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IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix: Weekend Preview

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Walter Kuhn/IndyCar (1); Chris Jones/IndyCar (2)

With the marquee Indianapolis 500 now in the rear view mirror, the NTT IndyCar Series turns its sights north this weekend, with one of the most unique events on the schedule: the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, held on Belle Isle in Detroit. Debuting on the IndyCar schedule in 1989 after hosting Formula 1 for a number of years, Detroit saw multiple gaps in its presence on the calendar, but became the host of what is now IndyCar’s only remaining doubleheader in 2013. Belle Isle took over the event from the Renaissance Center in 1992.

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud is the toast of the town after a sublime May, having won not only the Indianapolis 500 from the pole but also the IndyCar Grand Prix two weeks beforehand. The Frenchman, the first racer from his country to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing since Gaston Chevrolet in 1920, is now the only driver in history to win both races and qualifying first for the 500 in doing so.

But Chevrolet (the manufacturer) hasn’t taken a victory in Detroit since 2016, when Pagenaud’s teammate Will Power took the checkered flag in the second leg of the doubleheader. Graham Rahal swept the 2017 edition of the event, becoming the first driver to accomplish the feat, while Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay split last year’s rounds. With all three coming off of disappointments at Indianapolis, expect the Honda trio to chase podiums pretty hard and break the 3-3 tie in manufacturer victories so far this year.

Any talk of Honda is incomplete without mentioning Alexander Rossi, however. The 2016 Indy winner had an attention-grabbing race last weekend: he put lapped veterans Helio Castroneves and Oriol Servia on blast with blocking accusations, and issues fueling the car could have ruined his race if not for a well timed caution. Rossi fought Pagenaud tooth and nail for the win in the final 13 laps of the race, with four passes for the lead in that span; while nothing can erase the disappointment of an Indy loss, Rossi scoring his first Detroit victory would surely help.

This weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix races air at 3:30PM ET/12:30PM PT on both Saturday and Sunday on NBC. From there, the series wraps up a three-week span of consecutive races at Texas Motor Speedway with the DXC Technology 600.

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