IndyCar tried to wait out the thunderstorm, but after 47 laps of sporadic rain, series officials were forced to prematurely call race No. 1 of the Dual in Detroit and hand Andretti Autosport young gun Carlos Munoz his first career IndyCar Series victory.
How it happened: The race was plagued by showers from the onset, forcing drivers to start on wet tires. But a period of sunshine that started around lap 10 sent teams scrambling for slicks. The erratic weather ensured that the first half of the series’ only doubleheader this season would be decided by both strategy and speed.
Waiting to change from slicks to wets until the last possible moment placed Marco Andretti and Munoz well out in front of the field. Andretti chose to pit on lap 40, and only fell to second behind Munoz, who pitted two laps later and maintained the top spot upon pit exit.
Four laps later, on lap 46, thunder and lightning joined the downpour and IndyCar waited nearly an hour before calling the race.
What it means: This is a big victory for both Honda and Andretti Autosport. It’s no secret that Honda has been well behind Chevrolet on pure speed this season on the road and street courses and Andretti, a usual contender, has personified that struggle. Stealing the first two positions on Saturday is a major coup as Honda continues to work toward finding more downforce and horsepower.
Will Power also made huge gains on Juan Pablo Montoya for the season championship, finishing fourth to his teammate’s 10th. After Montoya defeated Power in the double-points Indianapolis 500, it was imperative that Power respond and that’s exactly what he did, overcoming an early pit stop to post his fifth top five of the season.
Early crashes take out Rahal, Kanaan and Kimball: Graham Rahal entered the Dual in Detroit looking like the best hope for Honda to take the fight to the powerful Chevrolet juggernaut of Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing. He had already finished second twice this season at Barber and Indianapolis while finishing second in this event a year ago – all to Power.
But the optimism didn’t last long in Belle Isle as Rahal got caught up in a four-car accident on the sixth lap that wasn’t of his own making.
In the rain, Stefano Coletti drove deep into turn 1 and hit James Jakes into Tony Kanaan. This spun Kanaan sideways and Rahal had nowhere to go, plowing into Kanaan. It destroyed both cars while Coletti continued on with minimal damage.
Rahal said drivers were just taking “stupid chances” for it being so early in the race and on wet tires.
“[Josef] Newgarden drove underneath me and I was letting him go and unfortunately, that put me a car width off the inside and Kanaan and Jakes crashed,” Rahal said. “It’s impossible to see right now. You just got to be smart out there and be really, really cautious. I was just playing this out as a 70-lap race or a two-hour race and I don’t think a lot of guys are right now. ”
The next caution was brought out by Charlie Kimball as the American Ganassi driver slapped the wall hard coming out of turn 2. The damage was terminal and immediately knocked him out of the race. Kimball was also surging from the momentum of a podium in the Indianapolis 500.
What’s next: The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit will continue on Sunday afternoon with IndyCar Series race No. 2. The green flag is expected to wave at 3:50 p.m. ET with the event airing on ABC.
Qualifying for the second race is also set for Sunday and will begin at 11:25 a.m.
- Carlos Munoz
- Marco Andretti
- Simon Pagenaud
- Will Power
- Scott Dixon
- Helio Castroneves
- Jack Hawksworth
- Josef Newgarden
- Luca Filippi
- Juan Pablo Montoya
- Takuma Sato
- James Jakes
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Sebastien Bourdais
- Stefano Coletti (R)
- Sage Karam (R)
- Tristan Vautier
- Gabby Chaves (R)
- Conor Daly (R)
- Tony Kanaan
- Rodolfo Gonzalez (R)
- Charlie Kimball
- Graham Rahal