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What Drivers Are Saying about this weekend’s two-race Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix

Detroit GP Race 1 Start

Bret Kelley

After Sunday’s Indy 500, IndyCar drivers have moved on to Motor City for this weekend’s two-race Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle.

There will be points-paying races on Saturday and Sunday. But if you think that’s a hard task, don’t forget this: the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule then moves on to Texas Motor Speedway for the following race on Saturday night, June 9.

That’s three races in eight days!

Add in the Indy 500, and by the time the checkered flag falls at Texas, drivers will have competed in four races -- including the biggest race in the world -- in a 14-day span!

Here’s what Drivers Are Saying about this weekend’s back-to-back races in Detroit:


JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “There are some years that you kind of wish the weekend after Indianapolis was off because it’s such a long time away from home, but this year is a bit different. There seems to be a lot of buzz and excitement around Will’s Indy 500 win, so why not keep that going with a great weekend of racing in Detroit with the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet. The Indy 500 is a big deal to everyone in the field, but Detroit is a huge deal to Team Penske as well. You know the effort Roger (Penske) has put into this race and this city, with the help of Chevrolet. I’m really looking forward to seeing what new things have been done to the island since last year. It’s really a unique place.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “First of all, I’ve never been there so we are going to do the sim tomorrow to do some preparation for the race and I think we’ve been pretty strong on the street courses so far so I think the team might have a pretty good setup for Detroit too. It looks like a pretty tricky track, pretty bumpy. I think everyone is starting to get a little bit closer to each other after all the races that we’ve been done so I’m looking forward to a great race and finishing in the top 10.” (About racing a doubleheader): “I think it’s going to be just the same as Indy Lights, of course, the races are longer but it’s still pretty much the same format as the Indy Lights races. Since I started racing single-seaters, it’s been like this, two races a weekend, sometimes three races, so I think it’s going to be okay and I’m excited.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “I don’t think anyone is looking as forward to getting to Detroit as I am. We are obviously pretty keen to put May behind us and look forward to the rest of the championship. We were on the podium here last year and have had decent pace on the street circuits, so fingers crossed we can have a strong weekend in the Arrow Electronics car and get our season back on track.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “The ‘month of May’ is done and I’m ready to get back to normal life. I’m really excited for Detroit - a doubleheader weekend. It’s actually going to be something I’m pretty used to because, for the last handful of years racing in DTM, we always did doubleheaders: a race on Saturday and a race on Sunday. It’s going to be a fun one, it’s going to be challenging, and a new track for me. I think everyone on the No. 6 Lucas Oil car and everyone at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is going to do a great job. I’m sure James [Hinchcliffe] is going to be hungrier than ever to come back, and I’m going to be feeding off of that energy.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Detroit is always a big challenge. It’s physical, it’s mentally tough on the drivers, and you have to get everything right to get your car handling correctly there. You focus on the month of May for over three weeks in Indianapolis and then you have to get back to the championship mindset immediately facing you at Detroit. And on top of that, it’s the only doubleheader of the season. We’ll be ready to go in the PNC Bank car this weekend and hopefully have another good points weekend with the No. 9 team.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “This has been an amazing week so far. When you want something so much and it finally comes true, that your hard work has paid off, it is a great feeling. Now we have to focus on Detroit with the No. 12 Verizon team because I don’t want to experience a hangover from the win when we are leading the points. And this is such an important weekend for Roger (Penske) and Chevrolet. It’s great to come here as the Indy 500 Champion, but we want to win here too because this race means a lot to a lot of people. It’s such a tough circuit that you have to be in the game from the drop of the green flag or you can have a bad day pretty quick.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Good memories from Detroit, I won my first race there in the Indy Lights Series, actually won two races in Indy Lights [1996-97] and won the IndyCar race there [2007]. Bumpy track, a doubleheader, very difficult weekend physically and especially so after a stressful month in Indy. I’m looking forward to it. We’re coming with a great momentum in the team so we’ll work to keep it going.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “Last year at Detroit was a great weekend for the United Rentals team, no doubt about that. Everything went according to plan; it was perfect. We really need to try to replicate the performance. This year has been really solid with top-10s every single race, completing every single lap but I would like to go to Detroit and find a way to win both of the races just like last year. It was a dream weekend. We were fastest or second in every single practice or qualifying session and then in the race; it was just a perfect weekend. We need to find a way to make magic happen again. Looking at the long-range forecast, it looks like it will be in the low 70’s so it will be a nice and a good change from what we had in Indy. From a physicality standing point for me, it’s one of my strengths compared to others so we’ve just got to try to take advantage of that. I think our street course car is our best package that we have currently so I definitely feel really good about our situation. I really feel Detroit should suit us extremely well. Clearly, coming off of last year, everybody in our team has a lot of confidence that we can go there and have a great weekend. We’re going to try our best.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “Roger (Penske) and his staff do a great job putting on the Belle Isle races. The atmosphere, the facility, every year it just gets better and better. The weekend is unique with two races, which is tough on the team, but it’s the same for everyone. Obviously, I have had some success there winning a race the last two times we were there (missed 2017 due to injury), but I haven’t really qualified well. That is something we have to work on because qualifying is so important on that circuit. Unfortunately, Indy didn’t go the way we wanted, but the SealMaster Honda No. 18 team has been pretty strong on the street circuits this year. We just need to keep working hard, keep digging and have two strong performances this weekend if we’re going to get back in the championship race.