Race 1 of this weekend’s double header at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix proved to be a hard fought battle between Honda and Chevrolet drivers, but to their delight, Team Chevy managed to pull off the win for their home crowd.
After qualifying a disappointing 16th place, Team Penske driver Will Power came out the victor Saturday. The Australian passed Ryan Briscoe for the lead following a caution flag, prompted by rookie Mikhail Aleshin after he clipped James Hinchcliffe and went spinning into the wall. Power’s win didn’t come easy, he managed to hold off a charging Graham Rahal for the final 11 laps, despite the Honda driver’s best efforts.
Team Chevy driver Tony Kanaan managed to clinch a third place finish, rounding out the Chevy-dominated podium.
Last year’s winners, Mike Conway and Simon Pagenaud, both ended their days early Saturday. Pagenaud, attempting to make a risky pass, clipped Power’s rear and damaged a suspension piece on his car, putting him out of the race. Conway put the second yellow of the day out after hitting the wall on the exit of Turn 12. He radioed to his team mates that the car had understeered through the turn.
The winner of last weekend’s Indianapolis 500, Ryan Hunter Reay, started from the back of the grid after brushing the wall on his second qualifying lap. He battled through the pack for a top ten finish, but crashed on his final lap, dropping him down to 16th place.
Hunter-Reay will have a pivotal race today, with Power creeping up on him quick in the championship standings. Power is just three points out of first place and has the opportunity to gain a significant points lead if today’s race goes anything like yesterday’s.