Hitting the Apex: Detroit Grand Prix

IndyCar returns to the streets of Detroit! ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at Detroit Grand Prix this weekend.

Eline Luna

May 31, 2024

Just a week after the Indy 500, IndyCar returns to Detroit, a city the series has raced in for over 30 years. Since 1992 the series has raced at a temporary circuit on Belle Isle, an island in the Detroit River, for the Detroit Grand Prix. However last year, the race returned to its original home on the streets of downtown Detroit for the first time since 1991.

While a small part of the original 2.5-mile track is incorporated, most of the layout is new. Only two of the original corners are repurposed for the new circuit, which also makes it significantly smaller than the original layout of 22 corners.

 

© James Black/Penske Entertainment

 

The track is characterized by its mostly 90-degree corners which could prove tricky for the drivers. Another important aspect to look out for is the starting line. The start line and the finish line are situated at different parts of the track. The finish line is on the straight parallel to the pitlane while the starting line is on the long straight right before Turn 3. The Turn 3 hairpin will be able to create many overtaking opportunities as the long starting straight will have drivers blasting down the streets before having to slam on the brakes to get through the next corner.

The Pitlane

An IndyCar pitlane is typically around 1000 feet in length. However, this weekend it is unique in the fact that the pitlane will only be 500 feet. This means half of the grid will be served on the right side of the pitlane and the other half on the left.

The pitlane setup will likely create tense moments as cars will try to merge back into the fast lane from both sides. While this could mean positions are easily gained, some may also be lost during the pit cycle, creating a need for interesting strategies.

Championship Fight

With 5 races ran so far, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Álex Palou leads the championship by 20 points over teammate Scott Dixon. Palou will be aiming to extend his championship lead at the track he won at last year. Team Penske’s Will Power trails Scott Dixon by only 6 points despite crashing out at the Indy 500 last week.

Álex Palou at the 2023 Detroit GP (© James Black/Penske Entertainment)

Power’s teammate, Josef Newgarden won the Indy 500 for the second time in a row last weekend. This feat saw him re-enter the top 10 in the championship for the first time since he was disqualified from the St. Pete race.

Driver Changes:

Tristan Vautier will drive Dale Coyne Racing’s #51 this weekend. He last raced in IndyCar in 2017, when he replaced DCR’s Sébastien Bourdais at Texas.

Meyer Shank Racing also announced Tom Blomqvist will be replaced by Hélio Castroneves in the #66 car. Blomqvist crashed out of the Indy 500 last weekend on the first lap, taking two cars with him.

Track Layout:

Race Info:

  • Race Length: 100 Laps | 164.5 Miles
  • Turns: 9
  • Track Length: 1.645 miles (2.647 km)
  • Most Wins (on current layout): Álex Palou (1)
  • Race lap record:01:01.941 (Kyle Kirkwood, 2023)

Past Winners

  • 2023: Álex Palou 
  • 2022: Will Power (Old Venue)
  • 2021: Pato O’Ward (Old Venue)
  • 2021: Marcus Ericsson (Old Venue)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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