DETROIT (June 13, 2021)—The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 2 wrapped up the NTT INDYCAR Series weekend with a sunny, not humid, day on Belle Isle which made for a more comfortable race for the fans as well as the drivers.
Once again qualifying in the morning, Sebastien Bourdais just missed on transferring out of the first round and started 13th in the ROKiT Chevrolet. Teammate Dalton Kellett started 24th in the K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.
As is the tradition in Detroit, the over-the-wall pit crews are introduced along with the drivers which provides a shoutout to these unsung heroes.
The 70-lap race started shortly after but on the first lap, Bourdais took evasive action over the third turn curbing to avoid a driver who slammed the door on him. Bourdais lost four spots and Max Chilton took the brunt of the chain reaction accident as a full course yellow ensued. However, Chilton was able to rejoin the race.
Bourdais took the opportunity provided by the caution to pit and switch out the Firestone alternate tires for primaries.
The front tire changers, Warren Wilson (L) and Thomas Semik, adjust the front wing before sending Bourdais.
Kellett’s team kept him out to gain track position as six cars also pitted. Bourdais dropped to 21st and Kellett popped up to 16th.
Going according to plan, Kellett pitted on lap 18 but a miscue on the stop resulted in Kellett having to stop at pit out and wait until the pit stop cycle ended so the team could safely tow him back to his pit. The ordeal cost him eight laps and the race then became a test session as Kellett used the time to learn what he could.
The 14 team figured there would be a full course yellow since Kellett was in a dangerous location. They told Bourdais to duck into the pits to take advantage of pitting before the yellow. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off as the caution never came thus changing the original fuel strategy.
When it’s not your day, it’s not your day. Bourdais lost ground in Turn 3 when he had some trouble under braking forcing him into the runoff around the midpoint of the race. Although he got back on track quickly, he lost some of the ground he had made up earlier. However, he soldiered on to gain a few more spots and finished 16th.
“A promising weekend here at Detroit that still didn’t yield any kind of results we were hoping for,” said the two-time winner of this event. “I think we had quite a bit more pace than the results show, but unfortunately, all that matters are the results and we just didn’t get it done this weekend. Simply not good enough and we’re going to try and come back stronger next week.”
Kellett finished 23rd and explained why their race became a test session after the first pit stop. Taking responsibility and being accountable isn’t always easy but it shows great character.
“Alright, well that was a tough one today, we had an issue in pit lane,” the 27-year-old Canadian said. “I’d say a big part of it’s on me. The guys have been so smooth and so quick, I was kind of getting in that muscle memory of launching as soon as the fuel probe is out. We had an issue on the right rear, and when I was looking at the outside front, I just didn’t wait to see him send me. I just went early and the right rear [tire] wasn’t quite on so I had to stop at the end of pit lane and get dragged all the way back to our box. We went down a number of laps which was pretty frustrating.”
Although frustrated with the situation, Kellett also noted that there were some positives he took from the race weekend.
“I think coming out of this weekend, our qualifying performance was definitely a big step up from where we’ve been. We were only a tenth or two from being in the middle of our group so I think that was a really good job and the car’s race pace, once we got going, was actually pretty good, so from a driving standpoint, pretty happy. The car felt great, the Foyt guys gave me a good wagon this weekend.”
The Detroit River and city skyline provide the spectacular backdrop for Kellett’s Chevy.
“You know we succeed as a team and we lose as a team,” Kellett continued. “We will learn from what went wrong and make sure we add that into our procedures moving forward and have a good race next weekend.”
Pato O’Ward won the race, becoming the first driver to win twice this season. He also took the lead in the points race with his victory. Second through fifth were pole winner Josef Newgarden, Alex Palou, Colton Herta and Graham Rahal.
The REV Group Grand Prix at Road America will be broadcast live on NBCSN Sunday, June 20th starting at 12 noon ET.