Josef Newgarden won the 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

The confetti flies in Victory Circle as Josef Newgarden wins the 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park — Photo by: Chris Jones

Starting from 7th place Car 2 Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet won the 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. This is his 1st win with Team Penske in the 3rd race of the season & being with the team. 2nd Place Car 9 Scott Dixon, Honda, started from 4th place followed by 3rd place Car 1 Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, started from 3rd place.

Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, and Simon Pagenaud hoist their trophies in Victory Circle following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Chris Jones

4th Place Car 3 Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, started from 2nd place followed by 5th place Car 98 Alexander Rossi, Honda, started from 18th place. 6th Place Car 5 James Hinchcliffe, Honda, started from 6th place followed by 7th place Car 10 Tony Kanaan, Honda, started from 10th place. 8th Place Car 18 Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, started from 12th place followed by 9th place Car 26 Takuma
Sato, Honda, started from 14th place. Lastly in the Top 10 was Car 7 Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, in 10th place, started from 8th place.

Will Power leads the field into Turn 1 during the start of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Joe Skibinski

The race had 2 Cautions for 7 laps: 1st Caution on lap 3 for Debris in Turn 4. 2nd Caution on lap 63 for Spin: Car 20 Zach Veach, Chevrolet in Turn 6.

Carlos Munoz leads a group to the Turn 8-9 Esses complex during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Chris Jones

The race had 8 Lead changes among 5 drivers: Lap Leaders: Power 1-20, Castroneves 21-22, Dixon 23-24, Power 25-43, Dixon 44, Power 45-63, Kimball 64-74, Power 75-76, Newgarden 77-90

Josef Newgarden leads Scott Dixon into Turn 12 during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Joe Skibinski

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Bourdais 117, Dixon 111, Newgarden 110, Pagenaud 106, Hinchcliffe 102, Castroneves 84, Hunter-Reay 65, Sato 65, Jones 62, Rossi 60.

Josef Newgarden leads the field down pit lane during the first yellow flag period of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Bret Kelley

Newgarden races to second Barber Motorsports Park win, first with Team Penske

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Sunday, April 23, 2017) – Josef Newgarden added to the growing bank of fond memories he is accumulating at Barber Motorsports Park, driving to victory today in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First.

Newgarden’s win by 1.0495 seconds over Scott Dixon is his second on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn permanent road course and comes two years after he secured his first career Verizon IndyCar Series victory at the same track. It also is the 26-year-old American’s first win since joining Team Penske, which took three of the top four finishing positions in the 90-lap race.

James Hincchliffe sets up for Turn 12 during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Joe Skibinski

HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA:

Driving the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet, Newgarden took the lead for the first and only time on Lap 77 when teammate Will Power was forced to pit in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske with a punctured left rear tire.

“This is a good one to have, I think we earned it,” said Newgarden, who started the race seventh. “This was a great car this weekend. We were on it.

“I think it was shaping up to be a really great battle for me, Dixon and Will, and it ended just being between Dixon and me. I feel bad for Will. I wish he could have been in that with us, but sometimes that’s the way it rolls.”

Dixon finished second for the fifth time at Barber and for the 34th time in his Indy car career, tying Michael Andretti for fourth all time. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has reached the podium seven times in the eight races on the Alabama track but never won.

Dixon jumped two spots in the season standings to second place and is within six points of the championship lead after the third of 17 races this season. But the driver of the No. 9 NTT Data Honda lamented the pass Newgarden made on him for second place on a Lap 69 restart.

“I saw him late coming into (Turn) 15 or 16 on the last restart and I tried to turn down, but the car was just so neutral I just didn’t have the rear grip to pull it off,” Dixon said. “Kudos to Josef; he drove a hell of a race and the win was well deserved. The NTT Data car was strong in the race. I think we actually had the speed. I think if we would have had clean air in that race, we would have checked out.”

Simon Pagenaud, last year’s Barber race winner and Verizon IndyCar Series champion, placed third in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, just ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet. Alexander Rossi, winner of last year’s historic 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, gained the most positions from start to finish of any driver, going from 18th on the grid to wind up fifth in the No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda.

