Sebastien Bourdais Wins Race 1 at Detroit

Roger Penske looked ready to roll in his own back yard, with three of his cars starting 1-2-3 on Saturday. As fate would have it though, it was KVSH Racing that ruled the day. Sebastien Bourdais won at Belle Isle for the second consecutive year, and earning his 35th career win. That ties him with Bobby Unser for sixth on the All-Time Wins list. Bourdais started 13th and led just 12 laps on the day, but in the end it was the perfect strategy from the team.

Conor Daly had yet another impressive drive, earning a career best second place finish. The Dale Coyne Racing driver started in the 16th spot, but found his way to the front towards the end of the race. Conor finished in 6th in the second race here last year, leading 12 laps while driving then for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Daly led 4 laps today, earning his first career podium. It was just two races ago that he earned a 6th place finish in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. After finishing 33rd in last week’s Indy 500, Juan Montoya today joined Bourdais and Daly on the podium. It’s the first podium result for the Team Penske driver since his win in the season-opening race at St Petersburg.

Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1 Results

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Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top five on Saturday. Both drivers spoke about how physical the race was, and how happy they were to come away with a solid result. Castroneves moved up to 2nd place in the championship standings, 59 points behind his teammate Simon Pagenaud. Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi’s cars rounded out the top ten, with Carlos Munoz, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan, and defending Indy 500 winner, Alexander Rossi.

There were some title contenders that had a rough day on Saturday. Pagenaud started the race on pole, but faded late in the race. He was running in 7th in the final laps, but ran out of fuel and ended up finishing 13th. Josef Newgarden didn’t go anywhere, starting and finishing in the 14th position. James Hinchcliffe had a mechanical failure on the car that sent him into the tires in Turn 7. He finished 18th after his accident on Lap 42.

It was a disastrous day for Scott Dixon. The team had a new left front tire on the car to start the race, which got the car off balance. They then had an issue fueling the car during their first pit stop, which took over 20 seconds. He came back onto the track in 15th position, then suffered a gearbox issue that wouldn’t allow him to use the clutch or shift at the end of the race. The result was a 19th place finish, and dropping to third in the championship standings.

Will Power’s dreadful season continued on Saturday as well. During the caution for Hinchcliffe’s accident, Power had an issue with the car and pulled off course. Apparently his right rear wheel was loose, and they were unable to recover the car due to his position on the course. His day ended early, with a 20th place finish. There were eight lead changes among six drivers, and just two cautions for eight total laps. Bourdais’ margin of victory was 2.0401 seconds over Daly, with an average speed of 97.857 mph for the race.

There is no time for rest, as the teams and drivers are already preparing for the second race tomorrow. This will be the third IndyCar race in eight days, going back to last Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. There will be a 30-minute qualifying session tomorrow beginning at 10:45 AM. The grid will be set for the second race, which will once again air on ABC beginning at 3:30 PM.

Race Photos via IndyCar

Driver Quotes

Juan Montoya: “My guys did a good job (in the pits) but where we missed it was when we were trying to save fuel when we were leading to try to make it to the rain, but the rain never happened. It was the right move if you were looking at the radar. We had good pace and everyone at Verizon and Chevy and Team Penske have done an amazing job. We had a boost problem at the end. If we didn’t have that I think we would have won it anyway. It’s good to get back on the podium and a good result. (On having a car to win for Race 2) If we have long runs we’re OK. If you noticed the first stint we struggled and then the car just came to life and is pretty good.”

Helio Castroneves: “I have to say the Hitachi Chevrolet was fantastic and ran really well and we were in great position to win. On the other side, we had to save fuel for about 30 laps. But if we look at the positive side, we’ve gained a lot of points in championship (now second) and that’s very good for Team Penske. We will go back tomorrow and look for better results.”

James Hinchcliffe: “The Arrow Electronics car was really quick and the guys called a good strategy, but ultimately we had a parts failure that put us into the tires, so it’s an opportunity lost for some solid points. We were ahead of a lot of the guys that we needed to be ahead of and keeping pace with a couple of the Penskes there, which was good because they were the class of the field this weekend. Not a whole lot we can do so we’ll regroup. We know we have a quick car so we’ll just bounce back tomorrow.”

