By: Spencer Neff
May 31, 2019 | 11:37 AM
Following a disappointing Indianapolis 500 a week ago, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is looking to turn things back around. In the first practice for this weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, the defending IndyCar Series Champion got off to a great start.
With a fastest lap of 1m16.7418s (110.240 mph), the two-time winner on The Raceway at Belle Isle paced opening practice in his Dallara-Honda.
After finishing fifth in his bid to repeat as Indianapolis 500 winner on Sunday, Team Penske’s Will Power slotted in second. Posting a lap 0.3464 seconds behind Dixon, Power was the fastest Chevrolet entry.
In third, 2018 Race 2 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was the fastest Andretti Autosport driver. And after losing the points lead last weekend, Power’s teammate Josef Newgarden finished this morning’s 45-minute session in fourth.
Rounding out the top five for Practice 1 was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal. In 2017, Rahal became the first driver to win both races at Belle Isle since it started hosting a doubleheader race weekend in 2013.
Throughout its history, Belle Isle has become known as one of the most demanding tracks on the circuit. During the first on-track session for the 2019 session, that was again the case.
Although several drivers experienced lock-ups and stalls, the practice was only halted once. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais locked up the brakes in Turn 7.
After the two-time Detroit Grand Prix winner stalled out trying to turn around, the red flag was brought out briefly. Fortunately for the other 23 drivers, the session went back to green with about three minutes remaining.
With just 11 laps run, Bourdais was tied with RLLR’s Takuma Sato and Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe for fewest in the session.
In all, the 22-car field was separated by 2.3768 seconds between Dixon and A.J. Foyt Racing’s Matheus Leist. The top 12 cars were within a second of each other.
Indianapolis 500 winner and current NTT IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud ended the morning in 12th, .9669 seconds behind Dixon.
Looking to bounce back from a disappointing last-place effort at the Indianapolis 500, Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta finished sixth. The effort was good enough to place the Circuit of The Americas winner fastest among the five rookies in the field.
In addition to Power and Herta, Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Felix Rosenqvist tied for the most laps run, with each driver logging 20. A total of 336 laps were turned in by the field.
On-track action for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will continue later on Friday afternoon. At 2:50 p.m. Eastern time, there will be a final 45-minute practice session.
Five minutes after the completion of practice two, teams will be given a 40-minute session for warm-ups and pit stop practices.
At 10:45 on Saturday morning, two 12-minute sessions will be run to determine the starting lineup for that day’s 70-lap race. For this weekend’s qualifying, Group 1 will determine the inside of the grid. Meanwhile, Group 2 will determine the outside of the grid.
Saturday will conclude with the opening race of the doubleheader. The green flag for Race 1 is set for 3:50 p.m. and the race will be shown live on NBC.
For Sunday’s race, the same schedule will be followed for qualifying and racing. Stayed tuned to Open-Wheels.com and our social media platforms for the latest on this weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.
Header Image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.
Open-Wheels coverage of the 2019 month of May at Indianapolis is presented by Driven 2 Save Lives. Driven 2 Save Lives, an entity of the Indiana Donor Network, is a program that utilizes motorsports as a platform to encourage race fans to become organ donors. Currently, there are 114,000 individuals that are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Register as an organ, tissue, and eye donor at Driven2SaveLives.org/register and follow Driven2SaveLives on Facebook and Twitter.