|Marco Andretti exits Turn 7 during Race 2 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park — Photo: Chris Owens|
The first race for the doubleheader in Detroit was a strategy showdown as rain plagued the early parts of the race and threatened again in the closing laps.
Carlos Munoz secured his first win in the Verizon IndyCar series and led eight laps on Saturday. His teammate, Marco Andretti, came in second place – but that wouldn’t have been true if Munoz hadn’t have been able to stay out two extra laps after Andretti pitted.
Andretti came in on lap 40 leading the race by around a second, and he had a 20+ second gap to the main field. On his black tires he was lapping two to five seconds a lap quicker than the main field who had switched onto rain tires eight laps earlier.
Munoz had followed suit with Andretti, partly because they are teammates, and ran the same strategy. When Andretti came in to pit (his fuel was low or else he would have stayed out longer, to gain a bigger lead), Munoz made the move to follow, but was blocked from the pits by a slow lapped car. He was forced to do another lap on his black tires, but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to Munoz.
In just those extra two laps, Munoz gained an astonishing 23 second lead on Andretti. His black tires were lapping 10 seconds quicker than Andretti’s new wet tires.
If Andretti had been able to stay out as long as Munoz did (even though Munoz’s longer stint was party due to luck), he would have surely won the race. He had the lead, and barring any pit-stop problems, he would have rejoined in front of Munoz – and the rest of the field.
Andretti himself made a great call in staying out on the slick tires when the rest of the field was pitting for wets. But his early pit-stop on lap 9 meant that he didn’t have the fuel to stay out as long as he would have liked during the second stint.
And win the race.
Data provided by Firestone Timing