DETROIT – Dual 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on the appropriately named Belle Isle took place under sunny skies which heightened the great atmosphere surrounding the temporary street circuit event.
The race saw myriad fuel strategies but one thing was clear, Conor Daly was racing his way to the front from his 16th starting slot.
As the pit stop strategies began to unfold, Daly who started on blacks and was running a full fuel stint before pitting for fuel and red-rimmed tires, was up to fourth (partly due to others’ pit stops) when he pitted on lap 20.
Carlos Munoz, who started 14th in the ABC Supply Chevrolet, was on an alternate fuel strategy where he pitted early in the fuel stint—lap eight--and shed his red (softer and less durable compound) tires for the black primary tires.
Munoz’s stop dropped him to last while Daly’s stop saw him drop to 14th but as the stops cycled out, he was up to 11th and charging. On lap 25, he radioed in, “I’ve lost power!”
Indeed, he was stopped on course and Charlie Kimball tagged him but caused only minor damage to Daly’s rear bumper. Daly tried to re-fire the engine to no avail so his car was moved off course. Post-race, the team was still assessing the cause but the electronic control unit (ECU) was removed for analysis by the Ilmor engineers.
“I don’t know what happened, the car just died so it’s got to be something electrical,” Daly said. “The ABC Supply car was really good up to that point—it was good on blacks, good on reds and we were just chipping away at it. Hopefully we can go after it tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Daly’s woes brought out the yellow flag initially and then it turned into a full course yellow which messed up his teammate Munoz’s strategy. It turned into a double whammy for the team.
Munoz, who had dropped to 22nd after that early pit stop, was able to make progress through the field…by the time the checkered was waved, Munoz was 14th—or back to where he started.
“The strategy didn’t pay off today—we lost a couple spots with that yellow,” Munoz said. “The car ran okay—much better than qualifying. It was a little more competitive. We need to make some changes to have a good qualifying run tomorrow. Hopefully we are lucky with the strategy. It was a good effort by the ABC Supply team today.”
Graham Rahal won the pole and the race today as he dominated the field. Second through fifth were: Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Joseph Newgarden and Alexander Rossi.
Dual 2 will be broadcast live tomorrow by ABC-TV starting at 3:30 pm EDT.