Ever since he made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut at short notice subbing for an injured Ana Beatriz in Alabama at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, it was clear that sportscar star Simon Pagenaud was simply too good at this not to make it into victory lane sooner or later - the only question was when. Now we have the answer: after three podium finishes in 2012, the Frenchman went one better and claimed the top step for himself in Detroit in the second race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans.

Polesitter and race 1 winner Mike Conway had led the field to the green flag four round 2 at Detroit, but this time he was the victim rather than the beneficiary of an immediate pass for the lead as Will Power immediately took point. And then, just like the first race 24 hours earlier, the yellows were out - and the cause was once again for AJ Allmendinger crashing out, the 2.34-mile, 13-turn Belle Isle street circuit not being at all kind to the NASCAR transferee this weekend.

"It was just a huge mistake by me again," said a clearly disappointed Allmendinger. "Start of the race, trying to be aggressive, not kind of get sucked into everything and just made a mistake again. I don't know what to say, I apologize to Roger.

"It's embarrassing, honestly. It's embarrassing for me. Roger deserves better than that," he went on. "I don't know where I go from here. I'm heartbroken, I don't even know what to say anymore."

Conway immediately reclaimed the lead from Power at the restart on lap 5, with Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay in pursuit and James Jakes in fifth recovering from a problematic initial start on the front row alongside Conway. There was only time for four green flag laps before Simona de Silvestro ended up sliding into the unprotected concrete wall at turn 8 with a suspected brake issue on the #78 KV Racing car resulting in heavy damage to the front right of the car, but fortunately not to the driver.

"I'm alright," she said. "It was definitely hard because there were no tyres there, not really sure what happened. I went to turn a corner and it just wouldn't turn, and we hit into the wall straight ahead. The tyre just locked up into the turn and it wouldn't turn, and we just kind of went into the wall.

"It was frustrating because I think we were moving forward, we had an okay car," she said. "It's really frustrating because we're not quite sure what happened. It was the beginning of the race, so it's really annoying when you're out so early."

A number of cars ditched their planned race strategy to pit, among them Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, Tristan Vautier, Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais who duly restarted at the back of the pack when the track went green again on lap 13 and which saw Alex Tagliani end up in the tricky run-off at turn 3 in another replay of the previous day's events, causing a rapid return to yellow. This time, however, he got a helping punt from Ed Carpenter in the process who needed a new nosecone.

It was a short caution with the green out again on lap 15: EJ Viso suffered front wing damage in the restart melee, but it was a more serious matter for his Andretti Autosport team mate Ryan Hunter-Reay who clipped the wall at turn 8 at the same spot that had done for de Silvestro, and he had to limp the damaged #1 home to pit lane - fortunately without requiring a full course caution in the process.

"I just threw the race away; completely my fault," he admitted. "I just tagged the right front on the entry wall at one of the corners here. That's how it is with street circuits; when you mistake by an inch, it can cause you a race."

Conway had built up a massive eight second lead in just five laps by the time the next caution came out on lap 20 for debris on track between turns 2 and 3; the leader was still not inclined to shift from his intended race strategy by pitting and so Conway continued to lead at the restart ahead of Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Justin Wilson on lap 24, but once again it was a rapid return to caution after Takuma Sato plunged into the tyres in turn 3.

Another attempt to go back to green on lap 27 came to an even stickier end, possibly a sign of driver fatigue in this lone two-race double-header weekend in Detroit. This time the field didn't even get through turn 1 with a multi-car incident collecting seven of the contenders: Bourdais hit and spun Power which then involved Rahal, Viso, Wilson, Carpenter, Tagliani, Ryan Briscoe, James Hinchcliffe and Sebastian Saavedra in the aftermath which scattered debris all through the corner.

"Something happened up ahead, and I was going into the corner on the outside of Charlie, and I couldn't see because the rear wing is so big and everyone just stopped," explained Wilson. "It was just a road block. The complete track was blocked from where I was. I hit the wall trying not to run into anyone.

"It's a disappointing day, had a good race car," he added. "Seems like everyone is getting a little crazy today. Yesterday was nice and calm, but today was crazy."

Hinchcliffe had his own theory on why the first half of Sunday's race had been so chaotic compared with Saturday: "The restarts today were a lot slower than yesterday. It was getting a lot more guys packed up and we saw the result. It wasn't just us.

"It seemed like every restart someone was getting caught up in something, and I honestly think they were just a little bit too slow," he continued. "One restart we lose a couple places; one restart we gain five and one restart we're pretty much out of the race. It's just one of those things when you do double-file restarts on a tight track like this."

Power, Tagliani and Wilson were the cars immediately listed as too damaged to be able to continue, and Power was in no doubt about where to apportion the blame: "He once was a champ, now he's a chump," he said, fuming at Bourdais who was handed a drive-thru penalty by race control for avoidable contact.

"I hardly touched Will Power at that restart and was penalised," grumbled Bourdais later, feeling unfairly treated. We got robbed and that is not right.

