• Last-lap move for a podium finish comes up short
• Honda drivers lock out front row in qualifying
In a race that in many ways resembled Saturday’s “Dual 1” opening race of the Detroit Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series doubleheader, poorly-timed caution flags and varying pit strategies left many Honda-powered contenders unable to challenge for victory in Sunday’s second race, despite an all-Honda front row in qualifying and a late-lap charge from James Hinchcliffe.
As in yesterday’s race, early yellows from on-track incidents sent many in the field to the pits as early as Lap 3, once again leading to a continuously shifting race order throughout the 70-lap contest. At the end of the day, those on a “three-stop strategy” and pitting for the first time on Lap 11 had the advantage, led by Helio Castroneves, as the Team Penske driver scored his first win of 2014.
Of the Honda-powered contingent, pole qualifier Takuma Sato’s A.J. Foyt team chose the right strategy, but Sato’s chances for victory evaporated when he was hit and spun on Lap 35 by Ryan Briscoe; and further contact from Marco Andretti in the closing laps resulted in an unrepresentative 18th-place finish.
For the second day in a row, Hinchcliffe started on the outside of the front row, second, but his team’s “two stop” strategy was nullified by the timing of the race’s four cautions. On the final lap, an attempt to pass Charlie Kimball for the third and final step on the podium came up short, and Hinchcliffe slipped to fifth behind Scott Dixon.
On a similar pit stop strategy, Honda-powered Schmidt Peterson Motorsport teammates Simon Pagenaud took the checkers in sixth, while his rookie teammate, Mikhail Aleshin, finished seventh.
Heidi Cross, of Indianapolis, Indiana, led the field prior to today’s race start in the two-seat Honda Indy car driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk.
With the completion of the Dual in Detroit, the first of three doubleheader race weekends in 2014, the Verizon IndyCar Series now heads to the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s Firestone 550, June 7, with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.
James Hinchcliffe (#27 United Fiber & Data Andretti Autosport Honda) started 2nd, finished 5th: "We were battling for third down the back straight [on the final lap], and [Charlie] Kimball made his car wide; that’s all there was to it. I had to go to the outside. I had gone to the inside, but he didn’t like that, so I went to the outside. He did a good job out-braking me, and I had to lift a bit on the exit there, and [Scott] Dixon got us. Fourth or fifth, it doesn’t really matter - we’re racing for podiums, we’re racing for wins. It was a confusing race with all the different strategies at play, but again, the car was really fast. The guys were awesome in the pits. Considering how my past races in Detroit have gone, this is hell of a good weekend — two front-row starts and two top six finishes [both career bests for Hinchcliffe in Detroit]…we’ll take it.”
Mark Crawford (IndyCar Project Leader, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “In several respects, today’s race was a repeat of Saturday, with multiple pit stop strategies. Unfortunately, most of our strongest performers ended up with unrepresentative results when the yellows came at just the wrong moments for them. I believe qualifying was a more accurate indicator of our performance, and it was nice to see an all-Honda front row with Takuma Sato taking his first pole of the season and James Hinchcliffe once again qualifying second. But now, we need to focus on the race in Texas next week and work hard to get back on top.”