Theo Pourchaire

You want feisty? You’ve got Santino Ferrucci. And Romain Grosjean. And more.

Today’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear has all the makings for another hotly contested NTT INDYCAR SERIES race. The nine-turn, 1.645-mile downtown street circuit is one of the shortest and tightest of the season, and the combination creates an ultra-competitive environment – sometimes leading to tempers.

Several emotions were on display in Saturday’s practice and qualifying sessions. Ferrucci drew the ire of Grosjean and Kyle Kirkwood, with Colton Herta chirping in. Plenty of other drivers had beefs with each other, as well. All of it made for entertaining sound bites before the drivers talked through their differences after the engines fell silent.

The opportunity for pushing, shoving and the spirit that goes with it will be there today for 100 laps. The broadcasts begin at noon ET on USA Network, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network. This is not one to miss.

“Short-track racing on a street course,” Ferrucci called it.

Add to the tension are weary competitors in the wake of three weekends of high-drama racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the field went straight from the Sonsio Grand Prix to practice and qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge to a rain-delayed edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

This weekend’s event features some of the most challenging set of circumstances drivers will face all season. It seems every corner has a run-off area that has already received a workout. Turn 8 has been the busiest hot spot, and it’s no wonder. It’s downhill with a surface transition while trying to turn hard left. And if that’s not enough, the next corner is a right-hander where the left-side wall invites its own share of trouble.

Drivers are particularly alert to the long march to Turn 3 at the end of the front straightaway. That’s where the race begins, and in last year’s inaugural battle Callum Ilott ran into the back of Kirkwood on the opening lap. There were several bumps and overtakes, a place where the cameras need to be fixed to capture the ramifications.

“It’s the most aggressive place we go to with bumps and walls,” Herta said of the circuit.

Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda) will start from the pole after winning the 12th NTT P1 Award of his career. Alongside on the front row will be series points leader Alex Palou, the driver of the No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, who won last year’s here from the top spot. Row 2 has Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Hitachi Astemo Team Penske Chevrolet) and teammate Scott McLaughlin (No. 3 Gallagher Team Penske Chevrolet). After that, it’s a field of drivers set to be aggressively on the move.

Armed with a new multiyear contract extension to remain with Team Penske, Newgarden will be trying to do what few recent “500” drivers, including himself, have failed to do – be a top finisher in the race following Indy. Not since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000 has the Indy winner won the ensuing race, and with increased media responsibilities in recent years the challenge has been even more difficult. Newgarden finished 10th in this event last year after winning his first “500.”

Today’s race has 27 car-and-driver combinations, and this season is again showcasing its competitiveness. There have been five races and five different winners. Herta is one of five different pole sitters. In the 108th Running of the “500,” there were a record 16 leaders.

A relatively new face starts seventh today. Theo Pourchaire (No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet) looks like a potential race winner in just his fourth series start. Teammate Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet) hopes to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to Newgarden in the “500” and will start 12th. At least half the field thinks it can win today.

This is a Chevrolet-sponsored race in General Motors’ hometown, but it’s Honda with the top two qualifiers. Honda has won seven of the past 10 times a race has been held in the Motor City.

Chevrolet teams certainly appear ready to take the fight to Honda and vice versa. Ferrucci (No. 14 AJ FOYT RACING/SEXTON PROPERTIES Chevrolet) didn’t back down from critics Saturday, and he surely won’t today, if necessary. Nor will Grosjean (No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet). Or others. It’s that kind of cauldron that burns hot.

Buckle up, race fans. The city with muscle is ready for its street fight on wheels.