There were, however, problems before the race even started for Marco Andretti as he had to return to pit road following the first warm lap, his car stuck in 1st gear. Despite the best efforts by the crew, Andretti would rejoin the race 3 laps down. The size and speed of this track left him mired at the back of the field unable to recover. Very disappointing considering the speed he was carrying throughout the weekend.
Will Power easily got the jump on the field off the start, while Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay battled side by side for the first couple of corners , Hunter-Reay losing a big piece of body work off his front wing. Said bodywork would end up hitting rookie Ed Jones, sending him in for repairs and to the back of the field, along with Hunter-Reay, and the still languishing in the pits Andretti.
Farther back in the field Charlie Kimball and Spencer Pigot battled for position.
First caution of the day came at lap 3 to retrieve the big chunk of front wing from RHR’s car
Power would lead the field to the restart on lap 5, with Newgarden getting the best of Hinchcliffe to move up the order.
Big mover in the early stages, Sato, who was up 5 spots from his starting position.
The mid-packers started to make the first of their stops, while Penske stable mates, Newgarden and Pagenaud were the next duo to bang wheels and test the boundaries on lap 17, sending Pagenaud off track, and causing him to drop 2 spots.
Now a third of the way through the race, the leaders also made their first stops, on the ever tight and slightly treacherous pitlane at Barber Motorsports park.
Once it all shook out, Power was back in the lead, but Newgarden was now hot on his heels in 2nd spot.
Rossi is now the big mover, with 11 positions nabbed.
There were about 3 TV segments of the booth chatting with Alonso, completely ignoring the on track action, so all we can tell you at this point is that the race continued, and no one crashed.
The second round of pit stops came and went, and the running order was as follows: Power, Newgarden, Dixon, Pagenaud, Hinchcliffe, Castroneves, Rossi, Kanaan, Bourdais, Pigot, Chilton, Sato, Daly, Rahal, Hunter-Reay, Kimball, Aleshin, Jones, Veach, Munoz and Andretti (4 laps down)
As teams are preparing for their final stops, the rain begins to fall, and on Lap 62 Spencer Pigot has an off, bringing out the FCY, and the sweepers out on the track to clean up the racing line. This also sent everyone, with the exception of Kimball who had pit 14 laps earlier, down the pit lane in a final flurry to set up the final stint of the race.
Power again got out in front, but Dixon crew made up for the first botched pit, and he managed to slot in between Power and Newgarden for 2nd. On the restart however, Newgarden made a ballsy move, and squeezed Dixon off the racing line, to take over the 2nd spot. Hinchcliffe would also go wide on the restart, losing 2 positions.
Though Kimball was at the head of the pack, he would eventually peel off for his final stop, handing the lead back to Power. This was short lived however, as Power was forced to pit on Lap 77 with a tire puncture, dropping all the way down to 17th.
The battle was now on between Penske Rookie Newgarden, and perpetual Barber bridesmaid Dixon, and they certainly kept it interesting for the 10 frantic waning laps. But there was no catching the Tennessee native, who would capture his first win with Team Penske, his 4th career win, and his second win at Barber. Last year’s winner, and reigning IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top 3.
The series now packs up for a quick turnaround and heads to Phoenix Raceway for the first oval race of the 2017 season.
Full results of the race on Barber Motorsports Park
Written 04-24-2017, 06:53 pm
Updated 04-24-2017, 07:02 pm
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