DETROIT — Sebastien Bourdais held off Takuma Sato over the final three laps of Race 2 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans to collect his 33rd Indy car victory.
The fuel was set up when a red flag was displayed on Lap 65 of the scheduled 70-lap race as the Holmatro Safety Team cleaned up debris from an incident involving Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves, who made contact in Turn 2 of the 14-turn, 2.35-mile street circuit on a restart.
INDYCAR called for a timed race, and Bourdais — whose No. 11 Team Mistic E-Cigs KVSH Racing Chevrolet was low on fuel — had 2 minutes, 50 seconds left to defend.
The four-time Champ car champion, who started ninth on entrant points after a downpour cancelled the late-morning qualifications, finished 1.7644 seconds ahead of Sato in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda after 68 laps completed. Though sipping Sunoco E85, Bourdais’ car posted the fastest lap of the race charging to the checkered flag.
He is the seventh different winner in eight races this season.
Graham Rahal finished third in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for his third podium in the past five races. Tristan Vautier gave Dale Coyne Racing its best finish this season in fourth after starting 23rd and Marco Andretti, runner-up in Race 1 on May 30, finished fifth in the No. 27 Merchant First/Snapple Honda for Andretti Autosport.
Conor Daly, substituting for the injured James Hinchcliffe in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in the doubleheader, led 12 laps early and finished sixth.
Pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya, who led a field-high 35 laps, slipped to 10th on the final lap as the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet ran out of fuel. The recently-crowned Indianapolis 500 winner still maintained the championship points lead (315-294 over Power) at the halfway point of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.
“We had a really good Verizon Chevy today. It was really good in the rain as we jumped out to a big lead. It looked to be a nice day for the team,” Montoya said. “We gained points on Will with a 10th-place finish so it’s not a terrible day.”
Bourdais inherited the lead on Lap 51 when Daly pitted under caution for fuel and a change from rain tires to Firestone alternates, and was aided in fuel conservation by four yellow flags over the duration. Sato overtook Montoya on a Lap 65 restart before the yellow flag flew for the Castroneves-Power contact, which was instigated by Power’s No. 1 Verizon Team Penske car being clipped from behind.
The entries were called to pit lane under the red flag, and KVSH Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser and AJ Foyt Racing president Larry Foyt strategized with their veteran drivers.
“It was just about as nerve-racking as it gets,” Bourdais said. “When we elected to stay out (instead of pitting late for fuel) I was like, ‘Oh, man, it’s all or nothing.’ All I could hope for was the same scenario as NOLA (with) complicated conditions and one yellow after another. It was the right call again today. The difference is we obviously deserved it because the boys worked really hard and we were on the pace, we passed a bunch of cars and made the moves when it mattered. We made it stick all the way to the end.”
Sato, who started 15th, earned his first podium finish since Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2013.
“It was a long race, but it was a fantastic show,” he said. “It was difficult to overtake today with the greasy conditions, but after we made a good call and the boys did a fantastic job with the pit stops. Every restart was very exciting, especially the last few. We needed a little bit more (for the win) but it was a great day for AJ Foyt Racing.”
In Race 1, Carlos Munoz earned his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory. Simon Pagenaud clinched his first podium finish as a Team Penske driver.