IndyCar – Chevy Beats Honda in Final Belle Isle Race

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on IndyCar - Chevy Beats Honda in Final Belle Isle Race

Belle Isle was a contest of strategies and speed. Tires and track position were key to an all green flag non-stop race.

Will Power driving a Chevy-powered Dallara for Team Penske won the final Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle on Sunday before the street festival moves downtown in 2023.

It was the first victory for Power in 2022, the 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner. Leading a non-stop, green-flag race for 55 laps, Power took the checkered flag just 1.0027 seconds ahead of second place Alexander Rossi in a Honda-powered Dallara who was charging hard on better rubber using a three-stop strategy, versus Power’s two-stop gamble. Taking the Third podium spot was Scott Dixon in a Honda Dallara, also on a two-stop strategy.

The victory put Power, who has been with Chevy power for ten years, back in the points lead (Chevy Dallara 255 pts) by three points over Indy 500 winner (double points at Indy) Marcus Anderson (Honda Dallara 252 pts) and Pato O’Ward (Honda Dallara 243 pts). (AutoInformed.com: Aussie Will Power Wins the 102nd Indianapolis 500 for Penske)

Belle Isle was as much a contest of strategies: three stints, one with Red tires that are soft and sticky and faster, but quickly degrading tires; or using the Black more durable racing rubber for two or three pit-stops. 

Nonetheless, driving skill played a key role in preserving the tires and conserving fuel. Team Penske opted for the different strategy to try to help Power gain track position on the bumpy, narrow temporary street circuit from his 16th starting position. Power drove the final 20 laps on Firestone alternate “red” tires, which initially have more grip but lose traction quickly with time. Rossi was on the more durable and consistent Firestone primary “black” tires for his final stint.

“I drove it as straight as I could,” Power said about his tire preservation strategy over the last 20 laps. “I never put any slip (angle) into it. I was just driving it really straight and really nice on the brakes and the throttle. I knew if I could keep a reasonable gap until the end, we’d be OK.”

Power was up to it, but his red tires were losing grip toward the end. If the race had gone a lap longer? There were a circuit-record 280 total on-track passes, with 148 of them for position. Fifty-nine passes were in the top 10, with 23 in the top five. The previous record for total on-track passes at the Belle Isle circuit was 222 (2021 Race 1).

The victory for Power  – the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series Champion – is the 100th win for the Chevrolet 2.2-liter twin turbo direct injected V6 purpose built INDYCAR engine. Chevrolet now leads the manufacturers championship battle 595 points to 542 for Honda. (AutoInformed.com: IndyCar – Honda Takes Manufacturers’ Title at Laguna Seca)

At Belle Isle, Power regained the series points lead. During 2022 the top of the standings  has changed for the fifth consecutive race. this season. Entering Detroit, Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) held it, and before that Power was at the top.

Fifty-four points are available at each of the standard points-paying races, and six drivers are within that margin. Behind Power are Ericsson (-3), O’Ward (-12), Alex Palou (-14), Newgarden (-43) and Dixon (-53). Four of them are past series champions and three have won the 500. (AutoInformed.com: Palou Driving a Honda is 2021 IndyCar Series Champion)

Next on the calendar for Chevrolet in the NTT IndyCar Series is June 10-12, 2022 at Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

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