Rushville Republican

June 4, 2013

Detroit wants another double-header

Stewart gets needed Sprint Cup win

Ken de la Bastide
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — The chairman of the Detroit Grand Prix wants to make two races on the same weekend for the IZOD IndyCar Series on Belle Isle an annual event.

IndyCar ran point races on Saturday and Sunday with Mike Conway winning the first race and Simon Pagenaud the second. It was Pagenaud’s first career victory.

Bud Denker said almost 100,000 people made it to Belle Isle on either one or both days and television ratings were up slightly over 2012.

The Detroit Grand Prix committee is planning on improvements to the 2.36 mile street course including re-paving the back straight and to make another passing area between turns 6 and 7.

This was the first of three scheduled back-to-back weekend races for the series. The other two being in Toronto and Houston.

Aside from the fact that there were too many caution periods during Sunday’s race, the weekend did produce some good racing, actually better than I anticipated on the street course.

If sponsorship continues for the two races at Detroit, it should continue to be a part of the IndyCar Series schedule in the future. Coming a week after the Indianapolis 500 and before four consecutive races on ovals, it fits well into the schedule.

The series competes this weekend at the Texas Speedway oval and then returns to the Milwaukee Mile, Iowa Speedway and Pocono before returning to action on street and road courses.

Series officials can’t be displeased with the on-track action thus far. There have been six different winners in seven races with Pagenaud being joined by Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe as first time winners.

What is amazing is that Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing have not scored a victory in 2013. That could only mean there is parity in the ranks.

It was no surprise that J.R. Hildebrand lost his ride after Indianapolis. He crashed on the final lap while leading the Indianapolis 500 in 2011 and crashed this year on the first lap. The team is giving several drivers an opportunity to secure the full-time ride.

In other racing news: Tony Stewart got a much needed victory last weekend at Dover in Sprint Cup action. With the victory Stewart is now a contender for one of the wild card spots in the championship chase, although it will probably take more than one win to secure a wild card.

Stewart’s victory was surprising in the fact that current point leader and five-time champion Jimmie Johnson made two mistakes on a restart with 19 laps remaining.

Johnson was smacked with a drive down pit lane after NASCAR officials ruled he jumped the start and beat leader Juan Pablo Montoya to the starting line.

He compounded the mistake by not surrendering the lead to Montoya and then going on to race for the victory.

• The World of Outlaws will be at Kokomo Speedway tonight. Gates open at 4 p.m. with racing at 7:30 p.m.