Power, bidding for his third win at Barber, led 60 laps but wound up finishing in 14th place.

“I held on as long as I could, but I knew (the tire) was going down – you could feel it,” he said. “We’ll move on to the next one. I’m thankful to my crew, Verizon, the whole team. They put a great effort in and that’s how racing goes sometimes.”

Newgarden, in his sixth Verizon IndyCar Series season, collected his first win for Team Penske in just his third race with the prolific organization whose 188 Indy car wins are the most in history.

By comparison, it took Power five races, Castroneves seven and Pagenaud 19 to get their first wins for the team.

“It’s a group effort (at Team Penske) – all four of these guys work together,” Newgarden said. “I’m thrilled for the (No.) 2 car guys, but this is a team effort with all four cars. So, whoever is in victory lane, we just want to get someone there with Team Penske.”

Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, in the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda, finished eighth in the race to retain the championship lead. Bourdais has accumulated 117 points, with Dixon second at 111, Newgarden third with 110, Pagenaud fourth with 106 and James Hinchcliffe fifth at 102.

Barber officials announced a three-day attendance of 82,745, which equated to a ticket revenue increase of more than 10 percent from last year.

“We are extremely encouraged by the fact that our ticket revenue has increased for the fourth straight year,” said Gene Hallman, CEO of ZOOM Motorsports, the exclusive event promoter of Barber Motorsports Park. “INDYCAR has so much positive momentum and we look forward to the continued growth of the sport.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to the iconic 1.022-mile Phoenix Raceway oval April 29 for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix under the lights. Race coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Conor Daly comes in for tires and fuel on pit lane during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Chris Jones

Alonso visits Barber ahead of Indianapolis 500 preparations

A racer is a racer is a racer. If nothing more can be gleaned from Fernando Alonso’s visit today to Barber Motorsports Park – and his plan to race in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28 – it’s that racers share one goal: to be faster than the rest, no matter the car or venue.

And to do that, they occasionally need assistance from other racers.

The two-time Formula One champion explained that he’ll need help to be competitive at Indianapolis next month, so he’s relying on his five temporary teammates at Andretti Autosport – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato and Jack Harvey – to help him get up to speed.

“I need to learn all of these things,” Alonso said. “To learn them alone would take two years. To learn it with some help would take six months. But I have two weeks. I will need a lot of help.”

Alonso has 32 F1 victories and championships in 2005 and 2006 to his credit. Aside from some Indy 500 warmups on a simulator in Italy, though, he has no experience with Indianapolis Motor Speedway,
oval tracks or Indy cars.

“I will need the help to be competitive,” he said. “I’m very open-minded, knowing that the series is completely different, the cars are completely different and superspeedways require a driving technique and a driving feeling that’s completely different and that I don’t have yet.”

Alonso met his teammates Saturday night after arriving at Barber to watch today’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First. From there, he’ll travel to Andretti Autosport headquarters in Indianapolis on Monday for a seat fitting and more time on a simulator. He’ll then travel to Sochi, Russia, for next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix and his fulltime job with the McLaren Honda F1 team before returning to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a solo test in the McLaren-Andretti Honda on May 3.

That’s when the sorting of the details will commence.

“The setup of the car is extremely important, because the difference is in milliseconds,” Alonso said. “To set up the car for different parts of the race in different wind direction and fuel loads in the car, tire degradation – there are many things that you need to make small adjustments, apparently, that I have no idea about.”

For now, Alonso is just taking as much in as he can and relying on his fellow racers in the process.

“There are many, many things – more than people can imagine,” Alonso said. “There are little things when you’re driving at those speeds and you have all those things going on – the radio, etc. – but we are professional drivers and we should be able to deal with it.”

Herta wins 400th race in Indy Lights history

Colton Herta etched his name into Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires history when he became the series’ youngest winner last month. He further solidified his place in Indy Lights annals today at Barber Motorsports Park when he won the series’ 400th race.

