Daly Produces Podium Finish for Honda in Detroit
- Correct calls from pit lane help Daly finish second in opening race
- Graham Rahal finishes fourth, as Honda drivers claim four of the top seven positions
- Second race in doubleheader race weekend to run Sunday
In a race of multiple, competing fuel strategies, bold calls from Dale Coyne Racing enabled Honda’s Conor Daly to move to the front of the field during the closing stages of Saturday’s opening race in the doubleheader “Dual in Detroit” Verizon IndyCar Series race weekend.
After building a lead of just over 20 seconds with 10 laps remaining around the temporary Belle Isle Park street circuit, Daly, a series rookie, made a brief, fuel-only stop and emerged in second place, behind eventual race winner Sebastien Bourdais, to claim his first IndyCar race podium finish.
Running a different pit-stop strategy, Graham Rahal came through to finish fourth, his fourth top-five result of 2016. Meanwhile, another group of drivers elected to make their initial pit stops in the first half-dozen laps of today’s 70-lap contest, to change their softer, alternate “red” tires for the more durable, primary “blacks”. This plan netted a sixth-place finish for Andretti Autosport driver Carlos Munoz and seventh for teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Alexander Rossi followed up last week’s dramatic Indianapolis 500 victory with a 10th-place finish.
Light showers, which started mid-race and continued throughout the rest of the event, added to the uncertainty, but the race ran relatively incident-free, with only two accident-related cautions, neither of them serious.
Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda racing activities in Detroit, including today’s Indy car and IMSA sports car races, are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2015 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
IndyCar Series teams and drivers now prepare for the second race in this doubleheader weekend, with qualifying for Sunday’s 70-lap race at 10:45 a.m. EDT Sunday, and live ABC television race coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
Conor Daly (#18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda) started 16th, finished 2nd, first career Indy car podium: “I’m just so thankful to be here. Dale [Coyne, team owner] and my guys on the [pit] box, they’re incredible. We’ve had small issues in just about every qualifying session this year, so we haven’t started where we should be, but my guys always find a way to get us to the front. We got fantastic mileage from the Honda engine today, and the Firestone tires lasted so well we were able to do a fuel-only final stop. This feels like a win.”
Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) started 10th, finished 4th: “The guys did a great job. I’m frustrated that somehow [Conor] Daly and [Sebastien] Bourdais got around us. I’m disappointed about that. At the end of the day, the United Rentals Honda was great, we put some great laps in and to come out fourth is a nice result. Obviously I would rather be on that podium, but it’s a good first race for us here. I want to keep my podium streak here [Rahal has finished on the podium in Detroit in both 2014 and ‘15] but we will get another chance tomorrow. Pit stops were key and my guys did a great job. We put a good solid run together there to finish fourth. That was a tough race. Literally it hurt my bones. The kickback in the steering wheel is so rough that my wrists are just aching.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s first of two races in Detroit: “It was a very disjointed race, with at least four different strategies in play, so the outcome was completely up in the air. Unfortunately, we came up just short in what turned out to be the correct call. The good news is that we don’t have much time to dwell on it, as we do it all over again tomorrow. Congratulations to Conor on his first podium finish after leading a couple of times earlier this year, and to Dale Coyne Racing for a courageous strategy call and a smart race.”