After the highs of the Month of May, the NTT IndyCar Series returns to action this weekend on the streets of Belle Isle. But, it’s not just a single race weekend on tap – it’s a doubleheader.
In 2013, the series adopted doubleheader weekends. Instead of one race run on a Sunday, there are two races run on both Saturday and Sunday. That year, the venues were Belle Isle, Toronto and Houston. Now, Belle Isle is the only track that remains as a host to doubleheaders.
That in it’s own is a big storyline.
See, it’s not like this is a doubleheader on an oval or a smooth road course. This is a doubleheader on a street circuit. Belle Isle, has one of the bumpiest track surfaces on the schedule. Mix that with the 2.35-mile circuit being one of the most physically demanding on the schedule and throw in the fact that you have to race there twice in as many days, and you get some fatigue.
Then, add to this that the Indianapolis 500 was last weekend, which is a double points event and you now have two full points paying races this weekend, and you have a grueling stretch of races that will certainly shape the points standings the rest of the way.
“Detroit is one of the most challenging weekends of the season,” said defending series champion Scott Dixon. “It’s one of those tough weekends you do all your training for. Two races in two days. Two qualifying sessions in two days. And all that coming right after the dust is settling from the Indianapolis 500. There’s a lot going on and it’s a great event. In seven days the championship can really turn, going from double points in Indy to a double race weekend in Detroit. But that’s what it’s all about, and the PNC Bank team will be up for it.”
Dixon, has banked on solid runs at Belle Isle lately and will try to do so again on Saturday and Sunday. Another Honda driver in James Hinchcliffe agrees with Dixon calling Belle Isle “daunting.”
“The double in Detroit always seems daunting a week after the month of May wraps up, but this year I’m excited to get there,” Hinchcliffe said. “Our May ended with a strong effort by the whole Arrow SPM team, and we want to carry that into Detroit. We’ve had good cars there in the past but don’t seem to have the hardware to show for it, so looking to change that this year.”
From racing on the IMS road course three weeks ago, to configuring the cars to the oval setups for Indy 500 qualifying two weeks ago, to the ‘500 itself last week, to a doubleheader this weekend, it’s a lot on the teams and drivers. That’s what makes Indy Car the best yet most difficult series in the world.