Off the start in Detroit, the Belle Isle race was under review. Ultimately, no action was taken and pole sitter Marco Andretti in the No.98 Honda led the field cleanly through the first handful of laps. Max Chilton, already near the rear of the field lost seven positions on the start alone. Early battles at both the front and the back of the pack made for exciting fan action.
Jordan King and Josef Newgarden were among the first to pit to take off the soft Firestone red tires and switch to blacks. On Lap 9, James Hinchcliffe in the No. 11 was served a drive through penalty for a pit exit violation.
At the halfway mark, the Detroit GP had seen four lead changes across four drivers and almost 60 passes throughout the field. In the first half of the race both Sebastien Bourdais (who’d been struggling for many laps with what seemed to be a steering issue) and Rene Binder missed turns and landed themselves in the runoffs.
Bourdais was able to spin himself around and get back on the track without losing too much time, but Binder took multiple laps to put his Chevy machine in reverse and turn around.
Binder rejoined the field under yellow on Lap 48 after Graham Rahal hit the wall on Lap 53. His car seemed to snap, lose control and ticked off the curb to smash hard into the wall. Rahal was unbuckled and out of his cockpit before safety crews arrived, and the race returned to green flag action on Lap 53.
Later, Rahal said hitting the way he did was especially bad at the Detroit GP.
“I’m OK. It was about the worst hit you could take around here,” said Rahal. “I think the car did its job.”
With 15 laps to go, the four leaders had begun to stretch out from the pack, but the green was short-lived. Santino Ferrucci flew across the track, punted by Charlie Kimball from behind. Zach Veach narrowly avoided being swept up in the carnage, and Ferrucci was cleared and released from medical shortly after the incident. Kimball was served with a stop-and-go penalty for the avoidable contact.
Ferrucci didn’t seem to hold any ill will against Kimball after the race. He said it was just how races go.
“It’s disappointing to get run over like that, but that’s racing and we’ll come back stronger tomorrow.”
On Lap 60 the race resumed. Dixon and Hunter-Reay had no problem maintaining their first and second positions throughout the last ten laps. Alexander Rossi rounded out the podium, beating pole sitter Marco Andretti for third. Takuma Sato finished in the fifth place spot – his first top five finish since 2017 Mid-Ohio.
Dixon called the IndyCar series competition “through the roof,” and said he was glad for the win.
“If you look back a few years, you can sort of run off five or six victories in a season, and it seems those days are pretty much gone,” said Dixon.
The win brings Dixon to third on the all-time win list, tying Michael Andretti for third with 42 wins. It was his second win on the Detroit island, and the 14th consecutive season where Dixon has had at least one win.
The field returns to the streets Sunday, with the green flag at 3:50 p.m. Eastern. The race will be the final telecast for longtime partner ABC, with their broadcast window opening at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. IndyCar Radio will also have the call with Mark Jaynes anchoring the broadcast.