DETROIT – I’m really happy to be back in the race car this week and in Detroit for the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit doubleheader. It’s fun returning as a defending champion of an event.
Needless to say, I love coming to Belle Isle and especially after last year when I drove for Dale Coyne in the a last minute deal.
We made the deal on the Tuesday before the Detroit weekend and I was on a flight to the Motown on Wednesday. Prior to that, I was preparing to race at Le Mans for the 24 Hours. So everything was kind of a whirlwind to get to the race, get fitted in the car and get ready for the first practice session on Friday.
I had raced at Belle Isle before and placed ninth in 2012. I have always enjoyed the track, with its bumps and different surfaces from pavement to concrete.
Last year, it was such a weird experience initially because I was in an all-black suit with no sponsors and the car was painted from Indy, so things looked a little strange with Sonny’s BBQ on the side. But the car was fast right out of the gate.
I was in the last pit stall since I was a new driver to the Coyne team and we were definitely not on the radar from the weekend. But we qualified third and started second since Dario Franchitti had lost 10 positions due to an engine change. E.J. Viso started on the pole in the Saturday race.
But I wanted to lead the race and jumped to the top spot at the green flag. The Belle Isle had some track surface problems the previous year but the Penske Group, the promoters, did a nice job fixing the track so it was racy. They expanded the straightaway after the first turn and it made for some passing.
My car felt great and I held the lead until the first pit stop. The Coyne crew did a good job and the car felt very good. So I was able to race hard and be aggressive. In the end, I led the race for 47 laps and beat Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson in the Saturday 70-lap feature.