Like yesterday, the qualifying format for Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix was to divide the 22-car field into two groups of eleven and give them 12 minutes each to post their fastest lap around the Belle Isle street circuit. The group assignments were the same as they were yesterday, but the order was switched. Drivers that were in Group 2 yesterday, ran first in Group 1 today. This is a unique format made requisite by the double-header weekend and the tight on-track schedule as the Verizon IndyCar Series shares the weekend with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Group 1 started with a moist track as light sprinkles and showers moved through the Detroit area early in the morning. It was expected that by the second half of the 12-minute session that the track would be back to a fully dry and grippy condition. Unfortunately, they never got the chance to run the full length of the session as AJ Foyt Racing’s Carlos Munoz had a mechanical failure in Turn 2 which caused his No. 14 Chevrolet/Dallara to push straight into the outside wall, striking hard enough to move and fracture the concrete barrier. The session was red flagged as the Homoltro Safety Crew saw to Munoz, who was unharmed, and repair the barrier as best they could.
The result was that the session, during which the racers were guaranteed at least five minutes of green flag running, was restarted with a minute and a half remaining. This was just enough time for a warm-up outlap and a singular hot lap to try an grab the pole. Not surprisingly, none of the times were truly stellar, falling more than a second behind yesterday’s pole time. Alexander Rossi, who was fast yesterday, tried a bit too hard carrying far too much speed into Turn 13 and running slideways into the wall while fully cranking on the steering wheel. Fellow Andretti Autosport teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay posted the fastest time of the session with a lap time of 1:15.2833.
Group 2 (Group 1 from yesterday) saw a full twelve minutes of green-flag running, and the lap times showed the benefit of an uninterrupted session. The advantage was so strong, in fact, that no driver from Group 1 will start in the top 10 for Race 2 this afternoon. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was fastest in Group 1, will start in 11th. Will Power was initially fast and was the first into the 1:13 range, but on-track errors and an eventual spin would prohibit the Team Penske driver from improving his time. Yesterday’s Pole Sitter and track record holder Graham Rahal would spend the dwindling moments of the session swapping one record-setting lap after another with the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato. When the checkered flag finally flew and all drivers completed their last laps, it was Andretti Autosport and Takuma Sato that stood atop the time sheets with a qualifying time of 1:13.6732.
Once again, Honda dominated the morning securing seven of the top ten spots and locking out the front row. Chevrolet’s primary team, Team Penske, had a slightly better overall qualifying result today than yesterday, although their best position was a bit lower. Will Power will start from Row 2 in P4, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden will start in P6 and P7, respectively. Castroneves, who started on the front row yesterday, will start this afternoon from P12. The highest non-Penske Chevrolet was Spencer Pigot driving the No. 20 for Ed Carpenter Racing. Yesterday, none of the Honda-powered machines suffered the mechanical frailties seen at Indianapolis and Long Beach, but today is a new day, and this is the second race of the weekend which will always take a toll on both driver and machine. Race 2 starts at 3:30pm EDT and will be broadcast domestically on ABC. Rain may play a factor today, which will add an exciting amount of chaos. For those without access to the ABC broadcast, you can listen to IMS Radio follow live timing & scoring at http://racecontrol.indycar.com/.
Starting positions for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 2
|Rank||Driver||Car No.||Best Time||Best Speed|
|22||Carlos Munoz||14||No Time||0|