Graham Rahal sets up for Turn 12 during practice for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix -- Photo by: Bret Kelley, INDYCAR

With so many series on track this weekend, and the Verizon IndyCar Series running a double-header, qualifying reverts to the old-school method of setting a singular fast lap in a timed session. To ease track congestion, though, the 22-car field was separated into two groups with each group given twelve minutes to do their fastest.

Group 1 included Tony Kanaan, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, Spencer Pigot, Ed Jones, Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, and former Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez who is in the Dale Coyne Racing No. 18 for the remainder of the season, or at least until Sebastien Bourdais is able to return to racing. Most everyone started out on blacks, but by the end, about half of the drivers were on sticker reds. Pigot continues to struggle in his Ed Carpenter Racing No. 20 machine and tapped the outside wall on the exit of Turn 4 hard enough to end his qualifying session. Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato, who posted the two fastest times in the session, were on reds with Rahal set a new qualifying record for Belle Isle with a lap time of 1:13.9681.

The rest of the field were in Group 2 and included Helio Castroneves, Alexander Rossi, Mikhail Aleshin, J.R. Hildebrand, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Oriol Servia, Conor Daly, Max Chilton, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball, and Carlos Munoz. Everyone except Servia started out on scuffed blacks, but they all finished the session on sticker reds. Rossi had the fastest time of the session for a time in spite of brushing the wall on the exit of Turn 6. It was light contact and he was able to continue, but ran out of time to improve his position. Helio Castroneves set a blistering lap of 1:13.8901, resetting the qualifying record and taking the Pole from Rahal. …for a moment.

Castroneves had already placed the P1 award sticker on the rear wing of his No. 3 Team Penske racer and was celebrating in front of the assembled photographers when IndyCar officials informed him that Race Control was deliberating on rescinding his fastest lap as a penalty for not slowing through a local yellow. After a couple of tense minutes, the official word came down that his record-setting lap would be discounted, giving the pole position and the official track record to Graham Rahal. Helio and the rest of Team Penske were livid, although none of them would speak immediately to IMS Radio.

Rahal’s pole-setting pace comes as no surprise as he was fastest in Practice 1 and second fasted behind Castroneves in Practice 2. Although not starting in P1, Helio will still start on the front row, and with the Red Mist still strong in the Brazilian’s eyes, Turn 1 this afternoon will be exciting to watch. Race 1 is this afternoon on ABC here in the US at 3:30pm EDT.

Starting Grid for Race 1 for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix

Pos Driver Car No. Lap Time
1 Graham Rahal 15 01:13.9681
2 Helio Castroneves 3 01:14.0414
3 Takuma Sato 26 01:14.0428
4 Alexander Rossi 98 01:14.0875
5 James Hinchcliffe 5 01:14.1801
6 Scott Dixon 9 01:14.2855
7 Simon Pagenaud 1 01:14.3150
8 Josef Newgarden 2 01:14.3805
9 Will Power 12 01:14.6312
10 Marco Andretti 27 01:14.6719
11 Max Chilton 8 01:14.9991
12 Charlie Kimball 83 01:15.0664
13 Ryan Hunter-Reay 28 01:15.0991
14 Carlos Munoz 14 01:15.2060
15 Conor Daly 4 01:15.2228
16 JR Hildebrand 21 01:15.2334
17 Mikhail Aleshin 7 01:15.2430
18 Tony Kanaan 10 01:15.2668
19 Oriol Servia 16 01:15.2758
20 Spencer Pigot 20 01:15.6261
21 Esteban Gutierrez 18 01:15.6276
22 Ed Jones 19 01:15.8343

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Gutierrez stinks

J. Doug Patterson
J. Doug Patterson

He didn’t exactly cover himself with glory during the race, either. To be fair, though, it’s his first time in the car with zero testing at a track he’s never driven. …still, though.


There was a part where he was overtaken by about four or five cars in two corners. He reportedly said he still had a lot of fun.


Did Helio blow the yellow flag section on his fastest lap or was it a prior lap?