In a race that featured a little bit of everything, the second Chevrolet Dual in Detroit ended with a first-time winner as Simon Pagenaud scored his first-career IndyCar Series victory on the Streets of Belle Isle.
Multiple cautions and pit strategies jumbled the running order and it was Pagenaud and Sam Schmidt Motorsports that made all the right calls. Pagenaud led twice for a total of 18 laps and last picked up the top spot on lap 58, when James Jakes surrendered the lead for his final pit stop.
But Pagenaud would not go to victory lane unchallenged, having to hold off a relentless effort from Jakes and Saturday's race winner, Mike Conway. Pagenaud and his team timed their stops perfectly, however, making the tires and fuel last, and Pagenaud became the third first-time winner in IndyCar since the start of the season.
"There were a lot of things going on in the cockpit in the last two laps, I can tell you that," Pagenaud said of the emotions surrounding the victory. "It's unbelievable. I don't know how we did it. The car was mega-fast."
A win, combined with the fact that Honda swept the podium, appears to put an end to the notion that Honda is at a disadvantage against the Chevrolet -- at least on road and street courses.
"Honda has been amazing," Pagenaud said. "I certainly had more horsepower than anyone else out there right now. Thanks to everybody. I want to thank my family and everybody around me. This wouldn't have happened without them. Man, it's a great feeling. One of more to come, I hope."
The number and placement of the cautions seemed to dampen the effort from Conway, the indisputably fastest driver of the weekend. Despite winning on Saturday and scoring the pole for Sunday's race, Conway just couldn't keep his car out front due to the number of different pit strategies late in the event.
Conway was closing in on the leaders late in the race but ultimately ran out of laps.
"I was catching James [Jakes]," Conway said. "I could see he was on reds, so he started to pull away at the start with when he came out from that last pit stop... I used my overtake [assist], the one I had left, maybe a lap too early. And that was enough. I couldn't quite get close enough."
The field was first scrambled on lap 28 as Sebastian Bourdais ran into the back of Will Power, setting off a 10-car chain accident that also involved Ryan Briscoe, EJ viso, Justin Wilson, Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, James Hinchcliffe, Alex Tagliani and Graham Rahal.
The accident would end Power's race, and Bourdais received a green-flag pass through penalty for avoidable contact.
Seven combined cautions, including one on the first lap for AJ Allmendinger, gave teams several different tire and fuel options and it ultimately decided the race.
In Race 1 on Saturday, Conway overtook Ryan Hunter-Reay for the lead on Lap 44, built a 20-second gap and went on to easily claim his second-career IndyCar victory. Because Conway did not sweep the inaugural IndyCar Series doubleheader, the prize fund for the SONAX Perfect Finish Award will jump to $100,000 at Toronto in mid-July.
- Simon Pagenaud
- James Jakes
- Mike Conway
- Scott Dixon
- Dario Franchitti
- Marco Andretti
- Charlie Kimball
- Helio Castroneves
- Graham Rahal
- Sebastian Saavedra
- Sebastien Bourdais
- Tony Kanaan
- Ryan Briscoe
- Tristan Vautier
- Ed Carpenter
- Josef Newgarden
- E.J. Viso
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- James Hinchcliffe
- Will Power
- Alex Tagliani
- Justin Wilson
- Takuma Sato
- Simona De Silvestro
- AJ Allmendinger