After the thrilling 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500, the NTT IndyCar Series resumed their season in Detroit with the second of two doubleheaders in 2021. Saturday saw the first of two races this weekend at Detroit’s Belle Isle.
It was a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon at the Motor City, causing cars to slip and slide all over the track.
Josef Newgarden made contact with the wall after his car got loose during a battle with Colton Herta on lap five. Also, Scott McLaughlin made contact with the wall halfway through the race. Newgarden recovered to finish 10th.
Felix Rosenqvist suffered a scary crash on lap 27 after his throttle got stuck, causing him to run straight into the wall and cause severe damage to the wall and his Arrow McLaren car. The race was stopped due to a red flag for over an hour.
The red flag caused a major shakeup in the leaderboard. Patricio O’Ward and Alexander Rossi started on the front row. They pitted to start the race to go on a three-stop strategy.
Nearly every driver pitted when the red flag was lifted, meaning drivers would lose less ground during pit stops under caution. This means that drivers who pitted early in the race were at a disadvantage with the red flag and drivers who stayed out for over 20 laps to start the race gained track position.
Will Power and Marcus Ericsson restarted out in the front row and ran 1-2. Power was holding off Ericsson when Romain Grosjean crashed with six laps to go, bringing out another red flag.
Tragedy struck for Power as when engines refired after the red flag, his car lost power. He was forced to return to the race at the back of the pack after leading the field for the second half of the race.
Ericsson, who raced in over 100 Formula 1 grand prix, held off youngsters Rinus VeeKay and O’Ward to pick up his first-career win in IndyCar. It is the third win of the season for Chip Ganassi Racing.
VeeKay picked up his second top-five finish of the season and O’Ward picked up his fifth.
O’Ward moves up to second in the driver’s championship after Scott Dixon finished eighth. Alex Palou holds his lead in the standings despite a 15th-place finish.
Takuma Sato finished fourth for his first top-five finish in 2021.
Graham Rahal rounds out the top five with his fourth top-five finish of the season.
Santino Ferrucci picked up his second top-10 finish of the season with a sixth-place finish.
Rossi worked his way through the pack to finish seventh after his pit strategy backfired due to the first red flag.
Ed Jones finished ninth for his first top-10 finish of the 2021 season.
After a grueling race where many drivers suffered dehydration, blisters and exhaustion due to heat, the drivers must return to the track tomorrow for qualifying and the second Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. That race will begin at noon EST.