IndyCar drivers expect higher speeds on Belle Isle next year

Short version used last year
Long Version (flipped over) used by CART in early 2000s and now copied by IndyCar

Team Penske driver Will Power talked about genuine speed at Belle Isle on Tuesday, where it was announced that the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on May 31-June 2, 2013, will be raced over a longer, faster track.

"It's going to be 190 miles per hour, man — maybe 185," he said.

Power and nine other Chevy-powered IndyCar drivers, including this year's series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, were at the island when organizers revealed the current 2.1-mile track would be extended at Turn 3 to make it a 2.35-mile course for next year's race.

With the extension, the track would revert to a similar configuration used by CART there in 2001, providing more passing opportunities and increasing speeds. Power, runner-up in the IndyCar championship this season, was excited with the prospect.

"It's fantastic they're extending it," Power said. "That makes for really good passing and a better track all up. It's kind of what this place needs. We should go very fast."

On Tuesday, Bud Denker, event chairman of the Grand Prix, led a caravan of SUVs around the Raceway at Belle Isle that stopped to inspect ongoing extensive repairs costing more than $1 million to the course that were required following June's race when the track split at the seams during the Grand Prix, bringing out a red flag and stopping the event for a couple of hours.

With Power at the wheel of one vehicle and Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti piloting another, fellow racers Hunter-Reay, Ryan Briscoe, Tony Kanaan, Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand, Oriol Servia, Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge rode along on a firsthand tour of the circuit.

"We are way, way ahead of the curve on work schedule," Denker said during the inspection, which saw workers pouring cement in sections of the track, mainly between Turns 5-12, which crumbled, forcing makeshift repairs to get the race restarted. "We'll have everything done and ready to go before winter."

IndyCar last week announced that Belle Isle would be one of three stops on the 2013 calendar to host a doubleheader race weekend next season. The two IndyCar races will be held over equal distances of 70 laps on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday's race is expected to be from a Formula One-type standing start and Sunday's a traditional IndyCar rolling start.

"I think this will be massive," Hunter-Reay said, reacting to the Belle Isle track extension news. "It's a big deal. It gives us a great passing zone."

Kanaan embraced lengthening Belle Isle.

"I'm excited," said Kanaan, a multiple winner at Belle Isle. "They promised to get the track fixed in time, and that's Roger's style. The extension to the race course makes Detroit the toughest and most difficult racetrack we compete on." Detroit Free Press

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