Starting from the pole position, the 17-year-old phenom led all 35 laps in the No. 98 Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing Deltro Energy Dallara IL-15 and crossed the finish line 9.1465 seconds over Juncos Racing’s Kyle Kaiser. Herta, who leads the Indy Lights standings by 16 points over Kaiser after four of 16 races, became the youngest winner in series history March 12 at St. Petersburg when he was
16 years, 11 months, 12 days old.

Sebastien Bourdais leads a group through the Turn 8-9 Esses during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Chris Jones

“What They’re Saying” from Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “You’re racing and you just want to go as hard as you can, but we couldn’t do it. The Menards Chevy had tremendous pace at the end. We struggled a little bit at the starts, and we adjusted the car during the race. I was very happy with the reds and on blacks at the end, it was good. We lost a lot of spots when Josef (Newgarden)
hit me and I went in the grass in (Turn) 5. That’s where I think we potentially lost the race win, but it is what it is. It was a good day overall. We transformed a tough start this season into good results and I think that’s the key for the championship.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama race winner): “That was an awesome day. This is what we work for as an entire group. We always want to get one of these cars in victory lane. And, for (teammate) Will Power, I feel so bad for those boys on the 12 Verizon car – they were on it today and I feel like it would have been a great battle between Will, myself and Scott (Dixon). But it ended up just being Scott and myself. It’s a group effort here (at Team Penske) – all four of these guys work together. I’m thrilled for the (No.) 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevy guys but this is a team effort with all four cars. So whoever is in victory lane – we just want to get someone there with Team Penske.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet): “With a little bit of luck with the yellow, Will (Power) cutting the tire and (James) Hinchcliffe going off, we were able to get back into the top four. The AAA Chevy was really good, actually. It was just unfortunate with the black tires which actually had good balance, but were a little bit slow. When you had the Firestone reds, it was fast but it was too loose to control. Saving fuel toward the end was a little bit hard. Congrats to Josef (Newgarden) on his first win (with Team Penske). He’s not the rookie anymore. That’s why Roger (Penske) keeps hiring young talent and we keep pushing.”

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Chevrolet): “I thought that was one of the hardest fought races I’ve ever driven. I passed (Max) Chilton on the outside of Turn 13. I was super happy with that. We were making moves. We weren’t just sitting back and that was really nice to do. I felt like we had the car to attack. I was able to make some moves, had some fun, but issues outside of my
control are still plaguing us. But all of that stuff comes around so hopefully, we can have things go our way at some point. Until then I’m going to still try and do my job.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “I feel bad for the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports guys. The Arrow Electronics Honda was good enough for a podium, but I tried to go around the outside of Simon (Pagenaud) on the restart and lost a couple of spots. It’s just so hard to pass – track position is everything here. I’m a bit bummed. The guys deserved a little more today, but I guess overall it’s a good thing when you’re disappointed with a sixth-place finish.”