Mikhail Aleshin: “It was a tough race but we were pretty sure the SMP Racing and DOOM car was able to finish in the top ten. But then (Tony) Kanaan just crashed into the rear of my car and the rear right tire went flat. I’m not sure why he didn’t receive a penalty but my crew worked really hard and we deserved more than that.”

Max Chilton: “We started 18th. We knew we had to go forward, so I pushed like mad for the first eight laps. People pitted early and then my pace didn’t drop off, so we thought we might as well keep going. Finally made the stop because we were out of fuel and then my out lap was mega. As soon as I came out of the pits I felt like I had a very strong front end. The steering was heavy but I still had the grip so I thought maybe it was just the black tires. Then, I think it was the third time down the back straight, everything felt normal and then as I went left for the kink, my wheel just went left. I was just a passenger from that point. Something gave way on the column because I couldn’t take the wheel off when I got out.”

Scott Dixon: “It wasn’t a great day for us today. We had a new left front tire on at the start and it was a Firestone red, and I just got really loose at the start and lost positions because it had way more grip than the other three tires. Then we came in on the next stop and the Target car was super-fast. We had a fueling issue and went to the back and raced our way back to the front. The car was still really fast and we were fast with clear track in front of us. We left after our last stop and had a gearbox issue I think which led to not being able to use the clutch or shift at the end of the race.”

Tony Kanaan: “I’m not thrilled with our race today. I think we had at least a top-five car but we ran into some bad luck throughout the race. We went off strategy and came in just for fuel on our last stop thinking we’d be able to pick off some of the guys ahead of us who were saving fuel, but we weren’t able to get to them. At about 10 to go, I realized I had a broken front wing and then we got a blocking penalty with three to go that caused us to lose a spot. I’m still not sure I 100 percent agree with that call, but we’ll take a look at the replays again tonight and try to see what they were looking at when they made that decision. Regardless we’ll get the car put back together tonight and work through our strategy to have the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet ready to go to qualify in the morning and race in the afternoon.”

Sebastien Bourdais: “The call (to pit) was obviously really quick and all we needed was clean air to come back from the pretty average qualifying and I really couldn’t dream of that. I don’t even know how we got there. We just ran like stink most of the race and it worked out, so I couldn’t be any happier for Chevrolet and Hydroxycut today. It (pitting on Lap 3) would have worked even better if we had not pitted with everybody else because we ended up just pretty much where we were before. So, I couldn’t press Gabby (Chaves). For a long time I really thought the strategy was a total mess and it was never going to work, and when we finally got some clean air then I could start to get some quick lap times and make it happen. (On momentum for Race 2) I can only hope for good conditions and hopefully a better qualifying because I think if we put that No. 11 car up front in qualifying, it’s going to be tough to beat.”

Will Power: “The Verizon Chevy was great today. We started in ninth and were able to quickly gain ground and get up front. The car was really fast and felt very comfortable. Then we had that pit stop and problem with the wheel. You can’t do much about it. Things happen. My crew is the best. It was just one of those things. We’ll regroup and give it another go tomorrow.”

Graham Rahal: “The guys did a great job. I’m frustrated that somehow (Conor) Daly and (Sebastien) Bourdais got around us. I’m disappointed about that. At the end of the day the United Rentals Honda was great, we put some great laps in and to come out fourth is a nice result. Obviously I would rather be on that podium, but it’s a good first race for us here. I want to keep my podium streak here, but we will get another chance tomorrow. Pit stops were key and my guys did a great job. We put a good solid run together there to finish fourth. That was a tough race. Literally it hurt my bones. The kickback in the steering wheel is so rough that my wrists are just aching.”

