It took Penske three years to get from win number 99 to win number 100, but it took them just three races to take win number 101. Helio Castroneves stormed home at the tricky Belle Isle circuit, beating Max Papis home by four seconds.
The notorious Belle Isle parkland circuit once again proved to be a car breaker as long-time leader Juan Montoya was forced out of the lead with a broken driveshaft with just twenty laps to go.
Montoya had led the field away from pole position although fellow front row man Dario Franchitti challenged the Colombian hard into the first series of corners. Unlike last year Montoya didn't pull away and leave the field for dead and Franchitti was able to stay within three seconds until the first round of pit-stops.
Behind the lead two, Castroneves held his third place away from the grid and settled down with team-mate Gil De Ferran tucked in behind him. Behind these two there was a good deal of shuffling going on with Cristiano Da Matta nipping past Papis on the opening lap to take up fifth place with Christian Fittipaldi replicating his move on the Italian to take up sixth. Kenny Brack, in the second Team Rahal car, followed his team-mate in eighth place while Roberto Moreno and Michael Andretti rounded out the top ten.
Paul Tracy made a superb getaway from his 20th starting position overtaking five cars on the opening lap and settling in behind the second Ganassi car of Jimmy Vasser, the top two in the championship circulating just outside the points in 14th and 15th places.
Gradually Castroneves was able to ease away from his team-mate and turned his attention to Franchitti. However as is always the case in Detroit, the track quickly became very slippery off-line which made passing difficult and Castroneves had to be content with sitting in behind the Scot and hoping he made a mistake.
The gap between the lead pair stabilised at about 1.5 seconds after ten laps with the Lola-Toyota combination working very well on both the tight and twisty sections of the Belle Isle track aswell as the comparatively fast, sweeping sections. Franchitti appeared to be working much harder behind the wheel than Montoya while Castroneves just appeared to be biding his time and waiting for Dario to make a mistake.
The first re-shuffle in the pack came on lap ten when Kenny Brack nudges the wall also causing the closely following Michael Andretti to take evasive action. Andretti was able to continue back in twelfth place, just ahead of the scrapping Vasser and Tracy while Brack could only cruise back to the pits with a bent suspension.
Brack was not the first driver to touch the wall however. Two laps earlier Da Matta, still holding down his superb fifth position made light contact with the concrete on the exit of the penultimate turn although he was able to continue, albeit a little further behind De Ferran who was now left to plough a lonely furrow in fourth.