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Preview: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix

Written by Dan Jones, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

The IndyCar circuit will have familiar motorsport scenery

As the sun sets on yet another captivating and thrilling Indianapolis 500, the IndyCar roadshow continues, as a whole new challenge is presented to the 27 drivers in the field. The action shifts from the 230+ mph rollercoaster that is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to the new, twisty and narrower Streets of Detroit, as IndyCar heads downtown for the first time, after over twenty years on the iconic Belle Isle Circuit.

And one man heads into Detroit with all the media interest of the world, but all the pressure of his shoulders. That Man? Josef Newgarden, winner of the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500, after he overtook Marcus Ericsson on Lap 200 of 200 to claim his first Indianapolis 500 title, and etch his name on the Borg-Warner trophy. It’s been a long time coming for Josef Newgarden,

comfortably the best oval driver in the field, and has taken him twelve attempts, but the pressure is finally relieved off Newgarden, who can firmly start putting himself in the GOAT debate.

Finally, Newgarden can be considered an IndyCar great. Credit: James Gilbert via Getty Images

But on the other side of that equation is Marcus Ericsson. The man who won it on the final lap last year, but had it snatched away from him this year. Ericsson branded the final red flag ‘unfair,’ as drivers went straight to green after coming out of the pits. How will Ericsson respond to his coming into Detroit, will he be more aggressive? Will he make his feelings more clear? We will have to wait and see.

Santino Ferrucci was the surprise package of the month at Indianapolis, and although oval form doesn’t translate to road and street form, the subsequent morale boost for the struggling A.J. Foyt Racing is exactly what they need to turn their form around. Alex Palou’s chances of winning we

re dashed by Rinus VeeKay in the pits at Indianapolis, with the Spaniard somehow recovering to 4th. Palou remains comfortably in the lead of the standings still, and whether he will keep up his consistent nature in Detroit remains to be seen. Maybe the man to keep an eye on the most though, is Pato O’Ward. O’Ward looked destined for victory at the 500, until he dived up the inside of Marcus Ericsson. Ericsson turned in on the Mexican, spinning the Arrow McLaren into the wall, and out of the Indianapolis 500. O’Ward said ‘He comes with me next time,’ referring to going all-out at Marcus Ericsson, and we could have fireworks next time they’re together on track. Will O’Ward take a calmer approach after his misfortunes in both Long Beach and Indianapolis, or stay his aggressive self?

O'Ward was livid at Ericsson after their crash. Credit: Michael Conroy/AP Photo

Let’s look forward to Detroit, and being a new circuit, it is one of unknowns and excitement. The same streets actually hosted Formula One between 1982 and 1988, but let’s look at the adjusted circuit we will see IndyCars fly by in 2023. The first two corners are two 90-degree left-handers, likely to have close barriers on either side, similar to the Turn 1 and 2 Complex at the Baku City Circuit. Similarly to Baku, Detroit will then feature a very long straight, where the drivers will roll on to start Sunday’s race, before a double 90 degree left hander at Turn 3

Herta dominated the last new circuit at Nashville. Credit: Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

. A short-run follows up to turn 4, another 90-degree corner, before another 90 degree left-hander at Turn 5. Turns 6 and 7 are the only non-90 degree corners on the circuit, with a 45-degree kink to the right, immediately followed by a 45-degree kink to the left. A little run into Turn 8 brings a 90 degree corner to the left, before a final 90-degree corner at Turn 9 finishes the lap.

A circuit which does like a 90 degree corner, but possesses a unique feature. This can be found in the form of the pitlane, where instead of 27 pit boxes all in a line, the pitlane is split into two! This means half the drivers will turn left into their pit box, and the other half will go right, making it a split pitlane, which can always cause some drama!

But who to look out for in Detroit? Having not raced here before, it’s hard to say. However, Andretti Autosport have been insanely quick on street courses so far this season. Romain Grosjean looked destined to win in St. Petersburg until he collided with Scott McLaughlin, with Grosjean and winner Kyle Kirkwood the runaway pair in Long Beach. However, out of all those in the Andretti camp, Colton Herta might be the one to look out for the most. Herta is a street course specialist, and he was dominant at Nashville in 2021, when the circuit appeared on the calendar for the first time, until he crashed out! Detroit might possess a similar challenge, and although it might not have the chaos of Nashville, who’s to say Herta can’t turn it up again on the streets. On the flip side, championship contenders Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward have never fared too well on street circuits, particularly the ones having even tighter walls such as Toronto or Nashville, and could be an interesting factor coming into play this weekend, as the championship battle hots up after the Indy 500.

But looking at the championship standings, Palou still remains in the lead of the standings, with a 20 point gap to Marcus Ericsson in second, with both Palou and Ericsson finishing in the top 10 at all events this season. O’Ward lies 14 points behind Ericsson, with Newgarden’s Indy 500 win putting him right back in the Championship hunt, just three points from O’Ward.

Looking slightly outside the leading pack, Scott Dixon sits 5th, followed by Scott McLaughlin, Alexander Rossi, Romain Grosjean, Will Power and Colton Herta rounding out the top 10. All those drivers will be hoping to increase that post-Detroit, with all of the mentioned drivers being more than capable at fighting at the front.

But there we are, a new challenge for our 27 drivers to face, and a bit of a relaxation compared to the force that is the Indianapolis 500. However, the fresh Streets of Detroit will be a completely different game to the drivers, and who will find the wall, but who will be crowned victorious on the Streets of Detroit? The streets of Detroit will certainly give us the answer to this question, come Sunday.


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