The NTT IndyCar Series continues their 17-race schedule with a stop at their second road course of the season with Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama.
The 90-lap, 207-mile event at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham begins at 3:30 pm Central and can be seen live on NBC Sports Network.
Heading into the race, eyes are firmly affixed on current points leader Josef Newgarden (Team Penske). The 2017 series champ claimed the checkered flags at the series opener in St. Petersburg (FL) and netted a runner-up finish last Sunday in Austin (TX) to sport an 18-point lead in the hierarchy.
Also on his upward trajectory is the fact that he has won the two previous races at the 2.3-mile road course that contains 17 turns. The Tennessean also holds the most IndyCar wins at Barber with three triumphs.
“Barber is an awesome track,” Newgarden said earlier this week. “There’s always a great crowd there and it’s one of my favorite tracks we travel to on the circuit. It also helps that we’ve had some success there in the No. 2 Fitzgerald Chevy with three wins in the last four races there, but we’re hungry for more.”
Rookie Colton Herta (Harding Steinbrenner Racing) snared his first-ever IndyCar win two weekends ago with his checkered flags at the IndyCar Classic and, at 18 years old, became the youngest driver to net a victory on the main circuit. He hopes to make another significant mark at a track where he placed high during his Indy Lights career.
“I love racing at this track,” said the pilot of the No. 88 Honda. “I’ve won twice there in Indy Lights, so I can’t wait to get back in an IndyCar this time. After our win at (Circuit of the Americas), I’m hoping this weekend we can get another result on the top spot of the IndyCar podium.”
Reigning IndyCar series champ Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) slipped to third in the standings due to a 13th-place finish at the IndyCar Classic last Sunday. A fresh start at a road course where he finished second at two years ago leads to optimism.
“It’s like a little bullring,” Dixon said. “It’s very fast and (has) very high grip. There are both fast and blind corners and it can get narrow in some places as well. I think I’ve finished second there more than any other track we’ve raced at. Hopefully, this will be the year to get the top step on the podium.”
A multitude of veteran drivers are itching at the opportunity to snatch a duke and propel their respective teams back into the title picture.
“Barber (Motorsports Park) has been a bit of an odd track for us in the past but we have developed a new approach going into this weekend, so I am confident in our potential,” said Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi, who currently sits fourth in the standings. “Barber is notorious for being a track that is hard to pass on, so we will need to start up front in order to maximize the weekend from a points perspective.”
“I think we are off to a great start and Austin was huge for us,” said Rahal Letterman Lanignan Racing’s Graham Rahal, who sits fifth after a fourth place finish last weekend. “Not only the good result, but all weekend we were competitive. As we look forward, we need to continue to push and improve, but all signs point to us heading in the right direction and closing the gap to the rest.”
“Barber is a beautiful track that I really enjoy,” said Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaut. “The racing is phenomenal and I have some really great memories there of great races. We are focused on execution and, with the way the car has felt, I cannot wait for the weekend to start!”
For more information on the NTT IndyCar Series, go to their official website.
Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison hosts the fifteenth stop of the series, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, on Saturday, August 24.
Arch City Media will have continuous coverage of the NTT IndyCar Series for the 2019 season.