Drivers praise Bell Isle changes The Penske-led Detroit Grand Prix organization spent approximately $2 million after last year's embarrassing, the-track-is-hurling-concrete-at-the-drivers race experience that forced a prolonged red flag for repairs, and with 12 months to rectify the situation, and to make a few alterations to the configuration to improve the flow, drivers had nothing but praise to offer on Friday.
“It's fun to drive,” said Rahal Letterman Lanigan's James Jakes after qualifying fourth for Race 1. “It slows a lot better than the old one used to do. When you go down into three, four, five, six, it's fun. The asphalt and concrete, you get a balance shift mid entry to the corner. A big thank-you to the Penske organization for doing such a great job here, making it so fun to drive.”
Andretti Autosport's E.J. Viso, who qualified second, mirrored Jakes' comments.
“I think this grand prix every time is getting stronger,” said the Venezuelan, who also qualified second at Brazil last month. “The changes they've been doing, for sure they needed to do changes for this car on the tarmac and the asphalt joints. They did a great job. It definitely keeps us very busy due to all the grip changes. It's fun. It's the same for everyone.”
Reverting back to a longer 2.3-mile layout – extending the run into Turn 3 changing turn 4 and 5 altogether--was just as popular as the new track surface.
“Looking forward to racing again on this format of track,” said pole winner Dario Franchitti. “I think for several reasons we had to use the small layout. Roger Penske and Bud [Denker] and Charles [Burns] got back to the extended layout. It's a lot of hard work gone into this venue. It's really cool to work with a promoter that you point something out on the track walk and it's literally done an hour later. You get a phone call, Mate, it's done.
“It's bloody impressive, and there's more improvements on the way. We should be racing here. It's the Motor City, isn't it?” Racer.com
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