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It was a difficult race for us. It ended up pretty good; we had really good pace throughout the race. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team did a fantastic job to build the car for this race, and that’s why we were so competitive. We were a little unlucky during pit stops, but besides that, I think we had a pretty strong race. I’m really happy we finished in the top 10 and brought the team some points. We’ll take it! We’ll head home and prepare for Phoenix and be even more competitive there.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “It was a very up and down day, actually kind of an up and down weekend. We didn’t start the weekend all that great, but then we qualified well. We were pretty quick in the morning warm-up in the wet and in the race we had one of the best race paces, we just lost positions where it really counted on the start and restarts. It’s just frustrating because we have really good speed out there, we just can’t get the luck we need and put it all together.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): “What a great race here at Barber. Another second-place finish for the 9 car. I think that’s our fifth runner-up here. One of these days we’re going to win here. We had a great NTT Data car and we were right up in the mix for the win at the end. We just didn’t have enough there, but all in all a good points day for the team. I saw (Josef Newgarden) late coming into (Turn) 15 or 16 on the last restart and I tried to turn down but the car was just so neutral I just didn’t have the rear grip to pull it off. Kudos to Josef – he drove a hell of a race and the win was well deserved. The NTT Data car was strong in the race. I think we actually had the speed – I think if we would have had clean air in that race we would have checked out. I feel bad for Will Power too – I think maybe a flat tire there or something. It was definitely a good fight.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “We’re moving in the right direction for sure. I think it goes without saying that I want to finish a lot higher than seventh, but I’ll take a top-10 after the way this season has started. We had a pretty clean race and our stops were good, we just couldn’t get up with the lead pack. I have a good track record at Phoenix, so hopefully we can come away
with a good result next weekend.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was such a great effort all around. But the car was awesome. It was so fast. I feel bad. I could feel it starting to bottom and then started having issues in some fast corners. I held on as long as I could but I knew (the tire) was going down – you could feel it. We’ll move on to the next one. I’m thankful to my crew, Verizon, the whole team – they put a great effort in and that’s how racing goes sometimes.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “This was a really long day, it was one of my toughest races in the Verizon IndyCar series. It started out OK and then after the first pit stop we just lost the car totally – there was zero grip in the car. I’m not sure what happened. So I just wanted to finish the race and not go off track. It was my toughest race at Barber. We just have to sit down and see what happened and learn from it.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “It was a frustrating day because we were just mired in traffic all day. Part of our strategy was to try to get clean air and every time we tried, someone would come out (on track, from the pits) in front of us. We just pretty much cruised around all day. That’s what we get for qualifying where we did. We need to maximize these weekends. We need some luck here soon.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda): “I’m really happy for the whole crew. Everybody did a really good job, we had solid pit stops. We didn’t have a great weekend at all. Performance wise we were average the whole time and I was very unhappy with the car so to salvage a top 10 and P8 like that in circumstances where there really wasn’t much going on, you have to feel pretty good about it. I think we learned a few things this weekend for the road course which we haven’t had many opportunities this year with the testing restrictions and it’s going to help us to get the car better for the rest of the season, so that was key to understanding what was doing what. I’m not sure we understand everything yet but today was a pretty big step in validating some of the things we understood. Now on to the next one.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “It was a frustrating start to the race. I caught some debris that wasn’t really avoidable. That put us to the back of the field. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have the pace today so I think we would have struggled even if we were up there from the beginning. It was a tough day but, again, I learned a lot. I feel we’ll be better for the next one. Phoenix is up next and that’s the first oval of the year so it will be interesting to see how we get on.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “We were making good progress, we were all the way up to eight after starting 17th. The car was feeling really good and the Fuzzy’s Vodka guys did a great job in the pits. We were definitely going forward. I made a small mistake trying to pass a car that wasn’t even for position, I got on the power a little too hard out of Turn 5 and spun the car. It’s unfortunate to have our race change that way. It was looking really promising for another very solid top-10 finish, at least. I feel sorry for the guys, they worked very hard this weekend. We are getting better all the time. This time was a mistake on my part that cost us. Next time I will do better.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Overall, I’m pretty happy with our first Verizon IndyCar Series weekend. For what it was coming in here on short notice and a limited amount of time to get familiar with the car, I’m really happy with the progress that we made. I couldn’t have done it without the help of JR Hildebrand and the entire crew at Ed Carpenter Racing. Everyone here was so open to helping get me up to speed. They helped me from Lap 1 all the way to the end of the race. This was the longest race I’ve ever done in my life and part of that was learning how to save fuel and doing my first real race pit stops. I’m pretty happy with how it went. Granted, I think we would have loved to have a little more speed, but with the amount of time I had in the car, to come home where we did I think says a lot.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It was a difficult weekend, but I think the start was pretty exciting. I overtook a couple of cars and had a really good start. After that, I struggled on the pace a little bit. During the first stint, I had issues braking. So, first I had to move the bias all the way on the front. Then later on we lost one brake, so it felt like three-wheel braking – that was a shame. Over the course of the stint, I think I was getting better and better over time because we kept making the right adjustments. I think we held on well and the guys did well on the pit stops. Ninth is not perfect, but I think where we are it was a good points day and result for us.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): “Disappointing day for the 27 team. We were fast Friday and fast this morning (in warmup), but issues set us back on the start of the race and there was just no way to get the laps back. I feel bad for the crew and want to thank them for sticking in there, they worked hard all weekend and gave me a fast car but we just weren’t able to do anything with the hand we were dealt today.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We started fifth with the DHL car, which was positive since we started 18th here last year, so we were looking forward to capitalizing on that and then lost ground on the start. At the beginning of the race (James) Hinchcliffe just tracked out and hit me, the contact broke our front wing. We went to the back and worked our way to what should have been a 10-place finish, but then Mikhail (Aleshin) knocked me off the track right at the end. It was an eventful day, but not the finish we were looking for. Looking forward to moving on to Phoenix.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “Overall we tried an alternate strategy and I don’t know if it gained us many spots, but it was worth the effort for sure. I think without the length of that last yellow, we definitely had the speed in the 83 car to go forward and pass some of those guys who were trying to save fuel. It’s too bad we didn’t have a dry warmup this morning, because we could’ve validated some of the changes we made overnight. We obviously found a lot of speed compared to qualifying yesterday – I think my fast lap was well within the top 10 today. The pit stops were great. We definitely made up ground there. I’m proud of the guys’ efforts getting through these first few races with me. We have some momentum now heading into the Phoenix and then hopefully that will get even stronger heading into the month of May.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti/Curb Honda): “We knew based on our starting position that we had to come up with something different. We knew we were stopping early, then it was about how fast we can go while saving fuel. The team did a good job and gave me a good car. Considering we started 18th, a top five is really good. We worked really hard overnight and tried to understand where we made mistakes this weekend. We’ll use it as a learning experience and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