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “It’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to race the No. 19 Paysafe car with Dale Coyne Racing at Detroit, especially that I’ll be coming off an F2 race in Monaco. The goal is still to be a Formula 1 driver but to be racing in INDYCAR is going to be something special. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s just unfortunate that it’s under the circumstances of Pietro (Fittipaldi)'s injuries, I hope he has a speedy recovery and can come back very soon.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Allegiant International Chevrolet): “It’s going to be a very tough weekend physically and mentally as it’s a doubleheader. This will be the first time I have raced a full race distance twice over the course of a weekend, so that is something new I need to prepare for and get my head around. Obviously, all of the circuits I am going to this year are new, but I have driven Detroit on the simulator so hopefully, I can get up to speed quite quickly. There’s always been a bit of a steep learning curve going into a weekend, but overall, it’s been quite good. I am looking forward to another challenge!”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Detroit was my first race with Ed Carpenter Racing back in 2016, so it’s almost an anniversary to go back there! I enjoy the challenges of Belle Isle and I’m excited to have the chance to race there again, especially as it’s Chevrolet’s home track. No doubt it’s going to be a tough weekend with two races coming off a busy month of May, but I know the Fuzzy’s Vodka crew is up for it. Our Indianapolis 500 did not finish quite as we were hoping for, so it’s good to be back in the car this weekend and get back after it!”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “After such a bad start to the season - through no fault of our own most of the time - it feels like we are turning a bit of a corner over the last three races. A lot of that has to do with our luck finally changing, but we’ve been fast as well. Detroit is a place that I’ve always enjoyed going to race. I actually got my first Verizon IndyCar Series win there in 2013, but that was prior to my time with Team Penske. I really want to win here for Roger (Penske), Chevrolet and DXC because of all the efforts that have gone into making this a very important stop on the schedule, especially coming after the Indy 500.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “Back-to-back races after a long month of May is always tough, but we’re really looking forward to going up to Detroit next weekend for two chances for a podium finish. The entire Carlin team has had the drive and work ethic since day one, but I think our time at the Speedway showed the paddock that we belong and we’re here to be competitive. Between weather, the track conditions and the occasional wildlife on track, Belle Isle always throws a curveball at us. I’ll be working hard to adapt quickly and get a good result for the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet Carlin team.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): “Detroit is the first race on the calendar that I’ve never had the opportunity to compete at. I’m really excited to get out on track and learn the course as it’s always put on a great show. It’ll be my first IndyCar double-header as well. We know it’s going to be a tough weekend but my Relay crew and I are ready for the challenge!”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda): “The Verizon IndyCar Series certainly keeps us on our toes. From eight days on -rack in Indianapolis to the streets of Detroit just five days later, we certainly need a different mindset. I have come to really enjoy driving around Belle Isle and it’s an equally important weekend as the Indy 500 in terms of points so we will be looking to capitalize. We’ll have Ruoff Home Mortgage on board this weekend, so hopefully, we can get them another win or two.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We’re heading to Detroit fifth in points, so we’re looking to keep the momentum rolling. There are as many points up for grabs in Detroit as in Indy - it’s a great opportunity for us to continue to build and move forward in the standings. We finished on the podium in Belle Isle a couple times, and we’re really looking to get the DHL team onto the top step.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Fifth Third Bank Honda): “Last year it was an unbelievable journey arriving to Detroit after winning the Indy 500 only having a couple of hours of sleep every day since that moment. Wednesday evening, I got to Detroit and the one thing I made sure of was that I was 100 percent physically prepared because I have seen great, past champions from the 500 struggle in Detroit and I just didn’t want that to be the case for myself so I focused hard on that. We pulled off quite a competitive weekend so I personally have great memories from last year in Detroit. I think I have a great environment with the team who the last few seasons have been incredibly competitive there so I’m really looking forward to going to Detroit. It’s a very challenging track, very bumpy which is opposite from IMS and I think it is a good contrast. The fans are enthusiastic there as well so I am looking forward to it. It’s unfortunate that in both street course events this year we couldn’t achieve the final results but I think we showed great speed and I am sure that we can continue to show the competitiveness. I’m looking forward to the Detroit races.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): “I am so excited to be back in the car after five weeks away. It’s a very important race for Chevrolet as this is their home base. I am thrilled to have their support and to run with their strong engines. We will do our best as a team to make sure we put on a good show and get a good result. I have been training a lot these past few weeks and I feel I am well prepared for this week at Belle Isle.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “Even though we’re just coming off of a long month at IMS and a race that didn’t go our way, we’re looking forward to getting the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet back out on-track on the streets of Belle Isle. Since I started racing here a few years ago, I’ve loved seeing how the city of Detroit gets behind the race and really turns the doubleheader into a huge city-wide event. It’s no secret that these two races make for a long, physical weekend for us as drivers, but with 100 points up for grabs we’ll be laser-focused on making sure we’re as competitive as possible.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “Excited to get going for Detroit weekend here. It’s a very challenging track physically, mentally and technically, so I’m excited to get going there and do a great job to maximize our efforts. This is especially important with it being a doubleheader weekend there’s double points on the line. So we’ll see if we can do a really good job and have a nice result for both races that will really help us get some momentum going after May.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 AutoNation / Curb Honda): “Now that Indy is done, it’s time to switch our focus and get the race win we know we have in the No. 98 machine and we have two good chances to put the AutoNation car up front in Detroit. It will be a physical race after the IMS oval, but we are prepared in every way possible. I love driving the Belle Isle circuit.”