By Mike Specht
(DETROI|T, MI) – The first day of meaningful races at the Verizon Dual in Detroit is in the books and Australia’s Will Power was top dog following the 70 lap IndyCar race on Saturday afternoon. Starting in 16th, Power clocked in with an average speed of 90.138 mph and overtook Ryan Briscoe on the 60th lap – a lead he would not relinquish.
Rounding out the podium were Graham Rahal of the United States, and Tony Kanaan from Brazil.
Qualifying with the second fastest time on Saturday morning, Canadian James Hinchcliffe registered 28 points for Honda in a sixth place finish during the big race. Hinchcliffe has qualified well all season, but circumstances beyond his control have stopped the #27 car from top finishes all season.
At the post-qualifying press conference Hinchcliffe noted the challenge of adapting from racing in Indianapolis a week ago, to the grueling circuit that is Belle Isle.
“It’s just so tough here. You come from the greatest, grandest, smoothest, most open track in racing to a bumpy, multi-surface street track, it’s such a tough adjustment,” Hinchcliffe said.
Last year’s Day 1 champion, Mike Conway, had his race ended prematurely when he hit the wall on the 15th lap. Prior to the wreck Conway was competing for a top five spot with Hinchcliffe as they entered turn 12.
“I wanted to pressure them into mistake. I could see James was sliding and caught it a couple of times. I got into turn 12 a little late and the car coul dn’t turn. I clipped the outside of the wall pretty hard,” said the disappointed Conway.
The Day 2 winner from last year, Simon Pagenaud, experienced a similarly tumultuous day on the track. Pagenaud was penalized in qualifying for interference, and then wrecked in the early laps of the race.
Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will be looking for a better result Sunday afternoon as well. The overall points leader lost ground countless times and believes that a change in strategy is in order for Sunday’s race.
With his 16th overall finish, Hunter-Reay’s lead has now slimmed to just three points over the upstart Power, who also boasts two victories on the season.
“We kept losing spots on pit lane, we lost spots on the track and it was just a tough day. Marco (Andretti) seemed to be struggling on fuel and I got inside of him and just lost the rear of the car,” said Hunter-Reay.
The action begins again at 3:00 pm Sunday for the second half of the Dual in Detroit.