It’s raining this morning at Barber Motorsports Park, which can only mean one thing… it’s Verizon IndyCar Series raceday in Alabama!
The 8th Annual Honda Grand Prix of Alabama will go green at 2:42pm (local time) this afternoon. Notice I say that it will, not that it should. I have full confidence that we are going to get this done today, rooster tails and all! The good thing is that I haven’t seen any lightning or heard any thunder this morning. Let’s keep that trend going!
Team Penske is also aiming to continue trends at Barber, and yesterday was a good start with Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevy) winning the pole for the 4th time at this permanent road course, and for the 46th time in his career.
The reigning championship team is sweeping the season thus far on the Verizon P1 Awards. Power also won at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Helio Castroneves (No. 3 AAA Insurnace Chevy) claimed the top grid spot on the streets of Long Beach, earlier this month. The team remains winless this season though, with Honda teams, Dale Coyne Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, seizing victory in the first two contests.
This could be where the drought ends. Team Penske has won 6 out of 7 races on the rollercoaster track that is Barber. If you’ll recall, the past few years in particular, have left everyone on the edge of their seats… yelling out loud in disbelief or just from the pure adrenaline rush induced by the raciness of drivers. Everyone is hoping for the same crazy competition to organically transpire today.
Power had back-to-back victories in 2011 and 2012, the former of those coming from the pole position. He will aim to recreate that outcome today.
Castroneves won the first IndyCar race at Barber, back in 2010 and is looking to end his own personal drought, dating back to Belle Isle in 2014 – the scene of his last fence climb.
Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 Menards Chevy) is the defending race winner, having battled wheel-to-wheel with Graham Rahal (No. 15 Mi-Jack, RLL) and even taking the fight “off-road” as it were, kicking up dust and leaving tracks in the grass when left without much track space on some of the duo’s more aggressive passing opportunities. And boy did it make for good TV! Pagenaud took it all in stride, never losing focus and securing his second victory in a row for 2016.
Josef Newgarden (N0. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevy) is still the new kid on the block at Team Penske, feeling a slight portion of the weight on his shoulders lifted when he grabbed a podium at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He found victory at Barber in 2015 when he drove for CFH Racing and he’s hoping to have that level of success with his current team this weekend.
Coverage for the Verizon IndyCar Series third round of competition, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, will have live coverage on NBCSN today, starting at 2:00 p.m. CT / 3:00 p.m. ET. with the green flag scheduled to drop at 2:42 p.m. CT / 3:42 p.m. ET.
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Photo: Shay Hazen/LFT