The other events this year that will feature double-header races are the Honda Indy Toronto (July 13/14) and the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston (October 5/6).
Dario Franchitti set the pace in the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session for Saturday’s first race. The Scott, driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, set a lap of 1 minute, 19.3311 seconds on the 2.346-mile, 13-turn street circuit during the 10-minute shootout. He’ll receive the championship point and cash prize for earning the Verizon P1 pole award, but will have to start 11th for Saturday’s 70-lap race because of a 10-place grid penalty, the result of an unapproved engine change from last weekend’s Indy 500 race.
E.J. Viso claimed second with a 1:19.5572 for Andretti Autosport to tie his series-best qualifying effort in Brazil in May. Mike Conway qualified third for Dale Coyne Racing.
James Jakes lines-up fourth (his previous highest qualifying result was 8th at Motegi in 2011) for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, while reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will start 5th also for Andretti Autosport. Alex Tagliani, who led the morning practice session, starts a season-high sixth for Barracuda Racing.
Also facing 10-place grid penalties for Race 1 are Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal also due to unapproved engine changes at Indianapolis.
Qualifying for Sunday’s race will be held six hours before the start of Race 1. All cars will participate in one of two groups for 12 minutes each, with five minutes of guaranteed green-flag time.
If a driver should win both races this weekend, he or she will receive a $50,000 bonus care of IndyCar partner sponsor Sonax. If no one wins both races in Detroit, the prize fund will carry over to Toronto in mid-July ($100,000 bonus). If no one wins both of those races, the Houston doubleheader in early October will then be worth an additional $150,000.
Qualifying results for race 1, Saturday, June 1st can be seen here:
Video highlights from Friday’s Firestone Fast 6 qualifying session can be seen here:
Saturday will see Sebastien Bourdais make his 100thIndyCar start of his career. The four-time former Champ Car champion has 31 wins and 31 poles on his CV to date. The French star said he wasn’t aware of the milestone weekend as he and his Dragon Racing team is focused on trying to improve their Chevrolet powered car.
“Well, obviously, a 100th start doesn’t make you any younger, does it? I haven’t been thinking too much about it but last week I got a call and they were like, “Do you realize it is your 100th start?” And I was like, “Oh no, not really.” But obviously I am just very fortunate to be around and try to get to run a lot.
I’m still enjoying it as much as I used to enjoy it. I am hoping to kind of turn things around this weekend. It obviously hasn’t been the start [to the season] that we were hoping for in 2013 but still a long way to go. I don’t like to look back so much, just need to keep things in the past and just got to look ahead and try to get on the right foot again.”
Regarding his approach to this weekend, the Frenchman said he wasn’t thinking of possible race results as there is much work to do to improve his car to where he feels it should be
“I’m not focused on the race as much as I am focused on getting the car right. I know if we get the car right we will have no reservations behind us at all. Mentally all that matters to us right now is to get the car figured out. “I’m not a wizard. I need the car under me, and so far we just haven’t been able to do that. Somehow I am optimistic because I don’t think the car has been far off it’s just the density for the field right now.”
Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America will drive the 2014 Corvette Stingray Pace Car this weekend. Chevrolet are dual title sponsors for the Detroit Grand Prix and will be hoping for one of their teams to win in their own backyard after Honda won the race last year.
“The all-new, 2014 Corvette Stingray proved last week at Indy that it’s at home on the racetrack, and we’re excited to bring it home to Motown to pace the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit,” said Reuss. “To be able to drive this car, on this track, in this city, is a huge thrill for me personally, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel to pace this great field.”
Select Saturday pre-race quotes.
TRISTAN VAUTIER: “I think if someone had told us we would qualify seventh after our poor practice session where we didn’t manage to run more than two laps in a row we wouldn’t have believed them.
The thing is that Helio (Castroneves) was behind me when he spun, so I was the last car not affected by the incident. They let other drivers complete their laps but did not let us complete the lap. We had potential to be in the Firestone Fast 6, but sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t. We turned things around well for qualifying after our bad practice session so we’re happy about that. We’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it. With the rain, and the drying track. It keeps you nervous, it keeps you on your toes. You are always searching on every lap for that tenth of a second. Which is a lot of fun in these cars. So that was cool.”
I just don’t know where the speed went that last round because in the Top 12 we were 80.2 and then we only went two tenths quicker in the Fast Six. So we got to look at that. A little disappointed with it, but we are in the Fast Six. We are starting up front. So we should be able to go and have a good day. Unfortunately Mike Conway is here crashing the Fast Six party again. You can never count him out.”
E.J. VISO: “Very excited. It will be my first pole in IndyCar. I’ve been in pole in other car races, but being in pole in IndyCar is definitely one of my targets, my aims that I wanted to accomplish. And little by little working with this group things are starting to come together. I am very proud of all this hard work that we have been doing as a team, as a crew. I am very excited about this year.”
(About beingat the front for a street race):“It is good. I think it has given me some good chances to stay in the front and be sure I’m going to have a competitive car. We have proven that so far. And I’m really looking forward to it.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI:“Thank you to the Target boys because I bent the car up this morning and they did a great job getting the car ready again and I just hung on to it. I think I was a long shot to get through Q1. I did four laps in practice this morning.
It was interesting obviously with the rain in the first session, getting through in that, and then the drying track and fully drive there really in the end, so we had all the conditions there. I have to thank the engineering group, we had a really tough Indianapolis and to back with a pole is great, obviously with a 10-spot grid penalty tomorrow. I’ll do the best from where we start.”
JAMES JAKES:“Obviously it was tough on everyone with the weather conditions, and I think the biggest thing was just staying patient, really. I was out with the first group of the first 12 and it was quite a bit wetter.
You just had to make sure you had a clean lap at the end of the session with a couple of a minutes to go to maximize the potential of the car. I think we did that. I’ve been pretty happy with the pace all weekend, especially in practice this morning. The balance with the reds changed quite a bit, so we still have quite a bit of work to do. Obviously with the weather coming in, and the forecast tomorrow, starting as high up as you can is going to be key, and we got a great position.”
MIKE CONWAY: “It was obviously a bit dryer in our session. The tires started to go pretty quick. So obviously one tire, and then you try have to back off and cool the tires down and go for another one and that was enough to put me through.
Obviously the other two [segments] after that were still tricky. The drying conditions at the end there beat the tires up pretty hard. I think we went out maybe a little too early, but to be third straight back in the car again is good. Obviously a good starting position for the race.”
ALEX TAGLIANI: “It’s really nice to be back in the front. Obviously we struggled a little bit with the new tires this year from the beginning of the year.
We worked a lot, the team work a lot, and I was kind of nervous a bit at the beginning to unload the car, being a one car team there’s not too many chances. We didn’t know it yet, but the car was really fast so we were really happy about that. The team did a great job with that. Qualifying car was really good too. We made some changes and at the end we knew we had a chance at the pole and we kind of messed up the car a bit. So that was unfortunate because the car was really fast, so hopefully we can make it up in the race.” By James Foreman