Palou wins incident-packed Detroit race to extend IndyCar points lead


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Alex Palou publicly aired his misgivings about the new Detroit Renaissance Centre street circuit but came away from the Detroit Grand Prix weekend with a massive victory in his bid to win a second IndyCar championship.

The Ganassi driver won Sunday’s Detroit Grand Prix from pole position, facing just one major threat to his chances of victory along the way.

He drove away from the field early on, then hung on to the lead after several rolling restarts which a series of incidents during what could best be described as an eventful return for street racing to downtown Detroit for the first time since 1991.

Winning from pole and leading 74 out of 100 laps meant Palou extended his lead in the IndyCar standings to 51 points ahead of Marcus Ericsson.

Palou’s only real challenge came in the form of Will Power. The last winner around the streets of Belle Isle, Power charged from seventh on the grid up to second early on, cutting past multiple cars along the way.

A decisive restart with less than 10 laps remaining saw Power and Scott Dixon clash wheels with just nine laps to go. Alexander Rossi drove past them both – and team mate Felix Rosenqvist – to move his way back into second. But Rosenqvist soon found himself battling with Rossi and swapping positions multiple times in the last few laps.

Power barged past Dixon and then got past Rossi to retake second position while Rosenqvist nudged Rossi into the wall to secure the final podium place. Dixon recovered to fourth, Rossi fifth.

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Kyle Kirkwood’s recovery to finish sixth was nothing short of miraculous after the start of the race he endured. Just one corner in after a delayed rolling start, Kirkwood’s car was used as a ramp as Callum Ilott rammed him from behind. Ilott retired from the race, while Kirkwood managed to pit for a replacement rear wing without dropping off the lead lap.

Scott McLaughlin dropped back from the front row during the race but was able to salvage seventh. Marcus Armstrong finished as the top rookie in eighth, while Ericsson finished ninth and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden completed the top ten.

Colton Herta somehow held onto 11th after damaging his front wing in a skirmish with Agustin Canapino. The damage worsened but Herta managed to avoid slamming the wall as several others had done before.

Pato O’Ward’s championship chances took a severe hit with his second consecutive retirement. In a desperate bid to get past Santino Ferrucci, O’Ward instead made contact with his rival which sent the McLaren into the wall.

Just a few laps later, Graham Rahal hit the wall at the first corner and his crashed car was collected by Benjamin Pedersen. While the rookie continued, Rahal’s race was done. All this happened while the yellow flag was coming out for Sting Ray Robb’s stranded car.

Romain Grosjean could have picked up a top five finish but with 20 laps to go, he suffered a suspension failure and crashed at turn four on his own – a fourth retirement this year for the driver of the number 28 Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda.

David Malukas hit the wall on the way to the green flag for the ensuing restart, which put the yellow flags back out again. With eight laps to go, a clash between Ferrucci and Robb sent both cars off.

In total there were seven full-course cautions over a total of 32 laps. That may have been in line with the amount of carnage that was expected for the first IndyCar race around a tough street circuit which also proved to be brutal on the softer-compound ‘option’ tyres and offered minimal room for error – but straddled the line between being a challenge and being a farce.

IndyCar returns to a permanent road course in two weeks’ time for the Grand Prix of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

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Detroit Grand Prix results

Pos. No. Driver Team Engine
1 10 Alex Palou Ganassi Honda
2 12 Will Power Penske Chevrolet
3 6 Felix Rosenqvist McLaren Chevrolet
4 9 Scott Dixon Ganassi Honda
5 7 Alexander Rossi McLaren Chevrolet
6 27 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Honda
7 3 Scott McLaughlin Penske Chevrolet
8 11 Marcus Armstrong Ganassi Honda
9 8 Marcus Ericsson Ganassi Honda
10 2 Josef Newgarden Penske Chevrolet
11 26 Colton Herta Andretti Honda
12 29 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Honda
13 60 Simon Pagenaud Meyer Shank Honda
14 78 Agustin Canapino Juncos Hollinger Chevrolet
15 20 Conor Daly Carpenter Chevrolet
16 45 Christian Lundgaard RLL Honda
17 30 Jack Harvey RLL Honda
18 21 Rinus VeeKay Carpenter Chevrolet
19 06 Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank Honda
20 55 Benjamin Pedersen Foyt Chevrolet
21 14 Santino Ferrucci Foyt Chevrolet
22 51 Sting Ray Robb Coyne/RWR Honda
23 18 David Malukas Coyne/HMD Honda

