Sebastien Bourdais survived a series of crashes involving the frontrunners, caught a little bit of luck of caution cycles and held off Takuma Sato in the closing laps to win the second Dual in Detroit on Sunday afternoon at the Raceway in Belle Isle.
Here’s a brief rundown.
How it happened
Still reeling from overnight thunderstorms and morning showers, the Raceway at Belle Isle was drenched for most of the first half of the race. As a result, drivers cautiously paced themselves around the 2.35-mile, 14-turn street course while waiting for a dry line to form around the racing surface.
The first caution did not waive until lap 37, and Bourdais was among the few that gambled on red-wall dry tires on a track that was still borderline damp. The other contenders mostly took on wet tires, a decision that would cost them track position over the next several laps.
Bourdais first inherited the lead with 19 laps to go and never looked back despite a series of restarts and a red flag. Takuma Sato gave it his best shot on the final restart, but was ultimately forced to deal with a hard-charging Graham Rahal. Bourdais said it was tougher than he made it look at the end, especially considering he knew he could run out of fuel at any moment.
“That was just about as nerve wracking as it gets,” Bourdais said after the race. “When we elected to stay out, I was like ‘Oh man, it is all or nothing’ from there. All I could hope for was just the same scenario as NOLA – complicated conditions and one yellow after another and it was the right call today again.”
It’s worth noting that Bourdais pitted on the same lap as polesitter Juan Pablo Montoya, who ultimately ran out of fuel. It was very much a close call by every measurable standard.
Sato and Rahal completed the podium in Hondas, with Bourdais taking the top spot for Chevrolet. In a season dominated by Chevrolet teams, Honda survived the melee and several drivers running out of fuel to take eight of the top-10 spots.
All in all, a good day for the underdogs.
What does it mean?
The dreary conditions over the weekend were largely unpleasant, but they did allow a shakeup away from the standard of the current state of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing laid waste to the rest of the paddock throughout the month of May at Indianapolis, but nothing could fell their way this weekend in Detroit.
Andretti Autosport swept the top two positions on Saturday in a rain-shortened affair, while forgotten Chevrolet program KV Racing received a major boost in Bourdais’s victory.
The Dual in Detroit proved nothing is still easy to predict in the modern IndyCar Series, and there is something positive to be found in that notion.
Championship Set to Receive Major Shakeup
Montoya, Will Power, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves occupied the top spots in the championship standings entering the second Dual in Detroit and started up front when qualifying was rained out on Sunday morning.
Despite the advantageous starting positions, each one of them had problems that should allow Rahal, Marco Andretti and Bourdais to inch closer to the top of the standings.
Montoya ran out of fuel on the last lap and finished 10th, while Power had a steering wheel issue early in the race and could never find himself on the right side of the strategy calls as a result. He spun late in the race inside the top-10 and made contact with Castroneves, eliminating them both from contention. They finished 18th and 19th, respectively.
Dixon was wrecked by his teammate, Charlie Kimball, in the closing laps and finished 20th.
Race No. 1 Winner Munoz Out Early
Out to prove that his rain-shortened first-career victory was no fluke, Carlos Muñoz was a man on the move in the opening laps of the second Dual in Detroit. However, his hopes of a doubleheader sweep were erased when he suddenly began smoking on lap 10.
Muñoz started 11th after qualifying got wiped out by early showers on Sunda,y but had worked his way up to fifth when his engine blew up in a puff of smoke. His team reported a loss of water pressure leading up to the malfunction and he finished 23rd – the last car on the grid.
The IndyCar Series returns to oval competition next week in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. That race will air on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Ed Carpenter is the defending winner.
- Sebastien Bourdais
- Takuma Sato
- Graham Rahal
- Tristan Vautier
- Marco Andretti
- Conor Daly
- Jack Hawksworth
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Gabby Chaves
- Juan Pablo Montoya
- Charlie Kimball
- Sage Karam
- Tony Kanaan
- Simon Pagenaud
- James Jakes
- Stefano Coletti
- Luca Filippi
- Will Power
- Helio Castroneves
- Scott Dixon
- Josef Newgarden
- Rodolfo Gonzalez
- Carlos Munoz