Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report

Track:                  Streets of Belle Isle

Race:                   Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix

Date:                   June 13, 2021

No. 2 Hitachi Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden

Start: 1st – 12th-career NTT INDYCAR SERIES P1 Award

Finish: 2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 70/70

Laps Led: 67

Points Position: 4th (-51 pts)

  • Josef Newgarden and the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet team came close to sweeping the second day of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend on the Streets of Belle Isle before a late-race pass by Pato O’Ward dropped him to second when the race took the checkered.
  • During the morning qualifying session, Newgarden scored his 12th-career pole position as he jumped to the top of the scoring pylon with just seconds left on the clock in the Firestone Fast 12 qualifying session.
  • When the green flag waived to start the second race of the doubleheader weekend, Newgarden wasted little time in jumping out to a commanding lead of 17 seconds on the Firestone primary tire. However, a critical moment happened late in the first stint when Newgarden was forced to pit lane several laps ahead of schedule for another round of Firestone primary tires due to a possible caution on the track.
  • The early call resulted in Newgarden having to run the final 25 laps of the race on a set of the Firestone alternate “red” tires that each driver must use for one stint of a road or street course race. The softer compound was not as durable and as the tire started to go away, Newgarden fell back into the clutches of O’Ward, who made the pass with just three laps remaining.

Quote: “It’s hard not to be disappointed. I think we had the car to beat. It’s just cautions when we didn’t need them and the wrong tires when we didn’t need them. It was a fun strategy. I think we were doing well. It’s just the caution that killed us. My rears were shot. And we didn’t really need that. So, it is what it is. We tried. We went for what we went for. I don’t want to second guess too much. It just didn’t fall our way there at the end, so that’s pretty sad. Obviously, Team Chevy won still. So, I’m very happy for all our partners. Team Chevy does a lot for us, so to get a one-two is a big thing here in Detroit. I’m super happy about that.”

No. 3 PPG Dallara/Chevrolet – Scott McLaughlin

Start: 21st

Finish: 20th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 69/70

Laps Led:  0

Points Position:  12th (-135 pts)

  • Scott McLaughlin and the No. 3 PPG Chevrolet team hoped that the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend used of their season allotment of misfortune as the New Zealand ace finished 20th on Sunday afternoon to end a frustrating weekend for the rookie.
  • Sunday afternoon, McLaughlin started the second, 70-lap race of the weekend from the 21st position and used most of his first stint to save his Firestone alternate tires to help the two-pit stop strategy he and the team decided upon. As other competitors on a three-pit stop strategy began to make their first stops of the day, McLaughlin worked his way into the top 10.
  • After making his final pit stop of the day on lap 46, McLaughlin was set to pick up a solid finish on which to build for a strong second half of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Unfortunately, he felt a tire going down at lap 53 and was forced to make another trip to pit lane where a cut in the sidewall was discovered. The extra pit stop dropped McLaughlin down a lap as he crossed the finish line in the 20th position.
  • The next race for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will come at the picturesque Road America circuit on Sunday, June 20th.

Quote: “It was another difficult day out there on Belle Isle. After starting 21st we got up to mid-pack, around 12th or 13th, on strategy and unfortunately had a cut tire midway through the last stint after some contact. It wasn’t my best race, but it wasn’t my worst. This is one of the toughest weekends of my career, but something I can build on. A character-building weekend, for sure. We have some good road courses coming up that I know the PPG Chevy will be strong on, so I have my focus on those.”

No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start: 20th

Finish: 6th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 70/70

Laps Led:  0

Points Position: 11th (-130)

  • Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon 5G rallied from a less-than-ideal starting position to finish sixth in the second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle on Sunday afternoon.
  • The strategy for the No. 12 team was to run long at the beginning of the race to gain track position later. This strategy worked as Power claimed the second position by lap 23. Lap 27 would see the No. 12 Verizon 5G car come to pit road for four tires and fuel, cycling out to the eighth position.
  • By lap 51, the Australian made his way to third position and was giving it all he had until being forced to stop for tires and fuel on lap 52. Power then cycled through to the seventh position.
  • The yellow flag would fly on lap 55, but the call for Power was to stay out and retain his position on the track. With seven-laps remaining and the field back to green-flag racing, Power managed to pick off an additional position and brought the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet to a sixth-place finish when the checkered flag flew.

Quote: “It was a very good day considering where we started. The guys had a really good strategy and really good pit stops. I was happy to get some yellows at the end because we had new reds and I was comfortable that they would last. I was right there behind O’Ward and he went on to win it, so it shows what you can do if you are good at restarts.”

No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start: 10th

Finish: 8th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 70/70

Laps Led:  0

Points Position:  6th (-56)

  • Simon Pagenaud and No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team started and finished in the top 10 after competing hard all afternoon at Belle Isle for race two of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. 
  • Pagenaud began the 70-lap event from the 10th position and worked his way up to eighth early on. The call from atop the box was for Pagenaud to pit for four tires and fuel, cycling through to the 15th position on lap 21.
  • The two-stop strategy for the No. 22 Menards team saw Pagenaud make his way back to pit lane for his final stop on lap 48. After the field cycled through pit stops, the Menards Chevrolet was scored in the ninth position.
  • A caution at lap 55 left the team with an option to pit if needed, but the decision was made to retain their track position and stay out for the last 15 laps of the 70-lap event.
  • The caution flag would arise again with 11-laps remaining in the race and Pagenaud would restart the race from the ninth position. Aggressive and smart driving by the Frenchman enabled the No. 22 to advance his position to cross the finish line in eighth.

Quote: “It was a decent Championship Day today for Race Two of Detroit. It was treacherous out there, but we had a competitive Menards Chevrolet and that makes me excited for the rest of the season. We found a lot of stuff this weekend that makes me feel comfortable and we can squeeze some good speed out of the car. We saw a lot of strategy today, but overall, it was great race.”