Lightning struck twice for Andretti Autosport in the first race of this weekend's Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans doubleheader, with incisive team strategy coupled with brilliant drives by Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti yielding a team 1-2 by the time that the race was red flagged and eventually declared complete after just 47 laps because of inclement weather.

CLICK: Full race 1 results from the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit doubleheader at Belle Isle.

Even before the cars left pit land to start, the event had already been declared a wet race with everyone ordered onto rain tyres after a number of brief but heavy showers had swept over the Detroit Belle Isle area leaving the 2.35-mile, 14-turn street circuit thoroughly soaked. With even worse weather reported to be on the way the start of the race had been pulled forward by 20 minutes and race officials additionally decreed a single file rolling start rather than the traditional two-wide run to the green flag.

As the Penske top-heavy grid formed up to get the 70-lap race underway, visibility was an instant problem with water spray making conditions extremely tricky for everyone save pole winner Will Power who was enjoying the best unimpeded view of the track from his position out in front allowing him to retain the lead going into turn 1, with the rest of the field following through with remarkably little incident given the conditions.

Immediately on the move was AJ Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato who was starting from fourth place. With the rain proving to be a great leveller in terms of Honda's performance compared with that of the Chevrolet cars, Sato made short work of Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves, and then on just the third lap he made a further successful bid to oust Power from the lead just before the first caution of the afternoon for Dale Coyne Racing's Rodolfo Gonzalez going for a spin on the standing water on the exit of turn 2.

Only a few of the backmarkers opted to pit this early, and the leaders were unchanged as they took the restart on lap 5. It didn't last long, a daring three-wide move down the inside of turn 1 by KV Racing Technology's Stefano Coletti resulting in the slightest of contacts with with James Jakes, which tapped the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport car into that of Tony Kanaan on the outside. Jakes found himself embedded in the tyre wall while Kanaan half spun and was bounced sideways back into the racing line where he was collected by an unsighted Graham Rahal who has no where to go, the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car ending up making a big impact on the right rear of the #10 Ganassi.

When the race went back to green on lap 11, Sato still had the lead from Power, Castroneves and Montoya. Further back, a thin dry line had already started to develop on the track which had encouraged a number of drivers including Marco Andretti, Charlie Kimball, Luca Filippi, Jack Hawksworth and Conor Daly to risk an early switch to slick tyres which were immediately much faster. The drivers were still handicapped by their cars not being able to move out of the narrow dry channel to overtake the cars ahead of them, but the writing was on the wall and Stefano Coletti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden all soon decided it was time to pit under green to follow the trend to slicks.

It was still a risky move, as Kimball proved seconds later when his car snapped into the concrete wall in turn 2 to bring out another caution on lap 14. Despite this clear and present warning, this time there was no question among the leaders that they were fighting a losing battle by trying to stay on the wet weather tyres on a now-rapidly drying track. Everyone duly dived onto pit lane for their first set of slicks of the day, with Sato's stop going smoothly but a jam on the left rear of the #1 Penske causing Will Power to lose a net six places by the time he was finally able to exit pit road.

The upshot was that Marco Andretti reaped the reward for his early daring, picking up the lead for the next restart on lap 18 ahead of Filippi, Hawksworth, Daly and Coletti, with Hunter-Reay in sixth ahead of Newgarden and Sato rejoining in eighth ahead of Castroneves and Montoya. Coletti made another ambitious move down the inside and this time picked up a spot from Daly without any negative collateral damage, while Hawksworth also got a good jump on Filippi to move up to second from where he was able to start hunting down Andretti at the front. Less successful was Sato's attempt to hustle Newgarden out of the way, rear-end contact in turn 7 resulting in damage to the front wing of the #14 car. Sato held on long enough for a new yellow to be declared on lap 21 - for the debris on the track resulting from his own contact with the #67 - which at least allowed him to pit under the caution for a part exchange.

With conditions now much improved since the start, the race finally settled down to its first decent green flag spell, local yellows being sufficient to handle Tristan Vautier when he briefly parked at the tyre barrier in turn 3 after being shouldered aside by an assertive Carlos Munoz. However a full course caution - the sixth of the day and the race not yet an hour old - was required on lap 26 for debris on the track in turn 14 from the car of Vautier's team mate Gonzalez who had made contact with the wall coming onto the frontstretch.

The race got back underway on lap 28 with Andretti, Hawksworth, Filippi and Coletti still at the front and Daly picking up fifth with a smart move on Hunter-Reay. Will Power was also on the move after his pit stop set-back earlier in the race and was now back in the top ten, while a charging Sato was having a pitched battle with Sage Karam over 14th place as he too tried to fight his way back into contention. Karam was later handed a penalty for his overly enthusiastic blocking of Sato.

The track was now largely dry, but there were furrowed brows on pit road as everyone anxiously watched the approach of another - and much more serious - inward bound weather front on the rain radar. When another debris caution came out on lap 31, the Ganassi team tried an audacious strategy by bringing in Scott Dixon for a change to wet weather tyres even though there was only the faintest hint of rain in the air. The plan was to hope that these tyres would last long enough for the now-inevitable downpour to start in earnest, at which point the other cars being forced to come down pit lane would promote Dixon to a potentially race-winning position at the front of the field.

