Race: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear – Race 1
Date: June 3, 2017
No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud
Laps Completed: 70/70
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 4th (-24)
Recap: Simon Pagenaud got caught out by pit strategy on Saturday afternoon in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix and could never regain his track position, coming home a disappointing 16th in the first of two races this weekend on Belle Isle. Pagenaud started the day by grabbing the seventh starting position following the morning’s abbreviated qualifying session. As the race began, Pagenaud jumped up to sixth and had a spirited battle with teammate Josef Newgarden. Early in the race, a number of different pit strategies began to play out and Pagenaud found himself falling behind, stuck at the back of the pack in the 17th position. However, as pit stops cycled out, he would fight his way back into the top 10. Another battle with teammate Will Power on lap 30 saw Pagenaud lose several spots, followed by a caution that once again jumbled the racing order. Two more pit stops saw Pagenaud drop back to 20th, although he eventually worked his way back to 16th. As the laps wound down, Pagenaud didn’t get a caution to bunch the field and use the speed of his DXC Technology Chevrolet. The disappointing finish dropped Pagenaud back to fourth in the point standings as the team returns to action tomorrow for the second 70-lap event at Detroit.
Quote: “That was a frustrating race for the DXC Technology Chevy team. That’s not the way we wanted to debut this beautiful car. I’m not sure how we actually ended up finishing 16th. There were just so many different pit strategies out there today. That caution also bit us at the wrong time. I hate to drop down in the points, but we have another race tomorrow. This is a strong team and we will rebound.”
No. 2 Hum by Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden
Laps Completed: 70/70
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 6th (-57)
Recap: Josef Newgarden drove a hard race in the first of two races at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix and found himself in the fourth position as the checkered flag waved. Newgarden began the race ninth in the field of 22 INDYCAR drivers. On Lap 10, the Tennessee-born wheelman visited the pits for fuel and four black tires. On Lap 13, Newgarden found himself 17th, his lowest position in the race. But the youngster wouldn’t stay there long as Newgarden began to make his charge back to the top 10. Through another round of pit stops – with cars on varying pit strategies – Newgarden restarted 16th. Once again, Josef began his charge back to the top 10 and was 13th by Lap 32 and back inside the top 10 by Lap 36. He wouldn’t fall out of the top 10 the rest of the day. The No. 2 Hum by Verizon Chevrolet returned to the pits for the final time on lap 50 and kept himself in the top five, running fifth. On Lap 58, Josef moved into the fourth position where he remained until the 70th lap of the race was completed. The No. 2 team showed a strong performance and quite a bit of speed which should fuel them to another great result in the second race of the weekend on Sunday, June 4.
No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves
Laps Completed: 70/70
Laps Led: 11
Points Position: 2nd (-2)
Recap: Helio Castroneves spent Saturday looking for a little luck at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear. In the afternoon qualifying session, the veteran had his fastest lap taken away by race officials for not slowing down enough for a local caution. The penalty cost Castroneves the pole position. However, his next fastest lap was good enough to start second on the grid for the first of two races this weekend on Belle Isle. On the initial start, Castroneves considered a move on pole sitter and eventual race winner Graham Rahal, but thought the better of it as it was too early to risk the entire race. Running first or second most of the day despite a number of different pit strategies throughout the field, the No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet team needed the second caution to come out two laps later to have things play out as they needed. Castroneves was never in fuel-saving mode throughout the 70-lap event. As a result, Castroneves, despite having the green light to race as hard as he liked, never could make it back to the front to mount a challenge. The Brazilian came into the event with a slight edge in the championship point standings, but now trails Scott Dixon, who was the runner-up to Rahal in the race, by just two markers heading into Sunday’s second 70-lap race.
Quote: “That was really fun. The cautions didn’t work out for us. I didn’t save an ounce of fuel. The Hitachi Chevy was super fast. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t get to the front. It’s pretty difficult to pass, so you need a few things to go your way and they didn’t. I drove the heck out of that car today. The fun part is we get to go right back out there tomorrow.”
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power
Laps Completed: 69/70
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 9th (-77)
Recap: It was an all-around frustrating day for Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet team Saturday afternoon at Detroit. The early afternoon qualifying session for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear netted an uncharacteristically tough starting position of 11th for the three-time pole winner this season. With passing hard to come by on the 2.35-mile Belle Isle track, Power needed to change the script with pit strategy in order to collect his second win of the 2017 season. However, two early-race cautions were not part of the winning equation for the Aussie. Power needed a yellow flag later in the event to have his pit strategy work out, but unfortunately it never came. Having to go into fuel-saving mode, the Verizon team finished a lap down in the 18th position on Saturday. A season ago, Power bounced back from a loose wheel and a 20th-place finish in the Saturday Detroit race to win Sunday’s rematch which set off a streak of four wins in six races. In the championship standings, Power holds down the ninth position – 77 points in back of the leader.
Quote: “We needed a few things to go our way today and they didn’t. The Verizon Chevy team has worked hard. My hat is off the Graham (Rahal). They had a great car today. We were really needing a caution on those last two stints. We had to save so much fuel and go really slow in a really fast race car. The bright side is that we get right back at it tomorrow.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!