Race Report: Detroit Grand Prix – Race 1
DETROIT May 30—While rain may be a problem in the roofing business, it is not a problem for the ABC Supply Racing drivers Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth. Amidst the inclement weather that made Race 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle a dicey affair today, both drivers took their ABC Supply Hondas to the front.
With a heavy downpour dousing the track before the race, INDYCAR officials declared a wet start, meaning all cars had to use rain tires. Sato, who started fourth, wasted no time showing his prowess in the rain as he passed the top three Team Penske drivers by lap three. Sato led through lap 14 and then pitted for slicks (dry track tires) as the track began to dry.
Hawksworth pitted on lap 10 for slicks along with a handful of other drivers. When the leaders pitted five laps later, Hawksworth vaulted from his 14th starting spot to third behind Marco Andretti and Lucca Filippi.
Sato, who won the race off pit road with his team’s seven-second pit stop, found himself in eighth spot when the race restarted. On the restart on lap 18, he and Josef Newgarden made contact and both drivers had to pit for repairs. Sato took on a new nose and restarted in 18th.
Hawksworth moved into second on lap 20 and held that position until his team called him in to get rain tires on lap 34 since the rain started falling again. Sato was also told to pit for rain tires the same lap. Both drivers had uneventful stops but they had lost track position to a several cars that either pitted a couple laps earlier or hadn’t pitted until several laps later.
Hawksworth emerged seventh and Sato 14th. Several drivers such as Andretti and his teammate Carlos Munoz stayed on the slick tires despite the ever-slickening track. By the time they did pit, they had increased their lead enough to pit without losing a position to those behind them. Munoz waited the longest, pitting on lap 42. The strategy paid off as Munoz claimed his first victory in the Verizon IndyCar Series when the race was red-flagged due to weather conditions on lap 48.
Hawksworth claimed seventh for his best finish of the season. “Today was definitely a fun race, there was a lot of action going on,” the 24-year-old Brit said. “I was at the back, at the front, then the middle and finished seventh in the end. The ABC Supply car was really good. The strategy was one of those 50/50 decisions whether you come in for wets or stay out on the dry tires (slicks). At least we were in a pretty good position from that perspective. We came in a little too early as it turned out and got jumped by a few people. But the car was really good and the guys were good on the stops, and that all kind of bodes well for tomorrow so hopefully we can have a good qualifying. It was nice to score some points today.”
Sato passed several cars to finish 11th for his best ever finish at Belle Isle.
“What a race! The conditions gave me the opportunity and the conditions took our result as well,” Sato said. “At the beginning of the race it was wet conditions, and I was really happy. I overtook cars one by one—Montoya at the first hairpin, then Castroneves on the back straight and Will Power at Turn 1. It all looked really good. The ABC boys did a really good job on the first pit stop—it was a really fast pit stop so that helped me out. However, at that time, a number of the cars were on dry tires already, so we shuffled around on the positions [went from the lead to eighth]. After that, we saw the big rain coming so we came into the pit for wet tires, and then the rain didn’t come as soon as we thought, so that was a gamble that didn’t pay off. At the end of the race, it looked like our final pit stop might have been a good call if they had continued the race because a lot of people ahead of us still had to pit but that didn’t happen. Fortunately, our car was strong so hopefully we’ll have a good performance tomorrow.”
Following Munoz across the line were Andretti, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Scott Dixon.
The teams will have one round of qualifying tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. ET to determine the grid for Race 2. That race will be televised live by ABC-TV starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.