Jun 3, 2012
DETROIT -- Suspending the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix after 45 of 90 laps because of necessary track repairs for the safety of IZOD IndyCar Series drivers wasn't an option, according to event chairman Bud Denker.
So a couple of phone calls and brief consultation with INDYCAR officials later, track crews and Holmatro Safety Team members began to address the issues in Turns 6, 7 and 10 of the 2.07-mile, 14-turn street course while cars were parked on pit lane under a red flag.
The red flag was displayed at 4:53 p.m. (ET) -- about 68 minutes after the start of the race -- following the first full-course caution on Lap 40 when James Hinchcliffe's No. 27 GoDaddy.com car struck a chunk of asphalt that had been jarred loose and sent him into the tire barrier in Turn 7. Almost simultaneously, the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car of Takuma Sato slid into the Turn 12 wall.
Click it: Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix box score
Polymer patch used to fill some of the cracks in the concrete and asphalt (because it expands and contracts with the seasons) was being sucked up by the downforce of the 25-car field in the race. Crews used a concrete filler, which dries after about 30 minutes, to fill about 20 feet of cracks that were 5-6 inches wide and 2-4 inches deep in Turn 6, 30 feet and in Turn 7 and about 60 feet in Turn 10.
"I'm proud of what my team did. We gathered in the middle of Turn 6 and I told them, 'We are not going to give up, guys,' '' Denker said of the event that returned to the island after a three-year absence. "We're going to put a race back on for the fans, for our sponsors and for TV and do whatever we have to do as quickly as we can do it. The easy thing to do was to say we can't fix it fast enough. But that's not how we operate.
"I wanted a perfect event; it was pretty good. We'll make improvements."
Drivers were allowed to get out of the cockpit, but no work on the cars was allowed. Before taking the green flag, entrants were allowed to change tires (keeping either the primary or alternate Firestone Firehawks). Scott Dixon, the race leader at the time of the red flag, went on to win by 1.9 seconds over Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti.
Will Power, Tony Kanaan and Franchitti inspected the racing surface at 6:30 p.m. and the race resumed 22 minutes later.
It was the first weekend of racing on Belle Isle since 2008, and Denker announced before the Four Tops performed the national anthem that grandstand tickets were sold out.
"Track crews have done a great job addressing the problem areas," Race Director Beaux Barfield said.
The last red flag in an IZOD IndyCar Series race was last August at New Hampshire because of rain. The last non-weather-related red flag was at Chicagoland Speedway in 2005 (accident). The Oct. 16, 2011, event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that was stopped early in the race because of a multi-car accident was declared a non-event.