AS IT HAPPENED
A clean start for polesitter Pato O’Ward who got a nice jump on Alexander Rossi to lead Lap 1 with a 1.0s margin. It was halved by Lap 3 as a number of drivers, including Ryan Hunter-Reay, Jack Harvey, and a Scott McLaughlin on a slow stop, traded their Firestone reds for primaries. O’Ward pitted at the end of the lap to do the same; among the top 12, only Scott Dixon started on primaries.
Rossi, inheriting the lead, continued circulating on reds as Dixon, starting in P11, was up to P6 with a mix of passing and cars ahead stopping. Josef Newgarden, who pitted on Lap 5 with Colton Herta, slowed with a missing left-rear wheel nut; Rossi pitted for primaries on Lap 6. Hunter-Reay returned to the pits with broken left-rear suspension after hitting the wall and Newgarden got to pit lane, only to have his left-rear wheel part ways with the car. With a new tire installed, he returned in P24, one lap down, but ahead of the stationary Hunter-Reay.
Ed Jones was next to take the lead as more drivers pitted for reds, but by Lap 9, he was demoted to P4 as Will Power, Takuma Sato, and Dixon held the top three. O’Ward and Rossi were first among the early stoppers buried in the midfield in P14 and P15.
Dixon took P2 from Sato on Lap 11 entering Turn 1. Jimmie Johnson pitted on the same lap with a drive issue. Rossi overtook O’Ward on Lap 12 to take P13, and before the end of the lap, Dixon claimed P1 from Power. Rossi continued his march forward to grab P11 before Lap 12 was done. Alex Palou, starting last and also opening his day on primary tires, was up to P12 as O’Ward fell back to P14.
GREEN! GREEN! GREEN!
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) June 12, 2021
Dixon, by Lap 16, was 7.7s clear of Power as those who stayed out on reds were starting to suffer. Jones pitted on the same lap after falling from P4 to P13. Felix Rosenqvist was a solid P4 behind Dixon, Power, and Sato. By Lap 17, Dixon was up to 8.9s over Power. James Hinchcliffe was P5, 12.4s arrears to Dixon. Sato and Rosenqvist pitted on Lap 19 for his primaries. The gap between Dixon and Power was 12.0s on Lap 20; Rossi was up to P6 and O’Ward was P8, chasing Graham Rahal.
Power stopped to go onto primaries on Lap 21, as did Grosjean. Max Chilton arrived on pit lane on Lap 22 with a flat left-rear tire and a broken toe link. Rinus VeeKay was in moments later for a routine stop that appeared to take longer than desired.
Dixon’s tires were starting to lose their effectiveness as his lap times fell by nearly a half-second to those chasing him on primaries of a similar age. The first caution of the event came on Lap 25 when Rosenqvist made heavy contact at Turn 6 as his car went to full throttle at a point where he would have been slowing on entry to the long back straight. Launched through the tire barrier, the car slammed nose-first into the concrete barrier and rode upward, nearly going over the catch fencing, but fortunately, the car was retained.
In-car footage showed the Swede was grimacing in pain as the AMR Safety Team piled onto the car to extract the 29-year-old. The red flag was waved on Lap 28 at 2:46 p.m. ET. Cars fired at 4:04 p.m. ET and most of the leaders stopped for fuel and tires at the end of the first pace lap.
The green flag is back out for the @detroitgp.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) June 12, 2021
Their stops promoted Power to the lead and Ericsson to second; Dixon fell to P11 as the leader of the group that pitted. After Ericsson, it was Sato, Pagenaud, VeeKay, and Jones completing the top six. Contact exiting the pits between Herta and Palou left Herta’s car with a slight misalignment in the steering. The green flag waved on Lap 32 and Dixon got up to P8 by the end of the lap. O’Ward also got by Rahal for P12. By Lap 34, O’Ward was charging and held P9 while Ericsson pressured Power for the lead.
Dixon took P7 from Pagenaud as Grosjean pitted to have a flat right-front tire replaced. He was in P7 before the problem and returned in P20. The adversity promoted Dixon to P6 and O’Ward to P7. Race Control judged Sato to have blocked VeeKay on the restart and instructed Sato to surrender P3.
At the start of Lap 38, the order was Power, Ericsson, VeeKay, Sato, Jones, Dixon, O’Ward, Pagenaud, Harvey, and Rahal rounding out the top 10.
A big pass down the inside to Turn 1 on Lap 40 saw O’Ward take P6 from an oversteering Dixon, whose reds were tired. Pagenaud was next to get by Dixon, who was down to P8 while waiting to perform his last stop. He came in on Lap 44 along with Harvey and Herta. They’d return in P16-P18.
Jones and Rossi were in on Lap 46; Jones’ stop was slowed with a refueling issue. More among the contenders continued to pit; VeeKay stopped but his crew did not pull the left-front wheel gun away before it was driven over by his right-front on the way out.
Power and Ericsson pitted from the lead on Lap 48 with Power receiving quick service.
By Lap 50, O’Ward was in the lead ahead of Rahal, Ferrucci, and Newgarden, all of whom needed to make their last stops. Power and Ericsson were in P5-P6. McLaughlin clouted the wall and would pit with a bent left-rear suspension.
On Lap 54, all the leaders had pitted, promoting Power back to P1, Ericsson just 0.6s back in P2, and VeeKay 1.3s behind in P3.
Lap 60 showed no change in the top 10, other than Grosjean, who pitted while running P9. With the race on its way to the end, the leaders were Power, Ericsson, VeeKay, Sato, O’Ward, Pagenaud, Jones, Rahal, Ferrucci, and Rossi.
Delayed by Dalton Kellett, VeeKay had Sato pounce and claim P3 on Lap 64. The caution was out on Lap 65 as Grosjean went into the wall on his own and the red flag flew again to give the series enough time to remove the car and allow the race to finish under green. Cars rolled again at 5:10 p.m., and the cartoon anvil fell on leader Will Power, whose car refused to fire.
The restart with three laps to go saw Ericsson leap away and both VeeKay and O’Ward stream past Sato. A cluster of drivers behind them jockeyed for positions as Dixon improved to P8 while Jones fell back to P9. Marcus Ericsson is a first-time IndyCar race winner.