Qualifying for double-header events is unique – only holding one round of qualifying with the field split into groups of two. The fastest driver of the session is then awarded the Verizon P1 Award and the remaining drivers in his group fill in the odd-numbered grid spots based on quickest times. The drivers from the second-fastest group take the even-numbered grid positions.
Race 1 qualifying saw Alexander Rossi and Zach Veach in the first group of drivers. Rossi’s quickest time was second best of the session, landing him a second-row starting position. Veach snagged a spot on the eighth row. Group 2 hosted Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay. On the final lap of the session Andretti put together an incredible lap and earned the Verizon P1 award, his first pole position since 2013. Hunter-Reay was third fastest and took the fifth starting position.
Qualifying for Race 2 saw wet conditions and Firestone’s brand-new rain tires were put to the test for the first time. Andretti and Hunter-Reay made their qualifying attempt in the first group where they earned the 10th and 12th starting positions, respectively. Rossi and Veach went out for Group 2 where Veach would eventually take home a career-best starting position of seventh. Andretti Autosport swept the pole positions for the two-race event when Rossi earned his second pole of the 2018 season.
CHASING THE CHECKERS.
On a three-stop strategy, Ryan Hunter-Reay worked his way through the field after starting from fifth to eventually lead seven laps. When the checkered flag was waved, Hunter-Reay took the second step of the podium and Alexander Rossi joined him on the third.
After starting from the pole position, Marco Andretti led the first 22 laps of the race before making his first pit stop. Maintaining a two-stop strategy, the third generation driver battled for podium contention the remainder of the race, but ultimately settled for a fourth-place finish.
Zach Veach made his first start on the streets of Belle Isle where he gained four positions to see the checkered flag in 12th.
In dominating fashion, Ryan Hunter-Reay returned to Victory Circle after leading 18 laps in Detroit’s Dual 2. On a three-stop strategy, the DHL machine worked its way through the field and capitalized on clean air to gain advantage over competitors.
The race saw only three leaders, including pole sitter Alexander Rossi. Between Hunter-Reay and Rossi, the team led 64 of today’s 70 laps. After leading 46 laps, Rossi found himself in trouble when an issue with the car forced him to the run-off. Rossi limped his way back to the pits on Lap 64 for a quick tire change and eventually saw the checkered flag in 12th.
Marco Andretti and Zach Veach also had competitive cars, but their three-stop strategy left them in traffic and fighting for position.
Leaving Motor City having occupied each step of the podium over two races, the Andretti team looks to build on their championship standings Saturday with 248-laps under the Texas Motor Speedway lights.
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IN THEIR WORDS.
No. 28 DHL Honda
Verizon INDYCAR Series
“I was doing qualifying laps out there the whole time. It was physical, just trying to qualify every single lap. Then at the end, with the restarts, my rhythm was kind of thrown off. I had trouble getting the tires clean, and kind of let (Scott) Dixon slip away. I thought, the first couple laps after the green came out on the restart, I had something for him, but I just couldn’t keep the mid-corner speed on the far end of the track to keep up with him and get close enough for the pass. Good job by the No. 28 DHL boys today in the pit lane again. They did an awesome job in Indy and again today, just phenomenal. We just came up a bit short today for the win, but we’ll take a podium.”
“After I took that second set of blacks, the Firestone primary tires, I started to get in sync with the car and the balance started coming to me. I was really worried in the beginning because we were really loose, and then as I got into a rhythm, the car was doing everything I needed it to – everything. When we started that last stint, (Alexander) Rossi was more than a straightaway ahead of us. I couldn’t even see him. I just put my head down and this thing was flying. It was such a great car. I’m so happy for this No. 28 DHL Honda team. This car deserves to be where it is right now. That was a heck of a car, a heck of a strategy, my crew was great in pit lane and I drove my rear end off. That was going to be a heck of a fight at the end – it’s a bummer Rossi wasn’t on the podium with me. I wish my wife and the boys were here to celebrate with me because this has been a long time coming and would have loved to have shared this moment with them.”
No. 98 AutoNation / Curb Honda
Verizon INDYCAR Series
“I guess you gotta be happy right? This AutoNation car was a machine and I really think it deserved a podium today. But, you know, we went backwards and that’s not what we wanted to do. You hate to go backwards. We definitely wanted another trophy, I haven’t had a podium in awhile and that’s been getting to me, let alone the win. We’ll do some homework tonight on how we can improve on the race today and do better tomorrow. We want to get the pole and win tomorrow.”
“The AutoNation car was great this weekend. Unfortunately today, we got caught out in a three-stop strategy and kept getting caught in traffic. The car had the pace, I had the pace, we just couldn’t take advantage of it. We passed a lot of cars today and it was a lot of fun out there, it just wasn’t the result we wanted.”
No. 27 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda
Verizon INDYCAR Series
“It’s great for Andretti Autosport to finish 2-3-4, it’s great for the team. I think the No. 27 Ruoff Home Mortgage car had the capability to win, but for whatever reason, after pit stops, we just kept coming out behind a slower car and weren’t able to maximize clean air and fresh tire pace. With that being said, when the last restart happened, I knew we didn’t have the pace for the top two, so sometimes you’ve just got to be content with third. It’s great to be back on the podium, it’s great for the team after a very long month of May.”
“It was a pretty disappointing day considering we led the most laps and started on pole. For sure we didn’t have the pace for Ryan – he was just on another level. So hats off to him and the DHL team, they certainly deserved to win. But the Ruoff Home Mortgage car definitely had a second-place finish in it. Unfortunately, with less than 10 laps to go, our luck changed. We’re not really sure what happened, we’re going to investigate to see if something went wrong because it was a very abnormal issue to have when we hadn’t experienced anything remotely similar all weekend.”
No. 26 Relay / Group 1001 Honda
Verizon INDYCAR Series
“I thought we had a really good qualifying car. I think we should have qualified inside the top six, but I just didn’t do the job I needed to during qualifying. I think our car is good, there’s just a couple things I need to improve on tomorrow. Overall – for learning – I think today was very good for us. Obviously 12th isn’t where we want to be finishing races, but for our first race here, I don’t think it’s terrible. Congratulations to my teammates, they’ve done a hell of a good job all weekend, so far. They’re paving the way for me and I’m just learning as much as I can. Detroit is very rough and 70 laps around this place seems like an eternity -tomorrow is going to be a lot of work as well.”
“I felt like it was a much better race for the Relay team today even though the results didn’t show it. We got caught up in the beginning with our Reds (Firestone alternate tires) falling off, so we had to switch from a two-stop to a three-stop strategy – which was something we were hoping we wouldn’t have to do. I feel like that cost us and placed us back in the 10th to 15th range. Everybody did an incredible job from my Relay crew to my engineer, Garrett. I’m just thankful we were able to walk away with two average finishes. That’s what this rookie year is all about – learning from each race and I can honestly say we’ve learned a lot so far.”