Detroit Grand Prix: Helio Castroneves Out, Jimmie Johnson In

Written By Drew Ellis on June 4, 2021

After a historic Indianapolis 500 result last Sunday, the IndyCar Series turns its attention to the Detroit Grand Prix.

Next weekend, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will take place on Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 13.

These two full races will have a major impact on the IndyCar standings. Here are some early storylines heading into next weekend.

How to watch the Detroit Grand Prix

Odds are not out yet for the Detroit Grand Prix. Each race will be its own unique event.

Michigan sports bettors will see odds released for Saturday’s race sometime next week. Odds for Sunday’s race will be made available following Saturday’s event.

New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell is pretty fired up to be named Grand Marshal of the event.

Here’s the lowdown on the two races next weekend:

  • What: 2021 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
  • When: June 12-13 (Saturday-Sunday)
  • Where: The Raceway on Belle Isle
  • Track Type: Road Course
  • Race Distance: 200 miles (90 laps), each day
  • Start Time: 2 p.m. ET Saturday, Noon ET Sunday
  • TV Broadcast: NBC
  • Radio Broadcast: SiriusXM, INDYCAR Radio
  • Online viewing: NBCSports.com
  • Weather Forecast: Saturday — partly cloudy, high 81; Sunday — partly cloudy, high 77. There is a 25% chance of rain each day.

Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves not scheduled

Following his historic fourth Indianapolis 500 victory last Sunday, Helio Castroneves will not be taking part in the Detroit Grand Prix.

Castroneves is part of Meyer Shank Racing in 2021 and is contracted to compete in six races. The Indy 500 is the only IndyCar race in which Castroneves was scheduled to compete.

“As of right now, I have nothing official for Detroit. Really upset about it because Detroit is a dear place to my heart,” Castroneves told the Detroit Free Press. “I love the track (and) being there so many years race for Roger (Penske) and it’s a place that gave me a lot of success. So, it is very difficult not to be there.”

Indeed, Detroit has been a pretty good track for Castroneves. He won one of the two dual races in 2014, and also was a 2000 and 2001 victor at the track as part of the CART/Champ Car Series.

NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson to compete

One of NASCAR’s greatest stock car drivers, Jimmie Johnson, will be competing in both races at Belle Isle next weekend, however.

The seven-time Cup Series champion may have retired from NASCAR, but Johnson has decided to dip his toe into the IndyCar Series in 2021.

Electing to stick to mainly road courses this year, Johnson will be part of the field in Detroit for his fourth and fifth IndyCar races of the season.

“I wanted to start my first year competing on-road street courses. Just feel like it’s a safer approach. I just want to stay away from the ovals until (I have) a much better understanding of what the sport was like,” Johnson told the Detroit Free Press. “There are many roads and street circuits that (I’ve) always dreamed of racing on, including the physical challenge of Belle Isle. It just all fell into place. I can’t wait for the doubleheader.”

Johnson made his Indianapolis 500 debut last weekend, finishing 24th. He placed 19th in the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama to open the year and was 22nd in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Scott Dixon seeks fourth win at Belle Isle

Although betting odds in Michigan are not currently out for the Detroit Grand Prix, Scott Dixon is likely to be among the favorites when the are released.

Dixon currently sits second in the IndyCar Series standings and is coming off a disappointing 17th-place finish at the Indy 500. Dixon entered the 500 weekend as the favorite, but ran out of gas prior to his first pit stop.

Bouncing back has been pretty common for Dixon. After finishing 17th in the 2019 Indy 500, he came back by winning one of the two Detroit races.

The six-time IndyCar Series champion has won three times at Belle Isle, the most of any driver since IndyCar returned to the track in 2007.

Alex Palou climbs to top of standings

Alex Palou was just half-a-second away from winning his first Indy 500 last weekend.

The 24-year-old Spaniard finished runner-up to Castroneves in just his second Indianapolis 500 appearance.

However, Palou comes to Detroit leading the IndyCar standings with his fourth top-five finish in six races.

Palou has 248 points on the season, with Dixon in second at 212. He opened his 2021 season with a win in the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, his first in the series.

Detroit will be a challenge for the young driver, as he will be competing at Belle Isle for the first time.

Photo by Michael Conroy/AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis has lived in Michigan his whole life, and has been writing professionally for the last 21 years. Ellis has covered anything from youth baseball in mid-Michigan, a top-25 college football program, and pro sports in the Detroit area. Always keeping busy, Ellis also has over 10 years of experience in covering sports betting, handling all major sports.

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