Sebastien Bourdais compared the first race of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans to a game of Texas hold 'em. The KVSH Racing driver had the winning hand today, making history in the process.

Bourdais, the four-time CART/IndyCar champion, won by 2.0401secs over Conor Daly in the 70-lap race on the 2.35-mile temporary street course at Belle Isle Park. It was the 37-year old Frenchman's 35th career victory, tying him with Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time list.

"It's like playing poker," Bourdais confirmed, "You know what hand you have right now at the moment, but every bet you make is going to work or not work based on what's going to happen later on. You just have to make decisions and today we just got the lucky hand. The guys in the pits made the right call. Thankfully I didn't make any mistakes, ran pretty well and pretty strong."

Starting 13th in the #11 Team Hydroxycut/KVSH Racing Chevrolet, Bourdais fell as low as 19th after pitting early to change to the black-sidewall Firestone primary tyres most drivers preferred in the race. He charged to fourth by lap 32 but didn't take the race lead until lap 55 when reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon made his final pit-stop.

Bourdais stopped for fuel only two laps later and, when Daly needed to pit for a splash of Sunoco E85R ethanol on lap 61, the Frenchman regained the lead and took it to the chequered flag. On the heels of winning the second race of the 2015 Dual in Detroit, Bourdais has now won two consecutive Belle Isle races.

With the second Chevrolet Dual in Detroit race scheduled for 70 laps on Sunday afternoon, it leaves Bourdais little time to savour the company he joined among IndyCar racing's all-time greats, three-time Indy 500 winner Unser, who also won 35 races.

"Every time you move up the ranks like this, you feel like you belong even more in a very elite group, a very small group of extremely talented drivers, some obviously who are legends," Bourdais admitted, "I don't know that I want to compare myself to any of those."

Daly, meanwhile, was elated with second place, his best finish in 13 career Verizon IndyCar Series races.

"I am a happy human," the 24-year-old American series rookie said. "I have to continue to remember this is my first year, right? Everything has been all over the place up until this. To be on the podium my first year, it's a really rewarding experience. I just hope I can do more, obviously."

Team Penske's quartet of drivers dominated the race early, with championship leader Simon Pagenaud, 2014 series champion Will Power and 1999 Indy car champion Juan Pablo Montoya leading the first 53 laps. But Pagenaud ran out of fuel on the final lap, finishing 13th, and Power's day ended when a wheel nut on his car came loose on lap 45, forcing him to pull off course.

Montoya finished third in the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, his best result since winning the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg in March.

"We were trying to play the rain," the Colombian explained, "When we restarted, we never really pushed. We were trying to make sure we could make it to the rain and the rain never came. We tried to run a smart race, but it didn't happen. We got a decent podium out of it, so I'm pretty happy about that."

Graham Rahal finished fourth in the #15 United Rentals Honda, just ahead of Helio Castroneves in the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Dixon finished 19th after suffering electrical issues in his #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, but not before setting a track record lap of 1min 14.6675secs on lap 30.

Pagenaud retains the championship lead after seven of 16 races with 313 points. Castroneves is second heading into Sunday's second race with 254 points, ahead of Dixon (247), Carlos Munoz (227), Josef Newgarden (227), Montoya (223) and Alexander Rossi (223), who finished tenth in Detroit, six days after winning the 100th Indianapolis 500.