BELLE ISLE, Mich- The Verizon IndyCar Series took to the 2.35-mile Belle Isle street circuit very early this morning as they qualified for today’s 70 Lap first duel. They changed the schedule from last year as the original idea was confusing. In 2013, they qualified for Race No. 1 on Friday then race No. 2 on Saturday morning. Fans were a bit confused to see them qualify but not start that way in the race later on in the day.
So, they’re now setting the field on the day of the race.
In qualifying today, Helio Castroneves dominated as he won his 39th career IndyCar pole award with a time of 1:17.5362-seconds in the No. 3 Dallara/Chevrolet. The Brazilian, has been very fast since they unloaded yesterday as he was 3rd quickest in both practice sessions on Friday.
He backed that up with being very fast in the three round qualifying format as he set the quickest time of the weekend in the Firestone Fast Six session.
James Hinchcliffe who started second in last week’s Indianapolis 500 will start there again as he turned a lap of 1:17.9788-seconds in his No. 27 UFD Dallara/Honda. He is hoping to do much better this weekend as he has finishes of 21st, 15th and 19th here at Belle Isle in three career starts. Being up front in the 70 Lap race should keep him ahead of any trouble.
Rookie Jack Hawksworth made his third Fast Six session of the season will roll off third while last year’s first duel winner Mike Conway will start alongside in fourth.
Ryan Briscoe and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top six in this morning’s qualifying session.
For Castroneves, he has a very good chance to make up a ton of ground in the championship. He’s currently 54-points back in third but was the only driver in the top five to advance past round one.
Heavyweights like Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay will start 16th, 17th and 21st respectively.
Power, just didn’t have the right setup while Pagenaud was penalized for blocking. The team tried to appeal as it was on the first lap of the session but IndyCar didn’t care. He won the second duel last year and set the quickest lap of the day yesterday, but will have to move his way through the field on a narrow street course later this afternoon.
For last week’s Indy 500 winner, Hunter-Reay got into the wall on his second lap and never was able to make another attempt. It’s been a bad weekend for the American as he had a brake fire issue and electrical malfunction in the second practice yesterday. Then this morning, he gets into the wall.
Nevertheless, some big names like those three, Justin Wilson and Marco Andretti will have to come through the back of the pack today which should provide great racing.
Coverage begins at 3:30 pm ET on ABC today.
Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race No. 1 Starting Lineup:
Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report covering Racing. He’s covered both IndyCar and NASCAR action since 2009 and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by both the IndyCar Series and all three divisions of NASCAR racing.
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