|Josef Newgarden gets first win for Team Penske|
With F1 star Fernando Alonso looking on, Josef Newgarden held off Ganassi Honda driver Scott Dixon by 1-second to win his first IndyCar race for the Penske Chevy team in the 2017 GP of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
It was Newgarden's 2nd win at Barber, the first coming in 2015. Newgarden always runs strong here and has been on the podium three straight seasons at Barber Motorsports Park.
4th was Helio Castroneves with Alexander Rossi rounding out the top-5.
Will Power led 75 laps before running over something which caused a flat tire that ruined his chances of winning today. Power, who started from the pole, held off his teammates, Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden until lap 77. Power finished 14th.
Sebastien Bourdais, the series' points leader, did not have a great race, but was able to move up to finish 8th and retain the points lead.
Alexander Rossi started 18th and passed 13 cars to finish a respectable 5th.
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.
Pace lap: 27-Andretti in pits. Driver reports car stuck in first gear. He will take the start from the rear.
Lap 1: 12-Power leads the field into Turn 1. Contact between 5-Hinchcliffe and 28-Hunter-Reay in Turn 4. Debris on course from 28-Hunter-Reay. 27-Andretti and 19-Jones on pit lane for repairs.
Lap 3: FULL COURSE YELLOW (1). Debris in Turn 4.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Lap 4: 15-Rahal, 19-Jones, 21-Veach and 28-Hunter-Reay on pit road for four tires and fuel. 28-Hunter-Reay also replaces front wing.
Lap 5: GREEN. 12-Power leads the field out of Turn 17 and into Turn 1,
Lap 8: 12-Power leads 3-Castroneves by 0.4544 of a second.
Lap 10: 12-Power leads 3-Castroneves by 1.0476 seconds.
Lap 13: 12-Power leads 3-Castroneves by 0.8697 of a second.
Lap 14: 98-Rossi and 19-Jones on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 15: 12-Power leads 3-Castroneves by 2.1275 seconds. 83-Kimball on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 17: 14-Munoz on pit road for four tires and fuel. 2-Newgarden passes 1-Pagenaud for position (4th) in Turn 5. 5-Hinchcliffe is able to also complete a pass for position on 1-Pagenaud.
Lap 18: 12-Power leads 3-Castroneves by 2.2130 seconds.
Lap 19: 2-Newgarden, 10-Kanaan, 15-Rahal on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 20: 1-Pagenaud, 4-Daly on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 21: Leader, 12-Power on pit road for four tires and fuel. 26-Sato, 8-Chilton, 27-Andretti also on pit road. LEAD CHANGE (1): New leader is 3-Castroneves.
Lap 22: 5-Hinchcliffe and 20-Pigot on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 23: Leader, 3-Castroneves on pit road for four tires and fuel. LEAD CHANGE (2): New leader is 9-Dixon.
Lap 24: Leader, 9-Dixon on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 25: LEAD CHANGE (3): 12-Power reassumes lead of the race following the completion of green flag stops. He leads 2-Newgarden by 0.7500 of a second.
Lap 28: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 1.1100 seconds. 7-Aleshin and 83-Kimball on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 30: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 1.1877 seconds.
Lap 32: 14-Munoz on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 33: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 1.7543 seconds.
Lap 35: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 1.9653 seconds.
Lap 39: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 2.5956 seconds. 98-Rossi on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 42: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 4.1518 seconds. 10-Kanaan on pit road for four tires and fuel., 15, 4, 28 also pit for service.
Lap 43: 2-Newgarden and 3-Castroneves on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 44: Leader, 12-Power on pit road. LEAD CHANGE (4): 9-Dixon takes lead despite also pitting. 5-Hinchcliffe, 18-Bourdais, 8-Chilton also stop for service.
Lap 45: Halfway: LEAD CHANGE (5): 12-Power officially takes lead of the race at the line.
Lap 48: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 2.2314 seconds.
Lap 50: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 1.8482 seconds.
Lap 54: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 0.7827 of a second.
Lap 57: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 1.1541 seconds.
Lap 60: 12-Power leads 2-Newgarden by 1.6238 seconds.
Lap 63: FULL COURSE YELLOW (2). 20-Pigot off course in Turn 6. Leaders under caution are: 12-Power, 2-Newgarden, 9-Dixon, 1-Pagenaud and 5-Hinchcliffe.
Lap 64: Lead lap cars are on pit road. LEAD CHANGE (6): New leader is 83-Kimball who did not stop. Power wins race on pit road followed by 9-Dixon, 2-Newgarden, 1-Pagenaud and 5-Hinchcliffe.
Lap 68: GREEN. 83-Kimball leads field out of Turn 17 and into Turn 1.
Lap 70: 83-Kimball leads 12-Power by 2.3202 seconds.
Lap 73: 83-Kimball leads 12-Power by 2.2759 seconds.
Lap 75: Leader, 83-Kimball, on pit road for four tires and fuel. LEAD CHANGE (7): New leader is 12-Power.
Lap 77: Leader, 12-Power, on pit road with a possible tire issue. LEAD CHANGE (8): New leader is 2-Newgarden, who is leading at Barber for the first time since he won the race in 2015.
Lap 80: 2-Newgarden leads 9-Dixon by 0.6051 of a second.
Lap 83: 2-Newgarden leads 9-Dixon by 0.9099 of a second.
Lap 85: 2-Newgarden leads 9-Dixon by 0.6713 of a second.
Lap 88: 2-Newgarden leads 9-Dixon by 1.1151 seconds.
Lap 89: WHITE: 2-Newgarden leads 9-Dixon by 1.2049 seconds.
Lap 90: CHECKERED: 2- Josef Newgarden wins the 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."
|20||20||Spencer Pigot||89||1 LAPS||57.8702||3||1:09.248||0||17||119.571||Chevy|
|21||27||Marco Andretti||87||3 LAPS||1 LAPS||4||1:08.499||0||13||120.879||Honda|
UNOFFICIAL VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES POINT STANDINGS
- Sebastien Bourdais 117
- Scott Dixon 111
- Josef Newgarden 110
- Simon Pagenaud 106
- James Hinchcliffe 102
- Helio Castroneves 84
- Ryan Hunter-Reay 65
- Takuma Sato 65
- Ed Jones (R) 62
- Alexander Rossi 60
UNOFFICIAL SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR POINT STANDINGS
- Ed Jones 62
- Zach Veach 11