It’s time for Indycar to race at one of my favorite venues- Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. This is one of the most beautiful tracks in the country, and the event is always great. The last two races have been very good.
After two street races, Barber will seem like the wide open spaces of Wyoming. There are run off areas with lots of room, so full course yellows should be kept to a minimum.
The grounds are immaculately landscaped and interspersed with whimsical statues and other pieces of art. The track features elevation changes, long straights, and some tight turns. For first timers, I recommend spending some time in the turns 1-3 area (second photo above). Cars go downhill, around a sweeping turn, and then uphill. I’ve seen 3 car battles going up the hill. It’s a great track to move around. You can see a lot of the track from several viewpoints.
A trip to the museum is also a must. This will be my first time there since the expansion, and I’m looking forward to viewing the new version. While its mainly about motorcycles, there is a large collection of Lotus race cars, including Dan Gurney’s 1962 Indianapolis 500 car.
What will we see on track this weekend? The last two years Honda and Chevy have been somewhat equal in the race. Graham Rahal has finished second the last two years, behind Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud. Scott Dixon has been on the podium every year except last year, when he was involved in a first lap collision in turn 5. Dixon has never won here. I think he will have a good chance this time.
Ryan Hunter-Reay has won this race twice. I would not dismiss his chances. Hopefully the electrical/engine problems that destroyed the entire Andretti team’s chances at 2 podiums at Long Beach are resolved.
Team Penske is usually strong here as well. Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Simon Pagenaud have all won this race. Helio Castroneves and Power have won the pole. Castroneves has been on the podium. They will qualify strongly. They do have poles in both races to date. One of them could score Chevy’s first win of the season.
So, I think this race is a toss-up. I think Scott Dixon will break through for his first win of the year. The likely lack of yellows will help him since the team seems reluctant to change their pit strategy during a race.
Zach Veach will substitute for J. R. Hildebrand in car 21. Hildebrand had surgery on his injured hand, broken at Long Beach.
NTT Data returns to Scott Dixon’s car and continues on Tony Kanaan’s car.
Josef Newgarden’ has a new sponsor for Barber, Fitzgerald Glider Kits.
And the most significant news – Your intrepid reporter will have a two seater ride Sunday morning. This my first time on a road course. I cannot tell you how excited I am to do this. Thanks to Indycar Nation for the opportunity. I’m still negotiating the media rights.
Greatest 33 Non- Winners
Please get your grids to me by May 2. Thanks.