Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP Inc.

Friday Detroit IndyCar Musings

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit is the only doubleheader race weekend for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season and much went on at the Belle Isle circuit on Friday.

First, McLaren brass were at the track evaluating a future IndyCar program. Although no announcements have been made about a program, this is a positive sign for IndyCar as it attempts to bring in more manufacturers to compete.

There were two practice sessions on Friday and in the first session it was a Honda party up front. Sebastien Bourdais led an eight car armada of Honda cars at the top of the lap chart with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 17.8545 seconds. Scott Dixon was second and 2017 Detroit winner Graham Rahal was third. Rahal swept both races in Detroit last year. Nine of the top 12 cars are Honda powered.

Also of note, Santino Ferrucci was sixth on the time sheet. The Formula 2 and Haas F1 development driver is racing the No. 19 entry for Dale Coyne Racing.

There were two red flags in the first session, the first being for Juncos Racing driver Rene Binder hitting the tire barrier in Turn 11 and the second for Robert Wickens going into the Turn 7 runoff.

In the second session, it was still Honda dominated but the highest Chevrolet was fourth instead of ninth. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fastest with a lap of 1 minute, 16.3598 seconds. Dixon was second and James Hinchcliffe was third. Hinchcliffe is coming back from not qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 and is working with a new race engineer for the rest of the season.

Ferrucci was 18th in the second session while Wickens was the fastest rookie in session two in ninth place.

The fastest Chevrolet was Josef Newgarden and Honda had 10 of the top 13 positions on the time sheet in the second session. There were two red flags in the second session with Jordan King and Tony Kanaan hitting barriers but both drivers were okay.

In 2017, all manufacturer race weekends were swept by the opposite manufacturer. It’s looking like that may happen again in 2018.

The first race of two is Saturday with the ABC broadcast starting at 3:30 p.m. ET. Race two is at the same time on Sunday. This will be the final race weekend ABC will broadcast under the current television contract.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.