IndyCar teams and drivers will face not one but two races this weekend when they compete on the Streets of Belle Isle in Detroit. The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit will feature the first of three doubleheaders on the schedule, with full races taking place on both Saturday and Sunday.
It's a challenging prospect on a variety of levels, as many teams do not yet have backup cars or the resources to quickly rebuild in one day should a major accident occur prior to the Sunday finale. Two races in one weekend will test the aggression of the drivers, because the risk of making certain moves could be doubled in qualifying or the Saturday race.
"It's going to be very important to take as much risk as possible without crashing the car, because that would be quite dramatic on the event itself," Simon Pagenaud said during a Wednesday teleconference. "But the approach is still to attack as much as possible, because that's what everyone else will be doing."
That's the same mindset shared by fellow Honda driver Alex Tagliani.
Since Bryan Herta Autosport-Barracuda Racing is in the same position as Pagenaud's Schmidt-Hamilton Racing (both teams do have at least one backup), Tagliani expects to push for the win because he can't afford not to, he told SB Nation in an interview conducted earlier in the month.
"You look at how close IndyCar is right now," Tagliani said. "That presents a lot of opportunities to win races and compete for podiums. But if you're off, just a little bit, or hold back at all, you can easily take a podium situation and put yourself deep in the field. So we're going to push in those three weekends and just see what happens."
When former IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard first announced the doubleheader format last year, it was accepted by teams with slight hesitation. On one hand, the teams are already at the track on Saturday and putting on a race gives an incentive for fans to come out to the track. On the other hand, teams just can't risk trashing their equipment in the full-points-paying preliminary or one of the two qualifying sessions.
"We can't do this without the fans," Tagliani said. "I couldn't race anywhere, not even once a weekend without them, so we should always ask them first. If this is something they want to see us do and are willing to support it, we'll make it work.
"But for sure, it's going to put us to the test. Whether it's fatigue or blisters, we're really going to feel it come Sunday. It changes our entire approach to a race weekend. We've trained ourselves to be at our peak performance by Sunday and now we're going to have to find that mindset twice on one weekend."
The races on both Saturday and Sunday will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ABC.