Andretti's engine briefly went into anti-stall at the restart on lap 33 which meant that a half dozen cars streamed past him. Hawksworth was promoted to a short-lived lead but he was soon quickly making his own move onto pit lane along with the majority of leaders as the rain slowly started to pick up again in intensity. Will Power briefly cycled into the lead but then himself pitted the next time by, but he was able to get back out in front of Dixon whose tyres were already rapidly cooking themselves into oblivion after being starved of sufficient water to cool them down on the still-dry track.

Three cars stayed out: Andretti had the bit between his teeth and had succeeded in recovering the lead ahead of Munoz and Pagenaud, with Power the first of the cars already on wet weather tyres in fourth ahead of Dixon, Castroneves, Hawksworth and Filippi. Andretti was finally ordered in to pit lane for fuel at the end of lap 40 and at the same time he was issued with wet weather tyres somewhat against his wishes, data from the rain radar trumping the driver's insistent gut; but Marco's terrific run on the slicks to this point had given him a healthy margin over the cars that had stopped several laps earlier and he rejoined with over half a minute in hand over Power and Dixon.

Pagenaud followed Andretti's lead with similar success, but it was Andretti's team mate Carlos Munoz who succeeded in pushing the strategy two laps further still. That meant he was rewarded in spades when he emerged with the race lead and a massive gap of 25s over the entire field. That sort of lead was never going to last long, and it was negated altogether when the seventh caution of the day came out with 24 laps and half an hour remaining on the clock as weather conditions deteriorated rapidly and lightning was sighted in the area. Race control was forced to declare a safety warning and instruct track workers and spectators to seek cover, while the drivers themselves were shown the red flag and summoned to pit lane to park as the rain began in earnest. Even so it was too late for Luca Filippi, who aquaplaned off into the tyre wall at turn 1 before he could get back around to safety.

As the drivers huddled on pit road, Munoz faced an agonising wait to find out whether his work was done for the day and whether he was really about to be handed his first Verizon IndyCar Series race victory. It was nearly half an hour by the time the word came down: with no hope of the weather clearing up anytime soon, and since more than half the race was done it meant that the race was officially 'in the books'. The result was declared and Munoz able to celebrate with the Andretti Autosport crew.

"I wanted to win 100 per cent and with all the laps," insisted the 23-year-old Colombian, who is in his second full season with Andretti Autosport. "I wanted to get my first win by doing all the laps, but I'm really happy for my team.

"Racing is racing, which is what happened with the weather. It was a great call with the strategy and a great result for the team with a 1-2. I had the fuel to go laps longer."

Having to settle for second place after leading for a race-high 23 laps was not all that Marco Andretti had been hoping for, but at least it was a podium place and a big boost in the championship standings.

"It [strategy] started very early in the race," he explained. "We were running eighth and we had a bunch of strong guys in the front so it seemed like a no-brainer [to pit for slicks on Lap 19] as long as I could keep it off the fence, which we were able to do

""At the end I really didn't want to come in, but we needed to get some fuel, and I knew whoever stayed out would beat me. It was good for an Andretti Autosport 1-2."

Simon Pagenaud ended up with third place despite having looked fragile at times in the drying conditions and not nearly as confident or as fast as the rest of the Penske drivers. He came to life when the conditions were at their worst, and combined with canny strategy it was enough to see him successfully pip Power who had managed to battle his way back to fourth by the time the red flags came out.

"Today was all about team effort and I can't thank the #22 crew enough for a good strategy and a great call at any time," said Pagenaud. "It was very dicey. We never knew when the rain was going to come. We could only look at the radar, but on the racetrack it wasn't raining when they called me in so we had a few communications exchanges.

"We stayed out a bit longer and then made the call at the perfect time to jump to third and then get a first podium with Team Penske. I'm over the moon right now," he smiled.

Dixon must have been relieved by the way the race ended prematurely, given that his wet weather tyres were long past their end of life by the time the downpour started. He held on to fifth place ahead of Castroneves, with Hawksworth in seventh ahead of Newgarden. Filippi was classified in ninth despite his last minute mishap, with Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya rounding out the top ten and the lowest of the four Penske cars in the final classification.

The rain is forecast to continue overnight before easing off in the morning: with qualifying for race 2 of the doubleheader scheduled for 11.25am ET (4.25pm BST) it's touch and go whether the session will run as scheduled. However things are looking somewhat better for the second race itself due to get underway at 3.50pm ET (8.50pm BST) with the next weather front expected to push rain to the north of Detroit rather than dump another load of water on the track.

Even if it does stay dry for the race, it will be much colder on Sunday - forecasts suggest that air temperatures could be as much as 11C (20F) lower for tomorrow's race with major consequences for the handling and set-up of the cars. One way or another, it should prove to be another interesting and unpredictable day at the races in Detroit in store.

See full race 1 results from the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit doubleheader at Belle Isle.


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