DETROIT -- Simon Pagenaud and Mike Conway remembered the route to the media center on Belle Isle following the second practice session for the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans.
Both had been escorted there for post-race interviews last year as winners of the Verizon IndyCar Series weekend doubleheader. This time, they were 1-2 in the 45-minute practice session that precedes the three rounds of qualifications, including the Firestone Fast Six to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner, for Race 1 at 8:30 a.m. (ET) May 31. ABC will televise both 70-lap races (3:30 p.m. ET May 31 and June 1).
Click it: Race 1 qualifying groups || Practice 2 results || Combined practice results
Pagenaud, whose victory in Race 2 was his first in Indy car racing and the first for Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports, set the bar high in the afternoon practice with a lap of 1 minute, 17.6502 seconds on the 2.36-mile, 13-turn temporary street circuit. Conway was .0647 of a second back in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car for Ed Carpenter Racing, and both were within three-tenths of a second of Conway's track record in its current configuration (1:17.4371) set in Race 2 last June.
"I think it's becoming an interesting track in terms of racing, not just qualifying, but there's some good places for passing -- Turn 3, Turn 7," said Pagenaud, who won May 10 in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. "It's breathtaking after being two weeks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You really get your handful. It's certainly hard work. You just push yourself as hard as you can and try to do a good lap."
Conway earned the Verizon P1 Award for Race 2 with a best lap of 1:18.0977, while Dario Franchitti was the pole winner for Race 1 with a lap of 1:19.3311.
"Obviously, couldn’t do it without a good car from Ed Carpenter Racing," said Conway, who competes in road/street course events while Carpenter drives on the ovals. "I think we just picked up where we left off at Long Beach (victory in mid-April); it seems to be a good place to start with here. I haven’t touched it much, which is a big credit to the team really. Around the place it’s a lot of fun. Each lap gets your attention that’s for sure. There’s non-stop action around here.
"I think qualifying will be very exciting with the Firestone red tires added to the mix. You could see some low 76s (seconds) laps.”
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves, runner-up in the Indianapolis 500 on May 25, and Will Power also recorded laps under 1:18 in the practice, while Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth with a best lap of 1:18.1674. The newly-crowned 500 Mile Race champion was quickest in the opening session.
"We had a great first session and in the second session we only used one set of tires, so we’ve got some tires in the back pocket for the rest of the weekend," said Hunter-Reay, who arrived in Detroit on May 29 after a whirlwind Indianapolis 500 Victory Tour. "I think we’ve got a pretty good car for qualifying; we’ll see how it goes on session at a time."
Pagenaud, in his third year with Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports, credits continuity, in part, with results posted by the No. 77 Honda-powered entry (four top-five finishes in the initial five races), while Conway is in his first season with Ed Carpenter Racing. He won at Detroit last year in a Dale Coyne Racing car and started from the pole for Race 2.
"I tried to bring as much back from last year as I could," he said. "We come to this point where we can roll out and be in the top six, which is where you always want to be, especially with the doubleheaders. All credit to the team though. They've been working flat out for the last eight, nine weeks. They're still pushing all the time."
Click to download the hi-res Infographic