FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 2014 Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit, Race 1

First Impressions, IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on May 31, 2014 6:00 pm
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We’re halfway through the 2014 Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit. Here are More Front Wing’s first impressions of race 1 from the weekend on Belle Isle. Feel free to share your own impressions in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

STEPH’S IMPRESSIONS:

Perhaps my viewpoint was different from trackside, but I was very pleasantly surprised by that race! The battle to the finish between Will Power and Graham Rahal was a thriller, and it always adds an element of interest when the tires throw a wildcard into the discussion (and I’ll say again that it’s a shame it doesn’t happens more often). The resulting fuel strategies that were constantly in flux and the apparently willingness by the drivers to give imperfect passing opportunities a try meant that there was never a dull moment all day.

It’s a shame that the confusion over what will be called a penalty seems to be looming. Aleshin is right to be upset that his day was ruined by a penalty for blocking a car four laps down, and he evidently never received the warning that drivers such as Power and Montoya did. Presumably this has been spelled out for the drivers, but a) it was never spelled out for the rest of us, and b) the drivers still don’t seem to fully get it, either.

And we’ve got less than 24 hours to get those questions answered before they’re all out there doing it again!

Congrats to race winner Will Power and to 4th-place finisher Justin Wilson, who both gained 15 spots over their starting positions to become the biggest movers of the race, and to Chevrolet for winning race 1 in their own house. See you again tomorrow — hope it’s as fun as today was!

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PAUL’S IMPRESSIONS:

During the middle of today’s race, I got a text from MFW’s John Lingle saying “Graham must have listened to the podcast,” referring to our discussion this week on Graham Rahal’s struggles throughout this season and what it was going to take to turn his bad luck around. Apparently he found it. Young Rahal bounced back today with a strong run, good pit strategy, and a little luck to claim a season-best second-place finish, giving Will Power all he could handle in the run to the checkers. Obviously the National Guard driver and crew were well pleased with their efforts and result today.

This was definitely a race that was all about pit sequencing as, based on what portions of the race I was able to see on TV, there were very few opportunities to pass on track. As has been said before, this race track is probably not one that is particularly great to have following the Indianapolis 500 as casual viewers of that event are not likely to be overly excited about watching a street race with little passing that comes down to getting the breaks on the pit strategy. It’s interesting for us hardcore fans, but whether it’s the best way to “set the hook” into the new casual fans should definitely be open for discussion.

All in all, an interesting race, but not what I would call a particularly exciting race. With a number of drivers at the pointy end of the championship standings having troubles, most notably Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud, the standings have tightened up again, and drivers will be pushing even harder tomorrow to avoid taking a double hit to their points on the weekend.

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JOHN’S IMPRESSIONS:

What a great race today, and not just by Belle Isle or street race standards. I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish by the cutthroat action throughout the field. I would have liked to see Graham Rahal win just to mix up the storylines a bit, but hopefully Graham keeps the pace that he showed today for tomorrow’s race.

Will Power earned a hard-fought victory on speed for sure, but the chorus of questions about favoritism from race control might get louder after race one incidents with Simon Pagenaud (contact) and Graham Rahal (blocking) went unpenalized. Will does seem to be able to get away with more than some of the other drivers, and every incident from here on out will only exacerbate those questions.

The Mikhail Aleshin caution once again made my point about the need for on board starters, but hey, the race ending was exciting so I’ll let the topic slide (kind of) until the next race. And I think that’s the best thing about double headers to me — we get to do this all over again tomorrow!

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