all but seven laps of the caution-plagued race, which saw a total of six yellow flags.
Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran piloted the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi.V.R to second place at the day's end and were joined on the podium by Acura Team Penske's No. 7 car driven by Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor.
Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand took home top honors in GT Daytona by piloting their AIM Vasser Sullivan No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 to the top of the podium. The result had to be earned, though, as they fought with popular Porsche factory driver Patrick Long and his teammate Zacharie Robichon in the Park Place Motorsports No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Finally, ace Andy Lally was able to wheel the No. 44 Audi R8 GT3 to third with the help of John Potter, the former overcoming a determined Katherine Legge in her No. 86 MSR Heinricher Acura NSX.
IndyCar Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 1
Roger Penske & Co. carried their momentum forward on Saturday, which was initiated by Simon Pagenaud's sweep of the month of May, by winning with Josef Newgarden during the first race of IndyCar's doubleheader weekend. He and the No. 2 Hitachi crew triumphed over polesitter Alexander Rossi, regaining the championship lead in the process.
Despite rain delaying the race start for more than an hour, the field arrived ready to hustle around the 2.35-mile, 14-turn temporary street course. Newgarden, who started from fourth, kicked off the swing of pit stops for dry tires as he came in on lap 17. This allowed him to lay down fast times on the track which was heating up thanks to a break from the previous spat of precipitation.
Trouble hit Newgarden's fellow Team Penske member Will Power as well as last season's series champion Scott Dixon, the latter suffering an uncharacteristic single-car crash. With the pair of ever-present rivals knocked out of contention, the way was paved for JoNew to earn the 12th win of his IndyCar career in a race that was eventually shortened to 75 minutes due to weather, concluding after 43 laps.
Win the hastened checkered flag was flown, Alexander Rossi sat P2 in his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda, the American finishing runner-up for the second race in a row. Likewise, Takuma Sato finished in third—as he did at the Indianapolis 500.
IndyCar Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 2
Sunday brought about better fortunes for Scott Dixon and his No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing team as they were able to play their strategy perfectly, placing the PNC Bank-sponsored Honda in the winner's circle for the first time this season. Dixon, who also won at Belle Isle in 2018, was elated to recover from Saturday's mishap.
“Today was all about redemption,” explained the five-time IndyCar champion. "The team nailed the strategy, the car was super-fast. We were able to get the mileage we needed to, which was going to be really tough, with the exception of those last couple cautions.
“I can’t believe we ended up here today and it’s just fantastic. Fantastic.”
Dixon pipped Arrow Schmidt Peterson rookie Marcus Ericsson, who achieved his best-ever IndyCar finish in P2. The Swede, who transferred over from Formula 1 in 2019, was seemingly just as excited to get back on the podium after years of racing in the midfield.
“It was amazing, my first podium since 2013 (in GP2), and you just have to thank the whole team at Arrow SPM,” Ericsson said. “They work so hard all year and we had so much bad luck, and I’ve done mistakes when we’ve been looking really good. So, to finally get a result like this and be on the podium, I think is a great reward for all of the hard work. Now, I think we can build on this.”
Alas, Will Power was able to pull off a masterful drive that landed him in third, overcoming a collision as well as stalling on the track. This marked a high point for Power, who has had his fair share of tough luck this season, landing him on the podium as the sole representative for Team Penske in race number two.