It is a sweet, sweet weekend for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team with Graham Rahal taking his second win of the weekend today at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.
There was certainly some magic happening on Rahal’s car as yesterday’s race winner started third in Race #2 on Belle Isle–and earnestly worked his way up to the first position. And it wasn’t an easy feat.
Pole winner for the second race, Andretti Autosport’s, and Indy 500 Champion Takuma Sato had a steady lead for the first 22 laps of the race before pit strategy and some speed made a difference.
Rahal came ahead and would only lose his lead twice to Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden after pitting, only to quickly regain his lead.
Newgarden, who started 13th on the grid made considerable progress to land himself second and closing his gap from over 15 seconds behind Rahal to 5.5 seconds before a full-course yellow caution that turned to red pitted the field with only 3 laps to go.
The caution was brought on by two stopped cars on the track on the 5th to last lap of the race. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe’s car had come to a stop due to mechanical failure. And Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot’s car, having also suffered mechanical failure, had begun to belch smoke in the most impressive cloud and came to a stop on the track.
Although Pigot had mentioned the car had just lost power sometime after turn 2, it was noticeable that he was struggling with power. Whether that had anything to do with the mechanical failure is unsure. But otherwise unfortunate for the Carpenter team.
Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones also suffered mechanical failure toward the end of the race, but was able to pull off into a run-off area that prevented field from having to go to yellow.
The red flag set the field up for what could have been an interesting three-lap shoot-out. But the long delay appeared to have caused enough cooling of the tires, along with a one-lap safety car restart that there wasn’t really much action after the field was given the green.
Rahal took the win with Newgarden not far behind, and teammate Will Power made up the third podium spot.
A.J. Foyt Racing’s Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly made up for their crap luck earlier this weekend. After Daly’s engine failure yesterday, he started 10th and finished 12th–his highest placing of the season. Munoz after his incident in qualifying landed him with a disqualified time and starting last today worked his way up to finish 11th.
Jones may not have finished the race, but his rookie teammate, Esteban Gutierrez had an impressive finish for his first race weekend with an IndyCar, finishing 14th overall. It still hasn’t been decided what Gutierrez’s future will be with the Coyne team, but this weekend was a fairly good one considering the former F1 drivers lack of time to prepare and adjust to the car and format for the weekend.
Rahal’s double-win weekend took the driver up from 17th to sixth in the championship points, behind Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon, Penske’s Helio Castroneves, Sato, Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and Newgarden. He also managed a first time winning both Dual races in one weekend in Detroit since the format was introduced.
Race results for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Race 2:
1. Graham Rahal (Rahal-Letterman)
2. Josef Newgarden (Penske)
3. Will Power (Penske)
4. Takuma Sato (Andretti)
5. Simon Pagenaud (Penske)
6. Scott Dixon (Ganassi)
7. Alexander Rossi (Andretti-Herta)
8. Charlie Kimball (Ganassi)
9. Helio Castroneves (Penske)
10. Tony Kanaan (Ganassi)
11. Carlos Munoz (Foyt)
12. Conor Daly (Foyt)
13. Marco Andretti (Andretti)
14. Esteban Gutierrez (Coyne) (R)
15. Max Chilton (Ganassi)
16. Mikhail Aleshin (SPM)
17. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti)
18. J.R. Hildebrand (ECR)
19. Oriol Servia (Rahal-Letterman)
20. James Hinchcliffe (SPM)
21. Spencer Pigot (ECR)
22. Ed Jones (Coyne) (R)