TRACK: Streets of Belle Isle (2.35-mile, 14-turn street course), DISTANCE: 70 Laps (164.5 Miles each race)
This will mark the series’ first trip back to Belle Isle since 2019. Last year’s race weekend was scrapped due to COVID. This year though, the race also moves back a week to give teams a week to recover after a grueling start to the season. The series started coming to Detroit in 1989 but moved to the streets of the island on Belle Isle in 1992. They remained here through 2001, but from 2002 through 2006, the race wasn’t held. The INDYCAR Series came back in 2007 but only lasted two years before another hiatus from 2009 through 2011. They came back again in 2012 and stayed every year since other than last.
- Penske has just 1 Belle Isle win in the last 6 races and only 2 in the last 10 overall.
- Since the doubleheader format started in 2013, only once (2017) did someone sweep both races (Graham Rahal).
- Only 1 pole winner (Rahal 2017) has won the race outright in the last 14 tries.
- 4 of the last 6 Belle Isle winners started in the top 3 spots.
- The top four starters won 9 of the 14 races run last year including 8 of the final 9. They’re 4-for-6 already this season too.
- 12 of the 14 races last year saw the winner come from a top 10 starting position including all of the 6 this season. That comes after all 17 races in 2019 having a top 10 starter win as well as the 2018 season finale.
- 38 of the last 39 races saw the eventual race winner come from a top 10 starting spot. Simon Pagenaud (23rd) last July in Iowa is the only exception since the 2018 season finale.
- 7 straight Belle Isle races were won from a top 10 starting spot including 8 of the last 9 and 24 of the 27 ever run on the island.
- We’ve seen an opening lap crash in three of the six races run in 2021 including four of the last 11 dating back to last season. Furthermore, we’ve had 12 in the last 41 races overall.
- 2019 saw high cautions with 4 in Race 1 and 5 in Race 2, but traditionally, Belle Isle features low yellows. There’s been 3 or fewer in the previous 7 races prior to 2019.
- Since the new car came out in 2018, the “Big 3” have won 43 of the 54 races run (83-percent). Penske has won 22 times with Ganassi (12) and Andretti (9). But, RLL is next best with four victories while no one else has more than three.
- Throw in RLL and you get 47 of 54 races won by these teams.
- If you go back to 2016 though, that number stays the same. The “Big 3” have won 69 of 90 races run in that time frame. Throw in RLL and you get 76 of 90.
TRACK COMPARISONS/WHO’S BEEN GOOD ON THEM
Belle Isle being a street course is unique in the sense that we don’t have many of them on the schedule. Last year, there was just one – St. Pete. This year, we have a few more in Long Beach, St. Pete and Toronto. These are the best comparisons to Belle Isle in the fact that the top drivers on those places are also good at on the scenic Detroit facility too.
If you go back to the start of the 2019 season, we’ve had seven races on these circuits with five different winners. Josef Newgarden is the only multi-time winner with three trips to victory lane, two of which coming on the streets of St. Pete.
The big teams are strong on them with Penske winning four of those last seven races and Andretti scoring two wins and Ganassi one themselves.
Andretti says this is their top types of circuits, where Penske is probably second in nature followed by Ganassi.