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IndyCar Detroit

Detroit street track “really came alive” during IndyCar race

Leading IndyCar drivers say the new Detroit street course “came alive” during Sunday’s inaugural race in its downtown location.

After receiving criticism following practice and qualifying, including from pole winner Alex Palou saying it was “too tight” and too short” for IndyCars, the post-race opinion had mellowed towards the 1.645-mile layout.

“It was a really fun race,” said Palou. “It was a lot better than I expected. We had a lot more grip today than what we did [before]. I think the track evolved a lot during the weekend.

“Hopefully we can tweak some stuff and make it even better for next year.”

Palou reckoned that a full support race package, which included Indy NXT, Trans-Am and IMSA Pilot Challenge GS machinery, helped the racing surface evolve through the weekend.

“The track kept evolving with our sessions and with other series,” he said. “You could see the driving lane, it was black, all full of rubber.

“That allowed for some more overtaking. I was able to pass some cars that were a lap down or on the back. I was able to pass Will [Power]. He was able to pass me, as well.

“I thought there was going to be zero passes, honestly, without a crash. Obviously, we had quite a lot of yellows, but everywhere you go, if there's a street course, you're going to have a lot of drama.”

Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist, who finished third, said: “I think the track really came alive during the race. It seems like this track, as you do more laps it gets grippier and grippier, more than other street courses.

“The steering was heavy, you're carrying a lot of speed. Even on full tanks, we were doing like qualifying lap times. I think it was a cool challenge and awesome show for everyone.”

One immediate change that drivers have called for is a repave of the 0.7-mile Jefferson Avenue, as the bumps made it tricky for cars to run side-by-side towards the best overtaking spot at the Turn 3 hairpin.

“I think it would help,” said Palou. “There's big bumps on the right side, so it's quite easy to just go on the left and defend. When you go on the right, you lose a little bit of speed by just touching [the floor]. That's why it made it more difficult.”

Team Penske’s Will Power agreed: “[From a] racing perspective, having that long straight with the hairpin is definitely good. I think next year if they resurface the second half of the straight you would have more passing. It was tough to go on the outside.”

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