Carlos Munoz gave Honda a victory today in the first of two IndyCar races to be held at Detroit’s Belle Isle park this weekend. The race was cut short due to inclement weather, but not before drivers representing both Honda and Chevrolet gave crowds in attendance a short yet exciting show to remember.
While rain plagued the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix earlier in the day, things began to clear up in time for the IndyCar start. Clouds looming in the distance left teams with a tough decision whether to run on rain tires or the usual Firestone slicks, but with a mostly dry track, many decided to start on the faster dry-weather tires. That included Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti and Munoz, who both stayed out on slick tires when the rain did start to come down, giving them a sizable lead early on.
A number of cautions delayed the race, making it that much harder for teams to strategize their tire stops. Tony Kanaan and James Jakes put out the first yellow flag of the race, getting caught up in an early wreck that also collected Graham Rahal, ending the 26-year old’s day. The majority of the remaining caution periods were put out for debris on the track.
Andretti pitted for rain tires on Lap 40 along with Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud. At the time the move was seen as a risk, as slick tires were still faster on the rain-sprinkled 2.3-mile circuit at the time. Munoz pitted three laps later, and when he re-joined, the Colombian was still 20-seconds ahead of the next-closest competitor, teammate Andretti.
Over the next 7 laps, Munoz extended his lead to over 30 seconds, however lightning soon joined the rain, putting out a mandatory 20-minute red flag. As the bad weather wore on, IndyCar officials decided to call the race, handing the win to Munoz and putting Andretti and Pagenaud in second and third, respectively. The win was Honda’s second of the year and also their second under rainy weather, with the first coming at NOLA in April.
Other Team Chevy drivers in the top ten, apart form Pagenaud, included Will Power in fourth, Scott Dixon in fifth and Helio Castroneves in sixth. Jack Hawksworth gave Honda a middle-of-the-pack finish, with Josef Newgarden, Luca Filippi and Juan Pablo Montoya rounding out the top ten, in that order.
The Verizon IndyCar Series will head to Texas for the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6. Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya currently tops the series’ standings with 292 points, followed by Will Power with 281 and Scott Dixon with 241.