James Hinchcliffe races up the hill toward Turn 5 during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Joe Skibinski

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Results Sunday of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Verizon IndyCar Series event at the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, Car #, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (7) Car 2 Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 90, Running
2. (4) Car 9 Scott Dixon, Honda, 90, Running
3. (3) Car 1 Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 90, Running
4. (2) Car 3 Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 90, Running
5. (18) Car 98 Alexander Rossi, Honda, 90, Running
6. (6) Car 5 James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 90, Running
7. (10) Car 10 Tony Kanaan, Honda, 90, Running
8. (12) Car 18 Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 90, Running
9. (14) Car 26 Takuma Sato, Honda, 90, Running
10. (8) Car 7 Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 90, Running
11. (5) Car 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 90, Running
12. (9) Car 8 Max Chilton, Honda, 90, Running
13. (21) Car 15 Graham Rahal, Honda, 90, Running
14. (1) Car 12 Will Power, Chevrolet, 90, Running
15. (15) Car 83 Charlie Kimball, Honda, 90, Running
16. (11) Car 19 Ed Jones, Honda, 90, Running
17. (16) Car 14 Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 90, Running
18. (20) Car 4 Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 90, Running
19. (19) Car 20 Zach Veach, Chevrolet, 90, Running
20. (17) Car 20 Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 89, Running
21. (13) Car 27 Marco Andretti, Honda, 87, Running

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 108.809 mph
Time of Race: 1:54:08.7076
Margin of victory: 1.0495 seconds
Time of Race: 01:54:08.7076 Avg Speed: 108.809 mph
Margin of Victory: 1.0495 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 7 laps
Lead Changes: 8 Caution Laps: 7
Fastest Lap: 121.272 mph (1 minute, 8.2763 seconds) on Lap 86 by 12 – Will Power
Fastest Leader Lap: 119.723 mph (1:09.1597) on Lap 59 by 12 – Will Power
Verizon P1 Award: Will Power (01:06.9614, 123.653 mph)
Legend: R = Sunoco Rookie of the Year Candidate; All Cars use fourth-generation Verizon IndyCar Series Chassis (IR-12) with Chevrolet or Honda aerodynamic bodywork and Firestone Tires

Next Race: April 29 the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix under the lights

IndyCar
http://www.indycar.com/
Graphics & Photos Courtesy of Indycar

 

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