It was a bizarre day today here in Detroit. Scott Dixon earned his 28th career IZOD IndyCar Series victory in leading all 60 laps and jumped up to second in the points standings heading to Texas Saturday night, but that will be an afterthought in the wake of the events that transpired in the Motor City today.
After 45 laps the race was red flagged due to the racing surface breaking up into chunks in seven of the 14 corners at the 2.07-mile street circuit. Drivers starting noticing the detorioration of the track surface, but we really didn't pay attention to it until James Hinchcliffe hit one of the holes in Turn 7 and went head on into the tire barriers. That dropped him out of the top 10 and forced him to leave with a 20th place finish.
On that same lap, Takuma Sato went too low entering a corner and lost control of his No. 15 Honda and ended up in the wall. He left with a 21st place finish.
The officials decided they needed to inspect the track and when they did they noticed a considerable amount of damage to the racing surface. It was so bad they contemplated calling the race, but with a great effort by track officials and IndyCar staff, the race would end up going back green at 6:45 ET after a nearly two hour long red flag period.
Officials decided with darkness and rain coming that they would shorten the race by 30 laps and run a total of 60 laps instead of the scheduled 90. That meant we would see a 15-lap shootout for the finish. I give kudos to the track officials for getting the track fixed and giving the sold-out crowd an exciting finish to the race instead of leaving unhappy.
When the race restarted, rain started to fall in the Belle Isle area and threw a wrech into everyone's plans. On the restart Helio Castroneves lost control of his No. 3 Chevy and spun exiting Turn 5. Ed Carpenter lost control in the same turn and took out Castroneves' front wing. On the same lap, Josef Newgarden and Ryan Briscoe also spun due to the wet surface and a full course caution was issued.
On the next restart, E.J. Viso was punted by Marco Andretti in Turn 5 and the young Venezuelan couldn't get his No. 5 Citgo Chevy refired. That brought out another full course caution.
On the next restart, Dixon got a great start, beat his teammate Dario Franchitti to the first turn and the rest was history. Franchitti came from the 14th starting position to finish second and give Ganassi its first back-to-back 1-2 finishes in team history.
With the runner-up finish, Franchitti moved up to fourth in the points and is now 56 points out of the lead heading to Texas. He's been the biggest mover in the standings over the last three races.
Rookie Simon Pagenaud brought home his No. 77 HP Honda in third and gave Honda its first podium sweep of the season.
Points leader Will Power wound up fourth on a rough day for Team Penske. Power saw his points lead drop big time and the other two drivers in the Penske stable, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves, would finish 16th and 17th respectively.
Oriol Servia once again came from the back and improved 12 positions to finish fifth today. With his top five finish, Servia joined the top 10 in the standings and is carrying the banner for Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. This was Servia's second straight top five finish.
Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Charlie Kimball, Mike Conway, and Alex Tagliani rounded out the top 10.
One driver who would have been in the top 10 was Graham Rahal who ran there all day and would have restarted seventh, but had an electrical problem and his car wouldn't restart. By the time Rahal's team finally got his No. 38 Service Central fired up, he had already lost two laps and would finish a disappointing 19th.
Rahal wasn't the only one with electrical problems. Alex Tagliani had the same problem when the race started as his car had a bad electrical problem with the command to start engines. He had to pit to get the issue fixed on the pace laps and was forced to start the race last instead of his third position he qualified in. Tags went on to have a great drive through the field and ended up finishing 10th.
In the media center today, it was announced that the track layout may be changed back to the old one that CART ran in the 90s, a 2.3-mile circuit with more passing zones. I think that would improve the racing product tremendously and that they also need to repave this track so we don't see these issues anymore. This race had a ton of momentum as it was sold out. Today was a red flag for the series, but officials did everything they could to put on a good show and ensure we saw a finish.
The series returns to action next Saturday night at 8 PM on NBC Sports Network at Texas Motor Speedway. This will be the first of three straight ovals as the points should certainly change up with leader Will Power struggling on ovals.
1. 9 Scott Dixon
2. 10 Dario Franchitti
3. 77 Simon Pagenaud (R)
4. 12 Will Power
5. 22 Oriol Servia
6. 11 Tony Kanaan
7. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay
8. 83 Charlie Kimball
9. 14 Mike Conway
10. 98 Alex Tagliani
11. 26 Marco Andretti
12. 4 J.R. Hildebrand
13. 20 Ed Carpenter
14. 78 Simona de Silvestro
15. 67 Josef Newgarden (R) -1
16. 2 Ryan Briscoe -1
17. 3 Helio Castroneves -1
18. 5 E.J. Viso -1
19. 38 Graham Rahal -2
20. 27 James Hinchcliffe OUT
21. 15 Takuma Sato OUT
22. 18 Justin Wilson OUT
23. 19 James Jakes OUT
24. 7 Sebastien Bourdais OUT
25. 8 Rubens Barrichello (R) OUT
Points Standings After 6 Races
1. Will Power 232
2. Scott Dixon -26
3. Helio Castroneves -55
4. Dario Franchitti -56
5. James Hinchcliffe -56
6. Simon Pagenaud R -61
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay -63
8. Ryan Briscoe -90
9. Tony Kanaan -91
10. Oriol Servia -113
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