“Fallin’ too fast to prepare for this.”
That’s a line from one my favorite Imagine Dragons songs. It made me smirk as it played in my ears when I sat down to write just now. It’s been a day so far, you guys. But hey, that’s life.
You’re not always ready for things, even when you try to prepare to the best of your abilities. There are always elements that come into play that you couldn’t have predicted. You have to be ready for anything, roll with the punches as it were. You adapt, you problem-solve, you make decisions, you delegate, and you get through it.
If you’re a usual reader of mine, you know I love the parallels between life and racing. This is another one.
This is one of those weekends where inspiration strikes when it strikes, preparation is usually minimal given the month of May that we just wrapped on, days prior. I come into it as best I could, ready to work and ready to produce content for you folks. I’m not your typical writer covering the Verizon IndyCar Series. I never have been. I don’t want to be.
Graham Rahal said something very relate-able yesterday,
“…Actually this weekend is energizing because I know May is done, and I literally — come Tuesday after the banquet, I’m a new man. I love May, I love what the 500 is, what it stands for, but it wears me out. And this year I had no time to do anything in life, and I just — it’s hard to live that way and not get frustrated or run down or whatever. This weekend is kind of a breath of fresh air for me. So I’m excited to be here.”
PREACH! Those words resonated with a lot of us and I have a feeling they might resonate with you guys as well.
It’s a great observation on Rahal’s part – while we are coming off the exhaustion of May, the Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear weekend doesn’t give you the down time you might be craving. Sure, it’s that fresh air that he mentioned, but it’s not still air. It’s rushing. The preparation by all parties is as solid as it can be, with a lack of sleep and travel components taken into account. Detroit GP weekend shows no mercy – it throws you directly into 3 days of constant track action, with a double dose of IndyCar each day. And no one is complaining, I can promise you that much.
Sebastien Bourdais led the field in morning practice and Ryan Hunter-Reay took those honors for the afternoon.
Preparing the track for an event like this, is just as important as the driver’s preparing their bodies for the stresses of the race, and the teams preparing data that will give them insight and allow them to learn as they go. That notion of track prep is not lost on Hunter-Reay, and he gave props to Roger Penske on the development of this course over the double-header years:
“The track actually, they’ve done a great job with it. Penske has put on a great show here, and they’ve really brought this track a long way from where it was even four years ago, massive amounts. The braking zones are all really nice, and the passing opportunities are there. It’s about everything you can ask for in a street course.”
The No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport definitely seems to be meshing well with the changes, because it came out on top Friday, giving Hunter-Reay the decision-making rights for which group he wants to run for qualifying. He chose Group 2, taking his teammate Marco Andretti with him. Andretti ran the No. 98 AutoNation Honda into P5 for the day. The entire Andretti Autosport crew was within the Top 8 with Alexander Rossi running 4th quick with his newly livered No. 27 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda and Zach Veach in 8th, piloting the No. 26 Relay Group One Thousand And One Honda. Rossi and Veach will kick off qualifying attempts in Group 1 this morning.
The benefit of running in Group 2 is that you know exactly where the bar has been set and therefore, know precisely what number you are trying to beat. There are two Detroit polesitters in that group today, so they know the advantageous position, all too well. Simon Pagenaud swept the weekend’s pole positions in 2016 and will attempt to get his first of 2018 today, in the No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet. Pagenaud had a best practice lap time of 1:16.7888 yesterday, which placed him 7th quickest overall. Takuma Sato, in the No. 30 Fifth Third Bank RLL Honda, ran midpack with a P13-worthy time on Friday. He won the Detroit Grand Prix pole last year for Race 2.
And this is Detroit, so that ‘no mercy’ rule continues into Sunday when we reverse the qualifying groups and race all over again. You’re welcome.
For a full explanation of the qualifying format of the Detroit Grand Prix, check out my piece from yesterday that breaks it all down.