Rustbelt Resurgence: Detroit Welcomes Verizon IndyCar Series this Weekend

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Detroit has gone under some major changes the past few years – revamping neighborhoods, investing in the downtown area, not to mention an awesome doubleheader race care of the Verizon IndyCar Series that invades Belle Isle every year. This island has in and of itself, has been completely reborn – from being cleaned and organized to having the entire track surface repaved; it’s one of my favorite events to attend and produces some of the most exciting races.

Let me talk to you for a minute, Detroit. As a native and current resident of Cleveland, OH, I know what it’s like to proudly tell people where you are from and have them reply with salty comments like, “Aw, I’m sorry.” I know you guys get the same kind of snarky remarks but guess what… we are not the ones to feel sorry for. We are the ones in the midst of a renaissance. No one ever wants to live in the house through the renovation, but one thing I know as a rustbelt-kid, is that the hard work and effort is what makes the ends worth the means.

photogrid_1464963835259.jpgDetroit and Cleveland are far from perfect, but what major metropolitan is? That said, whether you are a local or need to make a road trip, I hope you opt to come out to the races this weekend.

In addition to the double-headlining Verizon IndyCar Series on Saturday and Sunday, you will get to witness three classes of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship battle it out Saturday, plus the Trans Am series races on both Saturday and Sunday.

The Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks are also on the island again. You won’t be able to ignore them when they are on the track – these oversized toy trucks hit ramps, get major air, drift through turns on two wheels, partake in “rubbin’ is racing”, and put on one heck of a show in general. If you’ve never seen them in person, grab a drink and a bite to eat, find a spot with a ramp in view and prepare to smile and laugh for the duration of their track time and all three of their races – one each day here on Belle Isle.

Familiar Faces Return to the Paddock

Gabby Chaves is back with Dale Coyne Racing this weekend after finishing P20 in the Indianapolis 500 this past weekend and P17 earlier in May at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. It’s good to see his sophomore season picking up steam. Chaves ran a full-season with Bryan Herta Autosport in 2015, after claiming the Indy Lights Championship title in 2014. You’ll see him in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda this weekend, sponsored by Boy Scouts of America as he looks to top his best series finish of P9, which just so happened to be achieved right here in Detroit in 2015.

Spencer Pigot was announced as the driver for the remainder of the 2016 season road and street courses, for the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy sponsored by Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka. Pigot will round out the field to 22 cars, giving us 11 rows of 2 for the IndyCar doubleheader weekend. Pigot completed three contests this season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the two races that make up the Month of May were his guaranteed entries this season after winning the Indy Lights Championship in 2015. Pigot is one of the up-and-coming drivers that has a big open-wheel career in front of him, so I like seeing teams investing in him for an extended set of contests. Kudos to RLL for giving him his initial shot in IndyCar and to ECR for picking him up and allowing him to showcase his talent the remainder of the year.

A Race Car of a Different Color

There are some other changes this weekend but these are livery-related:

Helio Castroneves is moving on from the “Yelio Submarine” with Team Penske to a familiar black-and-white Hitachi livery for the No. 3 Chevy.

Graham Rahal changes from the already-iconic red Steak ‘n Shake livery to a black and blue United Rentals and Mi-Jack scheme on the No. 15 RLL Honda.

The No. 18 DCR entry of Conor Daly transitions from the red, white and blue “America” paint job, back to his green and black look from earlier this year.

The series point leader, Simon Pagenaud dresses the No. 22 Penske Chevy in a slick white and black suit with green wings at front and back for Hewlett Packard Enterprises.

Carlos Munoz, the ‘500’ bridesmaid as it seems, dons a Magnetti Marelli livery in blue and white on his No. 26 Honda – make sure you note the tri-colored front wings representative of the Colombian flag. He won here on Belle Isle last year and is looking to repeat that success this weekend.

Munoz’ stealthy United Fiber & Data look from May moves over to his Andretti Autosport teammate, Marco Andretti’s No. 27 Honda in a lighter blue and white combination.

The other change worth noting is that Charlie Kimball is back to the No. 83 on his Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Verizon IndyCar Series track times at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans:
Friday, June 3: Practice #1 – 10:45 a.m.; Quals for Dual #1 – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 4: Practice #2 – 10:05 a.m.; Dual #1 – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 5: Systems Check – 8:45 a.m.; Quals for Dual #2 – 10:45 a.m.; Dual #2 – 3:30 p.m.

Both Duals will be broadcast live on ABC. Practices and qualifications will be livestreamed via IndyCar – all information and links for that and radio coverage is available here.

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