Darren Manning’s season-best fourth place at the Detroit Indy Grand Prix was built on a combination of avoiding trouble for most of the race, and being lucky when trouble found him.
The AJ Foyt Racing driver famously lost a strong position at an earlier street circuit, St Petersburg, by spinning under pressure, but this time the incident-filled race unfolded for him just fine and he never dropped below ninth place.
Starting eighth on the 2.07-mile course, Manning passed Sam Hornish on the opening lap. Ten laps later he scraped the wall, hard enough to mark his tyres but not hard enough to damage the car.
The closest he came to real trouble was during the restart on lap 30, in an incident involving several cars including Hornish and Danica Patrick. The nose on Manning’s No.14 car took a hard hit but he was able to continue.
“The race was looking good at the beginning, but as the track gripped up we just kept getting looser and looser,” he said afterwards.
“It was a little tricky behind the pace car because you picked up a lot of marbles on the tyres which made the restarts harder and is why so many people were crashing.
“I did get in a little tangle with Danica but it didn’t cause any damage for either of us which was good and we did end up with a good result in the end.
“When we set up the car, we planned for more push but that’s not what we got in the race. We didn’t want to make changes during the race and risk it getting worse. It was hard to tell in practice what we really needed to do but we learned in the race what we really need to improve on.”