Two red flags interrupted the Detroit Grand Prix morning practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series. The first of those events was when the No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet of Rene Binder made contact with the Turn 11 tire barrier, 36 minutes in to the session. The AMR Safety Team was able to restart the car and Binder returned to pit lane under his own power.
This is Binder’s third race of the season, having run first at the season opener in St. Petersburg and again at Barber Motorsports Park. His best finish between the two was P16 down in Birmingham, Alabama.
We went back to green very quickly – less than 2 minutes actually. We stayed green for twice that amount of time before Robert Wickens, who ended up P15 in this practice, went off course in Turn 7 and stalled his No. 6 SPM Honda. AMR was quick in their assistance, as always, restarted Wickens and had him on his way to the pits. There were 17 seconds left when we went back to green. IndyCar allowed any drivers that got out of the pits by the end of practice (12:05 p.m. ET) to complete one additional timed lap.
The field did not take that time for granted, ran in traffic nearly the whole time since they all took off at once, and there was even a move by Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda) around Ed Jones (No. 10 Ganassi Honda) that made me catch my breath. The frantic pace looked more like a race than a practice. And if i’m being honest, I hope those quick little maneuvers are a peek into what we can expect this weekend. I don’t know about you guys, but I am excited to see some passing again!
Speaking of… Sebastien Bourdais, in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, passed everyone in the field in regards to lap times. His fast lap of 1:17.8545 was good for the top spot. Bourdais has qualified as well as P6 at Belle Isle, and won the event twice – Race 2 in 2015 and Race 1 in 2016. He sat out last year due to the violent wreck in Indianapolis qualifying that had him in the hospital and rehabilitating for about 3 months. If he can replicate that top practice result this afternoon, he will be able to choose whether his group goes first or second in qualifications tomorrow morning. And having a say at work? Well, that’s always a good thing.