Scott Dixon won a bizarre IndyCar race around the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit, where severe problems with the track surface forced a two-hour delay just as the event approached its scheduled halfway point.
Ganassi driver Dixon started from pole and led every lap, but the race will be remembered for the enormous strips of asphalt that were torn from the track’s surface, forcing race control to call for a red flag to allow track workers to implement a fix.
The trackwork came too late for Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe, who hit a chunk of the debris and was spat into the tyres on lap 45. The Canadian’s accident coincided almost exactly with Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Takuma Sato crashing on another section of the track after tripping over a kerb, bringing out a full-course yellow that switched to red as soon as the magnitude of the problem with the track surface became apparent.
The race was eventually restarted with the original distance reduced from 90 laps to 60, setting up a five-lap sprint to the finish, although the green flags had barely been waved before the yellows were needed again when Penske’s Helio Castroneves spun and was tagged by Ed Carpenter.
Yet another caution was needed a few laps later when EJ Viso (KV) spun and stalled in the middle of Turn 4, yet despite the disjointed track action, quite a few drivers were able to capitalise on the restarts.
Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt-Hamilton) was the first of the opportunists, taking advantage of Will Power being sold a dummy by Dixon just as they were preparing to go green and relieving the Penske driver of second place.
Behind him, Dario Franchitti was performing another Lazarus act and had got himself up to sixth after starting 14th. The Indianapolis 500 winner managed to turn that into third by passing three cars at the same time that Pagenaud was overtaking Power.
When the final restart came a couple of laps later Franchitti repeated the trick, taking second from the Frenchman and securing an unlikely 1-2 for the Ganassi team. Pagenaud crossed the line third, giving Honda a 1-2-3 just three miles down the road from GM’s world headquarters.