By: Spencer Neff
June 12, 2021
The June doubleheader that has become tradition for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES began with the first of two 70-lap races on Saturday.
Here’s a look at an eventful day of action.
Ericsson takes first win in frantic Race 1
Following an eventful Race 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, Marcus Ericsson stormed from 15th on the grid and became the seventh driver from seven different countries to win in the first seven races of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
After taking the checkered flag by 1.729 seconds over Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver earned his first career win, the fourth driver to do so in 2021. The seven different winners in as many races matches the mark set in 1958, 2000 (CART) and 2017.
Continuing to eat into Alex Palou’s points lead, Pato O’Ward finished third after starting on the pole. After leapfrogging Scott Dixon for second in points, he is just 12 back of the championship lead. Here’s a look at how the race unfolded from the start.
By Lap 3, drivers began to make the switch to the primary Firestone tires after fulfilling the mandatory two laps on the alternates.
After making his first pit stop, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden suffered a driveshaft issue. While making a second pit stop, the left-rear tire fell off the No. 2 entry.
While the field was jumbled up during the opening stint with various strategies playing out, the race stayed under green.
On Lap 25, the throttle on Felix Rosenqvist’s Arrow McLaren SP entry stuck, sending the No. 7 hard into the Turn 6 tire barrier. After a lengthy extraction, he was put in a neck brace and stretchered to a local hospital, fortunately he was awake and alert with no major injuries, per IndyCar Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows.
He will be kept overnight for observation and the team has selected Oliver Askew, 2019 Indy Lights Champion and last year’s driver of the No. 7, to fill in on Sunday.
Following a 78-minute red flag to replace the damaged concrete barrier, racing resumed with 39 laps remaining. Once the lead drivers, including Scott Dixon, pitted, Power took over the race lead. After leading Friday’s lone practice session, the race looked to be a third win on Belle Isle for the 2014 Series Champion.
With six laps remaining, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR’s Romain Grosjean smacked the outside wall in Turn 9, prompting the second caution of the day. Soon after, IndyCar threw the red flag, pausing the race for a second time. Under the yellow, Power struggled with keeping himself and his Engine Control Unit (ECU) cooled.
Once the red flag was lifted, Power’s car was unable to refire and Ericsson took over the lead. From there, he kept the lead and never looked back.
O’Ward nabs Pole Position
By turning a best lap of 1m15.5776 (111.938 miles per hour), Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward earned his second pole of the season, the first driver to do so.
O’Ward topped Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi, a two-time pole winner at the circuit, by .0808 of a second for his third career pole.
Dale Coyne Racing teammates Romain Grosjean and Ed Jones will share Row 2. Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Rinus VeeKay also made the Fast 12.
After posting the 11th-fastest time of 13 drivers in Group 1, points leader Alex Palou was relegated to the back of the field for an engine change prior to May 30’s Indianapolis 500.
Here is the schedule for Sunday’s on-track activities. Keep tabs on this weekend’s action with IndyCar1909.com and our social media platforms, listed at the bottom of our webpage. All times listed are track local (Eastern).
9:15 – 10 a.m. – Race 2 qualifying for NTT P1 Award (Two rounds of knockout qualifying/10 minutes each), NBCSN, Peacock Premium (live)
Noon – Driver introductions
12:43 p.m. – Command to start engines
12:50 p.m. – Chevrolet Dual in Detroit #2 (70 laps/164.5 miles), NBC (live)
Header Image By Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR