Saturday's 2013 Belle Isle Grand Prix was the first of two Indy Dual races to be held in Detroit this weekend, and Mike Conway got his first IndyCar win since 2011—crossing the finish line first after leading the most laps in the race.
IZOD IndyCar Series on Twitter had the news as Conway was the first driver to see the checkered flag.
Conway, who wasn't even on the race roster until mid-week, captured the first of the two duals at Belle Isle racetrack. He will be on the pole tomorrow, too, after winning the qualifying round on Saturday morning for Dual No. 2.
Pippa Mann was among those who congratulated the 29-year-old British driver on Twitter:
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves—who moved into the points lead in the driver standings after the race—rounded out the top five in Motor City on Saturday afternoon. Dario Franchetti, who won the pole in qualifying but was penalized 10 spots for his actions in Indianapolis, finished sixth.
2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan would finish in a distant 13th, unable to recapture his magic from last week at Indianpolis in Race No. 1. Pole-sitter E.J. Visio also struggled out of the gate and would finish 17th.
Those who did not compete the way they wanted to will have a chance to revise the results of Saturday's outcome with a solid showing in Dual No. 2 on Sunday afternoon.
Let's take a look at the race results from Saturday's first dual from Detroit.
*Note: All stats and standings via IndyCar.com.
2013 Belle Isle Grand Prix Results
|16.||Simona De Silvestro||18|
*Results via ESPN.com.
The IndyCar series first announced that the league would test this double-header format at Belle Isle Park last year, giving the drivers and team owners plenty of chances to prepare for the grueling two-day trek through the road course.
We won't see the fruits of that labor until tomorrow afternoon's Dual No. 2 is completed, but it was so far, so good for most of the field, especially Conway, who reaped praise from broadcasters, fellow drivers and fans everywhere all afternoon during his impressive Saturday run.
Saturday's race got off to a shake start in the first few turns, especially if you're a fan of Penske racing.
AJ Allmendinger, who started in the No. 13 place on the grid when the race began, couldn't stay on the track for very long at all. We've seen road courses like this get the better of drivers during each of the past few seasons, and Allmendinger joined that club with a hard crash in turn No. 4.
His day was over before it ever really began.
If said with a sigh at the end, this tweet from The Detroit News likely sums up the frustration of his crew and owners when he crashed into the tires before the first lap was even halfway completed:
The crash also comes the same day that Penske announced Allmendinger has a choice to rejoin the NASCAR progarm with the Penske team by running some road course races in the Nationwide Series (via ESPN Motorsports):
Allmendinger's crash was the first of the day and left him in last place on the leaderboard, but he wasn't the only driver to get in trouble on some of the more difficult passes at Belle Isle Park on Saturday.
One such notable incident occurred between Marco Andretti and Sebastian Saavedra, the latter of whom was forced off the track following an incident that left him out of the race for good.
Note: Images below are NSFW.
Saavedra had to get out of his car following his high-side stoppage, and waited for Andretti to come around the track again before finding two birds in his pocket that will surely warrant a fine from some establishment involved with the IndyCar Series.
Geoffrey Miller stopped his TV to grab the shot and post it on Twitter (Again: Image NSFW):
Ryan Briscoe, Alex Tagliani and Sebastien Bourdais would also fail to finish the race.
According to this tweet from IZOD IndyCar Series, a review of the incident has already taken place and there will be no action taken for the result of Andretti's actions leading to the response from Saavedra:
James Hinchcliffe also got into some trouble on the track, a common theme if you revisit his trip to Belle Isle for this same race in 2012. Last year, Hinchcliffe caught a piece off the track coming around a turn, and his day would end because of it.
This year, he managed to lodge a tire under his front axle, but luckily would not need to retire because of it. Hinchcliffe would finish 15th (via Andretti Autosport):
It was an up-and-down day at the track on Saturday, marred somewhat by the stoppages that led to yellow flags and a couple of cautions. Those weren't enough to stop Conway from picking up the victory, and we'll see what kind of momentum he carries into race No. 2 here on Sunday with another 50 points clearly in his grasp.
2013 IndyCar Championship Standings (6 of 19 races completed)
Sunday's race is scheduled to kick off right around the same time Saturday's did, so the drivers will have a short turnaround for another 70 laps at one of Detroit's finest raceways.
The drivers will then travel South for their next official race, next week's Firestone 500 in Fort Worth, Texas at Texas Motor Speedway. Justin Wilson, who finished third on Saturday, is the reigning champ for next week's showdown in Texas.
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