Conor Daly: “This feels like a win. I can’t believe we were trying to go after (Sebastien) Bourdais and trying defend against (Juan Pablo) Montoya. I used to watch these guys here. It’s crazy. This is why you do it, to get on the podium. We made it this time now we need to do it more. It was a lot harder than I thought. I’m cramping up all over. I’ve got to get hydrated because it was a tough race and my thumbs are bleeding, but the car is good though so I’ll drive it like that anytime. We were able to prove that we had a good car and this car has been good all weekend. It’s just sweet. We’ve been through a lot this year, especially coming off of Indy. That was such a punch in the gut. We had a great car there too. We’re always having to fight from the back. We’re only making things difficult on ourselves. But it’s just small things, small gremlins every time. I’m still a rookie at this so there’s a lot for me to learn, but gosh, the guys on the stand called a beautiful race. (On decision not to take tires at the end) Thanks Firestone. Yeah, it was great. The tires lasted all the way to the end. So, it was amazing because they kept getting better. It was really awesome and just gave us a shot to fight for the top three.”

Gabby Chaves: “It was a pretty interesting race. We were enjoying our time out there and improving every session, every lap and finding speed. We had a good strategy with the team and it was a great team effort, so I’m really happy with that. We’re just going to keep working hard to be where we know we can be.”

Spencer Pigot: “It was a tough race. Starting in the back never makes things easy, but we tried to improve throughout the race and I think that we did that. The guys were good in the pits and it was unfortunate that a couple of things happened set us back. We’ll try and come back even better for tomorrow.”

Josef Newgarden: “It was not a fun day. We could have had a better finish there with the Fuzzy’s Vodka Preferred Freezer Services car. We ran into some trouble there towards the end during the fuel saving component of the race. We probably could have gotten a top five, we just had to nurse the car home. We got it across the line, which was priority number one. We still got some points, we just weren’t as high up as we could have been so we’ll come back tomorrow and try again.”

Simon Pagenaud: “The Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet was strong today. We were running strong all day in the front, but it ended up being a fuel strategy race after we got caught up during the first yellow when we were in the lead. From then on, strategy was difficult. We needed a load of fuel to make it at the end, but unfortunately there wasn’t much we could have done. If we came in, it probably would have been the same. The crew did a fantastic job. It just didn’t work out for us.”

Carlos Munoz: “Again another race where strategies and cautions played a big factor. The Magneti Marelli car was fast out there. The risk we took to stay out longer didn’t work a lot and in the end, I had to save a lot of fuel. The good thing is the fuel number I had to reach was so high, I am happy I could hit that number while being fast. But, we finished sixth after a gamble and are climbing in the championship points, which I am happy about.”

Marco Andretti: “Not a great result for us today. I battled with the back end of the car all day and wasn’t able to save fuel like we needed to. Without being able to make the mileage, we just got crushed. But, we get to do it all over again tomorrow, so we’ll take a look at the UFD / Vernors car tonight and come back fighting again for Race 2.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay: “Our strategy was all over the place today – just one of those Detroit races, you never know what’s going to be the right call. You just have to go with it and stick to it. We spent half the race saving fuel in the DHL car, trying to make a certain strategy work. Then we found out our fuel numbers were wrong, we maybe didn’t need to save that much fuel. Unfortunate, because we finished seventh while saving fuel and possibly could have challenged for a bit higher.”

Charlie Kimball: “What a day. It’s hard to really describe the day because so much went on. We tried a bunch of strategies. The No. 83 guys on the stand were awesome – just trying to do something to get us in the best track position. I was racing guys hard and honestly the No. 83 Tresiba® Chevrolet was better than eighth. It just didn’t quite work out on strategy. Between the rain drops, the way the yellows fell, and who we were racing we got a little bit caught up there. It was a tough day. Anytime you’re racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series with such tight competition it’s not going to be easy, especially at such a physical track like this one. A big thanks to the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team and really all of Chip Ganassi Racing – I know they’ll be here late tonight getting the cars ready.”

Alexander Rossi:
 “Starting 17th on any street track is going to be tough. We did a decent job maximizing our potential – I believe we could’ve gained a couple more positions though. I think generally it was an OK result. It is very important we qualify the NAPA AUTO PARTS / Curb Honda higher on the grid tomorrow so we have a better ability to prove we have a great race car.”

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