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Race Weekend Preview – June 2-3, 2018

There are five races we are watching this weekend, two NASCAR races from Pocono and three races, one IMSA and two IndyCar races from Detroit.

NASCAR at Pocono

The headliner at the Pocono Raceway this weekend is the MENCS Pocono 400 race on Sunday, a 400-mile race around the 2.5-mile triangular race track.
Last year Ryan Blaney held off Kevin Harvick to take the win. So far this year, Blaney has put up strong performances but he has yet to win a race. Harvick, on the other hand, has already won five of the 13 points races. Kyle Busch had a dominant win at Charlotte last week and that win, combined with his three other wins so far this year, has to make him another favorite to win this week.
On Saturday, the Xfinity Series cars will race here in the Pocono Green 250. There are only three Cup regulars entered in this race – Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota, Paul Menard in the No. 22 Ford and Chase Elliott in the No. 23 Chevrolet. Brad Keselowski took the No. 22 Ford to victory circle last week at Charlotte – it will be interesting to see how well Menard can do in that car this week. Last year, Keselowski won here in that No. 22 car. Of course, Busch is always a favourite in any race he enters.
The Xfinity race will be broadcast in TSN5 on Saturday at 1:00 pm
The MENCS race will be broadcast on Sunday on TSN5 at 2:00P

IndyCar at Belle Isle in Detroit

Indycar runs a double-header Saturday-Sunday event here at Belle Isle again this year. It is the sole remainder of an idea that IndyCar once tried to foist on a number of events including Toronto.
The grid for each of the two races is determined in two qualifying sessions, one each morning before that day’s race. The track here is a narrow, twisty, 2.35-mile, 13-turn temporary ‘street course’ laid out on the roadways of the park on Belle Isle in the Detroit River just upstream of the downtown core.
Last year, Graham Rahal won both races, finishing ahead of Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe on Saturday and ahead of Josef Newgarden and Will Power on Sunday.
As for the Canadian drivers, Hinchcliffe is entered alongside this year’s teammate Robert Wickens while Zachary Claman de Melo is sitting this one out. Both will be hoping for good results this year. Hinchcliffe, who failed to qualify for the Indy 500 field will be hoping to turn things around this week. Since the Indy 500, his race engineer Leena Gade has left the team and has been replaced – on a part-time basis – by Will Anderson who had been loaned out to Jack Harvey’s team for the six races he plans to run. Meanwhile, his teammate Robert Wickens, who had a shot at winning both of the first two races this year – including the one on the temporary street circuit at St. Petersburg, has to be a threat here at Belle Isle. The results from last week’s Indy 500 tell us little or nothing about the drivers’ prospects here at Detroit.
Both races – Saturday and Sunday – will be broadcast on ABC network as well as the Sportsnet SN1 and SN360 starting 3:30 pm both days.

IMSA Weathertech at Belle Isle/Detroit

On Saturday, IMSA will run at Belle Isle as a preliminary race to the Indy car race that day. Given how tight the race track is, IMSA has limited the entry to just the prototypes and the GT-Daytona class cars, a total of 25 cars – leaving the GTLM cars out of the race – and the race length is limited to just 100 minutes.
There are 14 prototypes entered with all the usual suspects. In the previous four races this year, the Cadillac DPi has won twice – both times by the No. 5 Mustang Sampling car. Sebring went to the No. 22 Nissan while Mid-Ohio was a win for the No. 7 Penske Acura of Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor.
Last year The Cadillac DPi won the first seven of the year’s 12 races, five of those wins – including the race here at Belle Isle – going to the Taylor brothers. This year, they are split up, with Ricky going to Penske, but Jordan is now paired with Renger Van Der Zande and one has to imagine that they will soon earn a win in their own right.
In GTD there are 11 entries. Last year, Andy Lally and Katherine Legge won this class here in their Acura but car owner Michael Shank is only running Legge (teamed with Alvaro Parente) in the long-distance ‘endurance’ races this year. Meanwhile Lally will be driving an Audi R8 with John Potter in this race. So far this year, Bryan Seller and Madison Snow are leading in points in their Lamborghini – and they are entered for this weekend’s race.
The IMSA Weathertech race will be broadcast on Fox Sports Racing in Canada on Saturday at 12:30 pm.

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