Race Preview: Streets of Detroit



Posted on 06/01/2023

Race Preview: Streets of Detroit

Chip Ganassi Racing will venture to the new downtown street circuit in Detroit, Michigan, positioned first and second in the points standings in hot pursuit of their 15th INDYCAR SERIES championship. 

Alex Palou and the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants team lead the series in points (219), while teammate Marcus Ericsson and the No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz team rank second (199). Palou and Ericsson have demonstrated tremendous consistency, as they have each posted a top-10 finish in all six races this season, something no one had done since 2018. 

Scott Dixon and the No. 9 PNC Bank team are also primed for title contention, sitting fifth with 162 points. 

Marcus Armstrong will return to race in the No. 11 American Legion Honda, where his most recent street course event (Long Beach) yielded a P8 result. 

While this will be the first time the series will compete on the new 1.7-mile, 10-turn street course, CGR does have a history of success racing in Detroit. The team has secured five wins (2021; 2019; 2018; 2012; 1998) and four pole positions (2012; 2008; 2000; 1999) previously in the Motor City. 

NBC and Peacock will again carry coverage of the INDYCAR action, with Sunday’s 70-lap race kicking off on NBC at 3 p.m. ET.

Alex Palou – No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda

“I’m very excited for Detroit after a really positive month for the whole team, but especially the 10 car. We just had really good results and we’ve been really competitive. I can’t wait to try and get the best result of the season on a street course. Looking forward to the new track and it will be challenging for all the drivers and teams. Nobody has any information other than what we’ve learned from the simulator. It’s looking challenging, but we love challenges, and we’re looking forward to that.”

Palou has been in top form to start the year, recording results of P8 (St. Pete), P3 (Texas), P5 (Long Beach), P5 (Barber), P1 (Indy GP) and P4 (Indianapolis). 

He is the only driver in the field to boast five top-5 finishes on the year, which he has been able to record in each of the past five races.

Palou and the No. 10 team impressed throughout the Month of May, winning the GMR Grand Prix by 16.8006 seconds and then setting a new qualifying record at the Indianapolis 500 with a four-lap average speed of 234.217 mph. 

Marcus Ericsson – No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda

“I’m very excited to get to Detroit with the new track, which will be super cool. Street courses have been good to us so far this year, winning in St. Petersburg and then the podium in Long Beach. I know we’re going to have a good package for this street course. I think INDYCAR has done a great job building up the hype around Detroit. Obviously, we’re coming off a strong month of May, so we have a lot of motivation to go and try to win this race. It’s going to be a good weekend.”

Ericsson has displayed a serious appetite for a championship challenge to kick off the 2023 season. He has earned a top-10 finish in all six races thus far, including a win (St. Petersburg) and three total podium finishes (P3 – Long Beach; P2 – Indianapolis 500).

He holds 3 street course race wins (St. Petersburg 2023; Nashville 2021; Belle Isle 2021) under his belt since joining CGR in 2020, the most by any driver in that span. 

Scott Dixon – No. 9 PNC Bank Honda

"Going back downtown obviously and I have a bit of mixed feelings as Belle Isle was such a favorite among the drivers. But looking forward to the new downtown circuit, kind of going back to the old Grand Prix days. A new track and a new venue is always exciting. Looking forward to getting on to this first race after the Indianapolis 500 and getting some momentum going.”

While it will be a new track layout as the series moves downtown, Dixon has reached victory lane three times previously in Detroit (2019 Race #2; 2018 Race #1; 2012), tied for the most among all drivers. 

Nonetheless, Dixon has been on a tear across street course tracks. While he was unfortunately forced to retire early at the Grand Prix of Long Beach in April, he had recorded 14 consecutive top-8 finishes prior to that result. 

Dixon was the only driver to claim multiple wins at street course races last year (Toronto; Nashville). He led more laps (82) in last year’s street course races than any other driver in the field.

Marcus Armstrong – No. 11 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda

"It’s going to be a hot weekend, which I actually like because I feel I deal with the heat inside the car quite well. Obviously with the track, it’s a bit of an unknown. I’ve seen the track just a bit walking around, and it looks to be challenging and quite bumpy in some areas. It’s going to provide some challenges and a lot of options on race lines. In general, I like the layout of the circuit and think the racing will be quite good with a big, long straight into a tight left hand. It’s going to be fun.”

Armstrong has exhibited a remarkable knack for navigating traffic, generating a net gain of +17 positions from the start to finish of his four races thus far, the fourth-most positions gained among the field. 

He remains the leading rookie driver with 77 points despite racing in only road and street course races.