Saturday Morning’s Front of Field Breakdown; Race #1 Likely in the Wet

Today’s morning practice showed some good signs for Honda Racing. For a good portion of the session, A.J. Foyt Racing drivers Jack Hawksworth and Takuma Sato ran first and second with Graham Rahal rounding out the top 3.

There was a single red flag for an incident involving the driver of the No. 11 KVSH Racing car, Sebastien Bourdais. He made contact with the tire barrier and unfortunately, was severe enough for a crane to be brought on track in order to remove the vehicle. People I spoke with on pit lane reported that Bourdais had exited the vehicle safely, however.

IMG_20150412_131225_editThe last 7 minutes of green flag practice ended up with a Penske invasion into the front of the field. Castroneves finished practice in P2, Montoya P4 and Simon Pagenaud  finished up the Top 5. The leader of the practice field was Luca Filippi, driver of the No. 20 for CFH Racing on road/street courses. This is a high note for CFH Racing’s weekend, given the struggles that Josef Newgarden has faced, including a red flag-inducing crash with the tire barrier at the end of Qualifying Segment 1, Group 2.

Hondas may not have led the pack at the end of practice, but they were represented as equally as Chevrolets in the front half of the field. Hawksworth has contested on Belle Isle twice, both over the doubleheader weekend last season. He started P3 for Race #1 and led a lap during Race #2. Hawksworth took the fastest Honda title this morning and is looking for his breakthrough moment of 2015. Could Belle Isle be the stage for that moment? It’s very possible. The fact that he has a teammate who is also piloting a quick car for the weekend helps with data and tweaking things to make both of their situations as strong as possible. Hawksworth’s best finish this season is P8, achieved at the season kickoff on the streets of St. Petersburg.

Weather Outlook and Fan Safety

According to Racecast Weather, we are definitely in for a wet race today, with the inclement conditions starting between 2:00pm & 3:00pm ET. Make sure to visit the site for complete details and updates through the race weekend.

“Do expect heavy rainfall at times with dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning. Once it starts, it looks like the main rain event will be with us throughout the remainder of the day.” – Racecast Weather update as of Saturday morning

As I’ve stated in multiple conversations on Twitter today, I have no qualms with Race #1 being in the wet. I think it could actually be cool to have one on a dry track and one of a wet track – it presents the possibility of two very different races and hopefully different front-of-pack contenders each time. The potential problem comes in when we discuss the issue of lightning. We don’t have lightning tires. Yet. Hmm… hey Firestone, there’s an idea for you.

The beautiful weather of the early Saturday at Belle Isle, will soon be nothing-more than a memory.
The beautiful weather of early Saturday at Belle Isle, will soon be nothing-more than a memory.

In the midst of writing this, the National Weather Service has issued an Areal Flood Watch starting at 5:00pm ET today, for 24 hours. Part of the Watch notes, “Thunderstorms later today could quickly produce torrential downpours… potentially leading to localized flash flooding.”

What that all comes down to, is that we want you fans to be safe on Belle Isle today. Bring rain gear with you because you WILL need it. Make a plan – be cognizant of where the nearest shelter is and ask volunteers around your grandstands where you should report in the event of inclement weather. You will see volunteers everywhere at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix – they are wearing bright blue tee shirts and are ready to assist you and keep you safe. If they don’t know the answer to your questions, they’ll find someone that does!

Once you are rain-ready, there is just one last piece of advice I have for you… have fun! Enjoy everything the Dual in Detroit has to offer and take full advantage of the access your tickets or passes provide. Take pictures, enjoy the food, hang out and laugh too loud with friends and family. Life is short and so are race weekends, so make the best of every minute… rain or shine.

I will be covering the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit from Belle Isle, MI all weekend for Live Full Throttle. Stay connected:

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