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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13 comments on “Palou wins incident-packed Detroit race to extend IndyCar points lead”

  1. God, I like Indycar, but the final laps of the indy 500 this year and Detroit have been unbearable

  2. Looked fun on the highlights, with all the neutralisations cut out.

    Indycar once again showing that racing is more fun when everyone gets some space; side by side, switchbacks, and some nice overtakes! Good stuff from Power, Palou, Dixon, Rossi and Rosenqvist at the front!

  3. some racing fan
    5th June 2023, 0:57

    To be honest, this new Detroit track, which uses parts of the original F1/CART street circuit in the 80s and early 90s is absolute rubbish. Every bit as bad as I thiught it was going to be. It’s apparently some kind of marketing exercise to advertise Detroit, and IndyCar but it will be a failure. They need to go back to Belle Isle.

    1. Did you watch the race? It was terrific! The reason they’re not racing at Belle Isle is a group called the Belle Isle Conservation Group ended racing there, complaining the race was destroying the island.

      1. I tuned-in not expecting much, especially after seeing drawings of the layout. However, I found it quite entertaining and with fewer crashes than I thought there would be. Really quite a bit of fun.

    2. Belle Isle is much prettier but the racing yesterday was great compared to previous Detroit GPs!

  4. This was such a fun race, specially coming from the F1 snorefest. Sure the track was horrible but these guys made a race out of it, that Rossi rosenqvist scrap at the end was superb, and the whole foeld were overtaking each other pretty much everywhere…

    1. Spot on. The cautions were always gonna come due to the tightness of the track, but the actual racing was very entertaining. The turn 3 hairpin allowing for the over and under was enjoyable. Really enjoyed the McLaren’s fighting without any team intervention.

      Interesting to hear the Grosjean was suspension damage, however I do wonder if the root cause of this damage was his ding dong with McLoughlin when he rejoined from his last pit stop?

    2. 100%. I saw a bit of practice earlier in the week and thought “ugh, this place is grey and horrible”. But, once the race got going it was way better than anything I’ve ever seen at Belle Isle.

  5. Despite the terrible track (although the long straight was nice), the race was great!

    It was sad to see O’Ward’s race and championship hopes ruined. He had been fighting for the win in both of the last 2 races, but not going all out would most likely have served him better in each case.

  6. There was some good racing but that doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the worst tracks i’ve ever seen Indycar race on & there’s been some real bad one’s over the years.

    It’s just your average soul-less, characterless 90 degree fest US style street circuit like many others that have come & gone over the years. There’s nothing that makes it stand out & like all those other similar circuits it will probably stay a few years, Get dropped & then be never thought of again outside of the people sometimes bringing up how awful a circuit it was.

    There are so many other circuits in the US that Indycar could be racing on which have a history with the series & that covers road circuits, Temporary circuits & ovals. Yet instead we have an awful track like this and then some circuits featuring 2 races (Iowa & the Indy road circuit) just to try & pad the calender.

    1. There is nothing like the diversity of IndyCar. Next Road America, widely considered one of the best road courses on earth. But, the racing won’t be as good as Detroit. The formula of a short street course with the cars bunched up makes for great racing! I bet IndyCar could put on a good show even at Monaco.

      1. Indycar at Monaco with the usual fuel strategy would be bloody nice. I have no doubt Indycar would put on a good show. Best OW racing currently available and i wholeheartedly agree; Indycar is best when it gets down and dirty on a street track.

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