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IndyCar Detroit

Kirkwood explains IndyCar Detroit GP recovery after losing wing in shunt

Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood has hailed his comeback drive from last place to finish sixth in the Detroit Grand Prix as “phenomenal”.

Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport Honda, Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet crash in turn one

After crashing out of Top 12 qualifying on Saturday, Kirkwood was rear-ended at Turn 3 by Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott on the opening lap of the race around the new 1.7-mile downtown Detroit street course.

The impact smashed his rear wing, requiring his team to fit a new one under caution. They managed to replace it without losing a lap, but it meant the Long Beach Grand Prix winner restarted the race dead last.

“I got hit from behind and cycled back to 27th, which was super-unfortunate but it’s part of IndyCar sometimes, and it’s out of your control – and I’ve had a lot of those this year unfortunately,” Kirkwood told NBC.

“But we stuck with our gut, we stuck with the same strategy we’d planned on doing because we knew we had a really fast car all weekend, so we used that to our advantage among the close racing.

“Our strategy cycled us in front of a lot of cars and we were able to pass a lot of cars because of our pace, and we had great pitstops, so everything played in our favor there. Cycling back to P6, I thought that was phenomenal and I was ready to finish right there!”

Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport Honda, Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet crash at first corner of race

Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport Honda, Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet crash at first corner of race

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Kirkwood said he refrained from attempting to gain any more spots in the caution-packed closing stages once he’d climbed into the top six positions.

He said: “We had those couple of yellows at the end and everyone was just throwing haymakers – I was just trying to stay out of it and keep my nose clean. I nearly got P3 on one of them, but we ended up sixth and I was just happy to finish inside the top 10.

“I’ll take sixth from being 27th, my second-best IndyCar finish.”

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Ilott shouldered the blame for the crash, which wasn’t helped by Kirkwood hanging wide and slowing his car more than those around him before turning in.

“I didn’t really have anywhere to go but it was my bad,” said the Briton.

“I was gaining time on them and they just checked up more than I anticipated in the last bit, and I wasn’t coming with that much more speed but I just couldn’t slow it down on the last part, so sorry to the team and sorry to Kyle, because that didn’t help him either.”

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