Fast Facts for Barber iRace

Virtual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Fast Facts

When: 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, April 4

Track: Barber Motorsports Park, a 17-turn, 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Alabama

Race distance: 45 laps/107.1 miles (approximately 60 minutes)

Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for a 10-second duration

Expected pit stops: One. Cars will be allowed two “Fast Repairs” during the race.

Competition caution: A planned competition caution period will bunch the field on Lap 15. It will consist of three laps, followed by a single-file restart.

Twitter: @IndyCar, @iRacing, @BarberMotorPark, #INDYCARChallenge, #INDYCAR, #HIGPA

TV/Online: 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN, NBCSports.com, NBC Sports App. Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer, alongside the network’s INDYCAR analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. The pre-race activities will be highlighted by Miss Alabama 2019 Tiara Pennington singing the national anthem and NBA and Auburn University legend Charles Barkley giving the command to start engines. The podium finishers will be interviewed on the live NBCSN broadcast. Diffey also will host a post-race virtual press conference with the podium finishers for media members (call-in details will be distributed).

Spotter guide: Click here to see a detailed spotter guide for this Saturday’s race.

Race notes:

Sage Karam (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) won the inaugural round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge on Saturday, March 28, the American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International. Karam beat Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing) to the checkered flag by 3.6174 seconds. Will Power (Team Penske) finished third in the 25-driver field.

• INDYCAR has conducted 10 Indy car races at Barber Motorsports Park. Takuma Sato won the most-recent race at the track, in 2019. Helio Castroneves won the first Indy car race at Barber, in 2010.

• Reigning series champion Josef Newgarden is the winningest Indy car driver at Barber Motorsports Park with three victories (2015, 2017 and 2018). Newgarden is in the field for the virtual race Saturday after finishing seventh last Saturday at Watkins Glen.

• The field for Saturday’s race at Barber consists of 29 drivers, including 21 with previous starts in Indy car races at the track. Watkins Glen INDYCAR iRacing Challenge winner Sage Karam has just one previous start at Barber, in 2015 for Chip Ganassi Racing. Most notable among drivers without Indy car starts at Barber is seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson , who raced in an Indy car last Saturday at Watkins Glen after 18 Cup Series starts at that track.

• Four drivers are joining the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge for the first time this Saturday: Five-time series champion Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), 2018 series Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens (Arrow McLaren SP), three-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole winner Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing) and Jack Harvey (Meyer Shank Racing).

• Nineteen of the 24 drivers who started the inaugural event last Saturday at Watkins Glen were running at the finish, proving these athletes are just as skilled in the virtual world as in reality.

Reader Request: The Speedway’s Greatest Cars

Originally published May 25, 2016

I’ll admit it. I am biased on this topic. I love the old front engine cars. Maybe it’s because growing up they were what a race car was. Unlike the rear engine cars, front engine machines came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most rear engine cars look basically the same to me. I’m not talking about today’s Dallara.  The early rear engine cars were noticeably distinct from one another. A sameness crept into the design, especially after wings were added.

What were the greatest cars? My criteria is part objective and part subjective. Cars that won more than once easily make the cut. Design and livery are a big qualification as well.  I prefer the simpler liveries. Here are my top five greatest cars, front engine division.

5. Belond Exhaust Special.  The car designed by George Salih won back to back to back races in 1957-58. The engine is laid on its side, allowing a lower profile. Note the fin

Note the fin behind the driver’s headrest.Hulmanclubfavcars 006.jpg

4.  Blue Crown Spark Plug Special.  This Offenhauser powered, front wheel drive machine won in 1947 and 1948 with Mauri Rose driving to victory both years. Car owner Lou Moore is second behind Roger Penske in victories by an owner with five.

