|Ryan Hunter-Reay receives congratulations from son Ryden after winning his second consecutive race at Barber.|
Less than 48 hours ago, the Verizon IndyCar Series concluded round 3 of its 2014 championship with Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay took his second consecutive victory at the picturesque 2.38-mile road course in Leeds, Alabama. And it is here where we will start our Barber Postscript.
Over the past two weeks the 2012 series champion took something of a beating for what many (including this writer) deemed to be amateurish driving at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Of course, with a rather opportunistic overtaking attempt of then-leader Josef Newgarden, Hunter-Reay triggered an accident taking out himself, Newgarden, teammate James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato, and Jack Hawksworth.
Central to the criticism surrounding Hunter-Reay was the fact he was somewhat unapologetic after Long Beach. In RHR’s mind, he was going for the win, there was a gap, he went for that gap, and well, that was that. As for fact he took out his teammate, a popular diver from a small team going for his first win, and others didn’t really seem to affect him.
In essence, Hunter-Reay’s somewhat dismissive response at Long Beach, which did little to endear him to the masses, might be exactly what explains his impressive performance Sunday. After throwing away a possible win, taking out others in the process, drawing the ire of his teammate, owner, and numerous others, RHR wasn’t the least bit rattled. At the end of the day he shrugged it all off, insisted it was one of those racing deals, got on with the job at hand, and scored an absolutely clinical victory Sunday.
RHR’s teammate Marco Andretti may not have had the car to get Hunter-Reay, but turned in a similarly impressive effort. Starting ninth, Andretti got past the likes of Scott Dixon, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe and others to score an impressive second-place finish. Considering the variable conditions, the lack of gimmicky strategy, and who Andretti had to race with and pass, Barber 2014 is the best he has ever run on a road course in my opinion. Do we look back later and see this race as a breakthrough for young Andretti?
Time will tell.
17th and 20th.
Those were the finishing positions of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing drivers Graham Rahal and Oriol Servia respectively at Barber.
18th and 19th.
Those were the qualifying efforts of Rahal and Servia at Barber.
21st, 23rd and 18th.
Those are the qualifying efforts for Rahal in the opening three races of this season.
I don’t know if the problem is dampers, driver-engineer communication, or whatever. But aside from Servia’s drive to 7th place at Long Beach two weeks ago, the results tell you all you need to know: this team is completely out to lunch right now.
A Few Quick Things
â€¢ Is it me, or is Sebastien Bourdais pressing? At the very least, we’ve seen some uncharacteristically sloppy driving the last two races from of the four-time Champ Car titlist.
â€¢ Bourdais, of course, got a penalty for spinning out Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Mikhail Aleshin, who had a very strong run going. One story I will be following is the status of Aleshin’s funding, given the recent sanctions by the United States against Russia due to the situation in the Ukraine. Thus far, the team has been mum on the subject. AR1 has been following the matter, which you can read about here.
â€¢ Also, of the 23 drivers who have run in the IndyCar Series thus far this season, twenty have scored a top-10 finish. The three to have not scored a top-10 finish? Bourdais, Rahal and Hawksworth.
Brian Carroccio is a columnist for AutoRacing1. He can be contacted at BrianC@Autoracing1.com