The NTT IndyCar Series continues their highly-competitive campaign with a pair of street races in the Motor City this weekend.
The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Presented By Lear holds separate 70-lap features at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park. Saturday’s green flag drops at 1:05 p.m. (Central) while Sunday’s event launches at 11:50 a.m (Central).
A total of 25 open-wheeled pilots will compete at each day’s showcase within the 2.35-mile, 14-turn street course. Through six IndyCar races this season, each event has seen a different driver reach the winner’s circle.
With so much talent in the fold this weekend, there is the clear possibility of two additional drivers that have yet to claim checkered flags in 2021 to join that group.
In the series points standings, Alex Palou’s second place finish at the Indianapolis 500 two weekend’s ago netted the Chip Ganassi Racing team double points that catapulted himself to the top position (248). Of primary interest this weekend is that the IndyCar sophomore will make his debut appearance on the street course.
“I’ve never been there, so I don’t know what to expect,” said Palou earlier this week. “It’s going to be challenging for sure. The track looks awesome (but) looks really bumpy. I think it’s super good for me that there’s a double race.”
Palou leads the defending series champion, and Ganassi teammate, Scott Dixon by 36 points (212). Both drivers have recorded solo wins on the season and Dixon has three career wins at Belle Isle Park.
Meanwhile, Pato O’ Ward (Arrow McLaren SP) trails Dixon by a solo point (211) and has also claimed a victory on the year.
“Man, it’s so tight this year that I feel like the field is stacked,” said O’Ward of the series parity. “It’s full of many talented drivers. I don’t think it’s ever been harder. Whoever is most consistent in the podiums and in the top 5s is going to take (the title) at the end of the year.”
Drivers looking to claim their first win of the season include Team Penske team mates Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden, who respectively sits fourth and sixth in points.
Rinus Veekay (Ed Carpenter Racing) and Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport) have also recorded wins on the season and both aim for a second triumph that will lead to a points push.
Other notables to watch this weekend include Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) who currently tops the rookie class and team mate Will Power, who has been snake bit by misfortune this season and currently sits twelfth in the standings. However, he has won at Belle Isle Park twice (2014, 2016) and could play a standings’ spoiler.
Race coverage can be seen locally both days on KSDK, Channel 5.
For more info on the NTT IndyCar Series, go to their official website.