Graham Rahal effectively led all the way on his way to victory in the opening race of IndyCar’s Detroit Grand Prix double-header.
Rahal headed Scott Dixon and James Hinchliffe for a Honda sweep of the podium, while Will Power finished 18th.
Hinchcliffe’s race actually began poorly, necessitating a Caution when he spun just two corners into proceedings.
Rahal, starting from a track record pole, ran in first position until he made his first pit stop on Lap 22 of 70, temporarily dropping as low as fifth before the lead came back to him on Lap 36.
The #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry pitted again on Lap 48 and held an advantage of as much as 9s on the run home as he became the seventh different winner in as many races this season.
Dixon, who qualified sixth, made one position due to Hinchcliffe’s early spin and stayed there through his first and second stints before emerging second after his final pit stop.
The Chip Ganassi driver made time on Rahal in the final 20 laps but couldn’t get close enough to create a genuine contest.
Nevertheless, the New Zealander regained the overnight championship lead, just six days after experiencing a horrific, high-flying crash during the Indianapolis 500.
Hinchcliffe was one of many to employ a three-stop strategy after his early setback, and the Schmidt Peterson driver was back mixing it with the front-runners midway through the race as he pressured Alexander Rossi for second.
Car #5 couldn’t get past the #98 Andretti Autosport Honda, but shook out in third for the final stint and ultimately held off Josef Newgarden, who had to settle for fourth for Team Penske.
Rossi finished fifth, ahead of Mikhail Aleshin (Schmidt Peterson Honda), previous points leader Helio Castroneves (Penske Chevrolet), Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato (Andretti Honda), Ed Jones (Dayle Coyne Honda), and Spencer Pigot (Ed Carpenter Chevrolet).
Power, who started 12th in the #12 Penske Chevrolet, ended up off the lead lap in 18th as he opted for two pit stops.
Conor Daly (AJ Foyt Chevrolet) was the only non-finisher after a mid-race coming-together with Charlie Kimball (Ganassi Honda).
The field will qualify again on Sunday (local time) for another 70-lap race, starting at Monday 0545 AEST.
Results: Detroit Grand Prix Race 1
|Pos||Driver||Grid||C/A/E/T||Laps||Race time, gap||Laps led||Status||Pit stops|
|9||Ed Jones (R)||21||D/H/H/F||70||+53.6531||–||Running||2|
|18||Will Power||11||D/C/C/F||69||+1 lap||–||Running||2|
|19||Esteban Gutierrez (R)||19||D/H/H/F||69||+1 lap||–||Running||2|
|20||Oriol Servia||22||D/H/H/F||69||+1 lap||–||Running||4|
|21||Charlie Kimball||10||D/H/H/F||69||+1 lap||–||Running||4|
|22||Conor Daly||16||D/C/C/F||25||+45 laps||–||Mechanical||1|
(C)hassis: D=Dallara | (A)erokit: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)yre: F=Firestone