Graham Rahal wins 1st of 2 Detroit Grand Prix IndyCar races

Behind came James Hinchcliffe of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda, followed by the three Penske-Chevrolets of Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden who made a tactical blunder by starting on reds when the track was at its slowest and then switching to blacks.

Rahal's wife, Courtney Force, escaped without injury in a qualifying run Friday in Epping, N.H. Her vehicle, owned by her father, John Force, had a fuel line burst to create the spectacular visual.

Josef Newgarden, driving for Team Penske, was fourth in the only auto with a Chevy engine among the top seven in the 22-car field.

After being caught up in crashes at St. Pete and Phoenix, Rahal had another disappointing result last weekend at Indianapolis when he charged from 18th to third only to have a right rear tire go flat.

Rahal had set the qualifying record in the Group 1 session of drivers with a time of 1:13.968 in the No. 15 Honda and will sit on the front row alongside Castroneves for today's Race No. 1 at 3:30 p.m. Other notable finishers were three-time Detroit champion Helio Castroneves, who finished in seventh place, and this year's Indianapolis 500 victor Takuma Sato in eighth.

More news: US employers add 138000 jobs; rate dips to 4.3 percent

THE DROUGHT: Helio Castroneves trailed only Rahal with 11 laps led, but finished seventh to extend his winless streak to 51 races since winning his third Detroit Grand Prix in 2014.

Rahal's father won the Detroit Grand Prix in 1992, the first year the race was run on Belle Isles after it was previously run on a street course through downtown Detroit.

Unlike the other road and street courses throughout the year, qualifying around the streets of Detroit is rather unique, with the field split into two segments and the overall fastest driver securing pole position, with that driver's group forming the grid in the odd-numbered positions. The pole is his first since 2009 and the team's first since 2007. "It's upsetting because it's not many times you have a phenomenal vehicle".

Scott Dixon finished second in Detroit to regain the IndyCars series lead.

  • Tabitha Byrd