Farewell to the Belle- Detroit Preview

Today’s Schedule:

Friday, June 3, 2022 – Comerica Bank Free Prix Day
7:30 a.m. Gates open
8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – Practice 1 (DPi/GTD)
9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. GM Car Corral Track Laps
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Masters Endurance Legends USA – Practice
11:20 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Promoter Pace Car Ride Session (BCBSM Pit Lane)
12:05 p.m. – 2:05 p.m. IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – Practice 2 (DPi/GTD)
2:25 p.m. – 3:10 p.m. Indy Lights Series Presented by Cooper Tires – Practice Session
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. NTT INDYCAR SERIES – Practice 1 Peacock
4:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. Masters Endurance Legends USA – Qualifying Session
5:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Qualifying (GTD – Silver/Bronze only)
5:55 p.m. – 6:10 p.m. IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Qualifying (DPi – any driver)
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Live Entertainment – The Verve Pipe (new stage location across from Autotrader Winner’s Circle)

This weekend marks the end of an era for Indycar, as the NTT Indycar Series runs its final race on Belle Isle.This is a race I used to not like. I didn’t like the track, I didn’t like the races it produced, and the first time I came to Belle Isle in 2014, I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

Since that time, I have come to appreciate the Island and the track. The racing has improved the last few years. The event itself has grown up as well. The Penske organization has contributed millions to improving the venue. The State of Michigan took control of Belle Isle from the City if Detroit a few years ago. The improvement has been noticeable.

The race has seen torrential rains, snow flurries, and broken pavement. Overall, it’s been a fun, though sometimes frustrating run.

Next year the race moves to the streets of downtown Detroit. I hope to see maps of the new course this weekend, I am not thrilled with waht I have previously seen. Some clarification would be nice.

Points Battle

The top four in points- Marcus Ericsson, Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou, aqnd Will Power- are separated by just 24 points. A bad race by one of of them will be costly. Indianapolis 500 Ericsson will try to break the 500 winner’s jinx at the race after Indy. O’Ward and Ericsson each won a race at Belle isle in 2021.

Josef Newgarden needs a strong showing to climb back intoi title contention. He is 52 points behind. While a win would help a lot, Newgarden’s main objective is to finish ahead of the four drivers inb front of him.

Penske Rebound?

Team Penske did not have a strong Indianapolis 500. The team won the first three races of the year, but has been mostly silent since. Belle Isle is the team’s home race. They have performed well here in the past, and the team needs a strong showing this weekend.

Dixon Redemption?

Scott Dixon has won three times on the island. His unforced error on the last pit stop last Sunday might be the push he needs to get his 52nd Indycar win. Dixon doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody, but it is unusual to see him go nearly 14 months without winning a race.

Tires and Timing

The race at Belle Isle comes down to having the correct tires on the car at the correct time. In 2021 Newgarden looked to have made the corredt choice to start on primaries, but a caution caution caused him to make his last pit stop for alternates earlier than he had planned. The tires did not last and O’Ward passed him for the win.

When the caution flags fall greatly sdeetermines pit strategy on this track. Some teams will pit early in hopes of avoiding getting caught out by a yellow flag. Some are not so fortunate. The pit strategy that has been in play the last few years have made this race fascinating.