Hulmanclubfavcars 009

 

 

 

3.  Sheraton-Thompson Special. The 1964 winning car is a A. J. Watson built roadster driven by A. J. Foyt to his second 500 win. It was the last front engine car to win the race.Hulmanclubfavcars 011

2.  Fuel Injection Special.  Bill Vukovich dominated in 1953 and 1954 in the original “roadster”. Note the cockpit offset to the right. The car was leading in 1952 when a steering rod broke with eight laps left. Vukovich led 435 laps in this car. Hulmanclubfavcars 008.jpg

  1. Boyle Special (top of story  photo) Another car that dominated the 500. Wilbur Shaw won in this Maserati in 1939 and 1940. He was leading in 1940 when a wheel collapsed late in the race. After the war, Ted Horn drove it from 1946-48  to finishes of third, third, and fourth. Future winner Lee Wallard took the car to the lead in the 1949 race. Bill Vukovich took his 1950 rookie test in the Maserati, but did not attempt to qualify it. This car was truly the chariot of the gods.

Entry List for Honda Grand Prix of Alabama- iRacing Saturday

Photo: Takuma Sato celebrates winning the pole at Barber in 2019.

Twenty -nine drivers are entered for Saturday’s event on NBCSN beginning at 2:30 ET. The biggest surprise- Ed Carpenter who last race on a road course in Indycar in 2013. Carpenter will be in the 21 car while Conor Daly stays in the 20. Scott Speed is in the 98 again this week.wp-1585844828134597717769225287296.png

The race is scheduled for 45 laps and will include a competition caution after the first round of pit stops has been completed around laps 28-31. The caution will last three laps and the race will resume with  a single file restart.

Starting positions will be determined by a 10 minute qualifying session just before the start of the race. All cars will have the same setup.

A Change That Should Become Permanent

Photo: Josef Newgarden on his way to the Indycar championship at Laguna Seca. Photo by Kyle McInnes

The NTT Indycar Series announced today that due to the shortened uncertain season, the final race of the year will not be a double points race. As of now the 14 scheduled races  shows Weather Tech Raceway as the final race, but if St. Pete can find a way to reschedule in October, the finale will shift to Florida.

I think the uncertainty of where the final will be and the shorter season contributed to this decision. I’m not even sure the season will begin in Detroit on May 30. Virginia has issued stay in place orders effective until June 10, just about two weeks ahead of the race at Richmond. It may be a struggle to get 10 races run in 2020. I think fewer events than that would make for a hollow championship.

Now that that the finale is not a double points race, I hope the series sees that there is no need to resurrect the concept for 2021. I have never been a fan of double points in general, especially for the final race. I’m surprised NASCAR didn’t think of this gimmick first. It does not in reality put more drivers in contention. Too many things have to happen for someone 70 points out of first going into the final weekend to have shot at the title.

Once Indycar sees that they can live without a double point finale, let’s eliminate the bonus points for the 500 as well. The drivers already know it’s the most important date on the calendar. The extra points has not given anyone an advantage in the standings overall. The last time the winner of the 500 won the series title was 2010, when Dario Franchitti was in his four year period of dominating Indycar. Since double points have been in effect, Juan Pablo Montoya tied Scott Dixon in points, but lost the Astor Cup on a tie breaker.

With the shorter season this year winning the 500 and 100 points will give the winner an advantage in the standings that may be difficult to overcome. I’m assuming the winner of the 500 will be one of the title contenders. I think that is a pretty safe bet this year.

I applaud Indycar’s move. It is definitely a step in the right direction. Let’s make this permanent and make all races the same amount of points.

Some Thoughts: Indycar iRace at the Glen

Sage Karam’s dominating win in the Amerucan Red Cross Grand Prix iRace at Watkins Glen yesterday was fun to watch. It provided a much needed break for Indycar fans. This was the first sim race I had watched from start to finish. I found the cars and the action to be realistic. The track, however, looked like an older version of Watkins Glen. Some of it appeared different from when I was there at the last Indycar race.

We fans needed the race to connect in a positive way for a couple of hours. Yes, the race was artificial, but we still treated it as a real race by tweeting back and forth.

The broadcast crew was a  great addition. I enjoyed the replays and the side interviews with Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe.  Maybe NBCSN can broadcast the remaining five races. Will the novelty wear off after a couple of events? Maybe fans are so starved for racing that this is sustainable.

I wonder if Karam’s experience at iRacing gives him an advantage for all the races.

The invocation and the national anthem were a nice touch.

Yesterday’s incident involving three Penske cars may be the only time we ever see that happen.

A caution flag might have been good. There were two occasions where one would have been thrown.

Seeing Watkins Glen made me miss that track even more. I hope Indycar can find a way back there.