"Yesterday my teammate was taken out by Marco and there was no penalty given. We have had at least 15 contacts throughout the weekend and maybe 2 or 3 guys were penalised, including me today," he continued. "This is just not right because my team works so hard and we deserve so much better than this."

Power did in fact resume albeit 16 laps down, with Andretti duo Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe also subsequently returning to the fray with battle damage despite being well off the lead lap themselves.

Confusion about when the pits were open meant Dixon was able to get in and out while the rest of the field was being held up by the clean-up work in turn 1, which put him back out in seventh ahead of Conway but behind a pack of cars that hadn't pitted for over 20 laps led by Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, Tristan Vautier and Dario Franchitti.

All this, and still almost half the race to run as the green came out again on lap 38 - fortunately without incident this time as Vautier passed Kanaan for the lead. On his fresher red-walled option tyres, Conway was also flying - slaloming through the field and soon blasting past Kanaan for second and bearing down on Vautier for the lead, knowing that the operational window for the option tyres was short-lived and likely to disadvantage him sooner rather than later.

Vautier made it easy on the Englishman by pitting at the end of lap 39, so Conway was in charge once more with a similarly red-shod Kimball managing to follow in Conway's tyre marks to take up second spot ahead of Pagenaud and Dixon. When Conway's tyres did abruptly fall off in terms of performance, the more careful Kimball was then able to take the lead.

As the highest-placed man on the prime black-wall tyres, Pagenaud was looking stronger as the stint wore on and the red tyres of the leaders wore out. On lap 47 with 23 laps to go to the finish he duly demoted the now-struggling Conway to third place; Conway took that as a sign that he needed to ditch the red tyres as soon as possible and he duly dived onto pit lane along with Dixon, Kimball taking the hint and coming in next time around leaving Pagenaud to control the race at the front ahead of James Jakes and Marco Andretti, all of whom had to pit again.

Conway was down in fifth place behind Dario Franchitti who had pitted just a few laps before him and was therefore looking in a strong position as long as he could hold off Conway on the track for the remaining 19 laps. In fact, Pagenaud and Jakes both managed to pull out a sufficiently large gap at the front in the meantime that they were able to pit and emerge out on track ahead of the others

Conway picked off a fuel-conserving Franchitti and set his sights on eliminating the five second lap that Pagenaud and Jakes still enjoyed at the front: Jakes appeared likely to be the most disadvantaged, having left his mandatory run on the short-life red tyres to this final stint in the hope that by this stage there would be enough rubber laid down on the track to enable him to hold off all challengers to the finish.

In fact, Jakes had gambled right: despite Conway's superior pace allowing him to harry the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car all over the place for the last ten laps, the Dale Coyne car was unable to find a way past to claim second place. And all the time, the Schmidt-Hamilton #78 of Pagenaud was pulling further and further away from the field until by the time the chequered flag came out there was no doubting that the Frenchman had claimed his maiden win in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

"There were a lot of things going on in the cockpit in the last two laps, I can tell you that," said Pagenaud as he stepped out of the car. Man, it's a great feeling. One I hope of more to come!

"It's unbelievable," he added. "I don't know how we did it. The car was mega fast. The HP team did a fantastic job. Honda has been amazing - I certainly had more horsepower than anyone else out there right now."

It was indeed striking that just a week on from the Indianapolis 500 where the Honda teams had appeared at a significant advantage to the Chevrolet stable, the podium on Sunday was an all-Honda affair. In some ways it was the sweetest revenge, since Chevrolet are the title sponsors of the Detroit double-header and the race is held in their back yard in Motor City.

"This one is for Honda, three Hondas on the podium in Detroit again - they've really worked their butts off since Indy, and we're proud of them," said James Jakes who scored a series-high best finish in second.

"It's huge, it's huge for a lot of people - the Rahal Letterman Lanigan guys have done a great job this weekend," said Jakes, from Leeds in England. "The #16 Acorn Stairlifts-StemCyte car was just magical today."

And despite not being able to pull off back-to-back wins at Detroit this weekend, Mike Conway was more than thrilled to get a second podium in his highly successful return to the series with Dale Coyne Racing: "I feel good. Adrenaline is pumping, but I'm sure I'll be shattered tonight," he said, insisting that he had driven hard all the way to the chequered and never given up.

"Just driving flat out, as fast as it would go," he said. "I pushed really hard at the beginning and that may have taken a little bit out of the tyres but it was still good towards the end. I was catching James [Jakes], I could see he was on reds, so he started to pull away to start with when he came out to start with from that last pit stop. I thought they may go out until the end, and they were, and I used my overtake, the one I had left, maybe a lap too early. And that was enough. I couldn't quite get close enough."

Despite his success this weekend, Conway definitely won't be back in the car next weekend when the teams arrive at Texas Motor Speedway for the Saturday night for the Firestone 550 on June 8. The Englishman has quit oval events and won't be tempted back - but given the level of success he's brought to the team this weekend in Detroit, it would surely be a surprise indeed if he wasn't back in the series for further street and road course events later in 2013.

Full race results and championship standings are available.