Honda goes 1-2-3 in Detroit’s Chevy-sponsored race

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DETROIT (AP) - Honda went 1-2-3 in the Chevrolet-sponsored Detroit Grand Prix in the shadow of General Motors world headquarters.

Scott Dixon won Sunday’s race that was shortened because poor track conditions stopped the races for 2 hours and was followed by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti and rookie Simon Pagenaud.

IndyCar points leader Will Power finished fourth, the best finish by a Chevy-powered car.

“It’s a testament to everybody that works at Honda on the racing,” Pagenaud said. “The first (four) races were all Chevy wins. Honda stayed in the game.

“They found what we needed and I think we can attest here that we really enjoy driving the engine. The engine is behaving really nicely, and it’s performing really well.”

Penske Racing started the season with a four-race winning streak with Helio Castroneves earning the first and Power getting the next three victories.

Teams with Honda engines have had improved performance after IndyCar allowed them to make turbocharger changes, much to Roger Penske’s dismay, to catch up to Chevy’s power.

Dixon’s first victory of the year followed Franchitti winning the Indianapolis 500 the previous week.

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ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: The Detroit Grand Prix was back in the Motor City for the first time since 2008 and it has two more years left on a contract with Chevrolet to sponsor the race and IndyCar to keep the event on its schedule.

Roger Penske’s Michigan-based company invested a lot of money into sprucing up Belle Isle after four years of neglect tarnished the gem, but patching up the road course didn’t go very well. There were numerous holes in the asphalt and concrete. Pot holes and grooves that were recently filled with synthetic rubber became exposed. Crews filled the gaps with epoxy that settled enough for the race to resume after a 2-hour delay.

Detroit Grand Prix event chairman Bud Denker vowed that track conditions wouldn’t be a problem again next year.

“We have more paving than patching to do that’s for sure,” Denker said.

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DEFENDING DUD: Justin Wilson was fired up to be back on Belle Isle after winning the 2008 Detroit Grand Prix, the last time auto racing was in the Motor City.

His excitement didn’t last long.

Wilson didn’t complete a lap before he was knocked out of the race because of a suspension failure. The Dale Coyne Racing team fixed the problem well enough to get Wilson back on the track later in the race, but he completed just 28 of the 60 laps.

“Not a great day,” he said. “We brushed the wall, bent the wishbone and I’m really disappointed with that. That ended our day pretty much. The guys worked hard trying to give us a good car and we got caught up.”

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SUH SPEED: Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the grand marshal of the Detroit Grand Prix after serving in the same role at the Phoenix 500 NASCAR race earlier this year.

“It’s definitely a blast for me to be here,” Suh said. “I’ve love racing ever since I had an opportunity to get into it. My first race out here would have been at MIS (Michigan International Speedway) with NASCAR. And then I’ve gone across the world and ventured off, and been to Formula One and obviously the Indianapolis 500.”

“You get to hear those engines roar, and you get that thrill. It’s like getting ready to start the beginning of a football game or being lucky enough to introduce Kid Rock at one of his concerts.”

Suh was among the celebrities in last year’s Gumball 3000 Rally, a seven-day car race stretching across 10 European countries.

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SPARK PLUGS: IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard confirmed before Sunday’s race that an August event scheduled in China may not happen. “We have a backup plan,” he said, declining to provide details. … Graham Rahal and Simona de Silvestro were pushed back 10 spots on the grid at the start of the race, getting penalized by IndyCar for unapproved engine changes at Indianapolis 500. Rahal started 17th and finished 19th while de Silvestro went from 25 to 13.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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