Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Preview: 2014 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Barber is becoming quite the event for Indycar! After hosting several test sessions, Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham Alabama, was given the nod to host an Indycar race in 2010. It has turned out to be one hell of a race. Fans show up, drivers love the track, and produces some great races. The track hosts it's fifth Indycar race, round three on the 2014 schedule.

Here are some headlines heading into the 2014 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama:

Power Flexes His Muscles
Will Power is off to one hell of a start this season. Will followed up a win in the opening round at St. Petersburg with a P2 finish at Long Beach last weekend. He has also been very strong at Barber in the past. Is this the year that Will finally comes through and wins an Indycar championship?


Honda Bounce Back?
Honda is reeling after an atrocious race at Long Beach. What seemed like a sure podium sweep turned into one top-five car after the lap 55 crash that took Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, and James Hinchcliffe out of the podium. The crash also claimed Honda drivers Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth. Honda is in need of a win this weekend at Barber. Can they do it?


Rookies On Fire
Carlos Munoz collected his second podium in only five career starts last weekend at Long Beach. Mikhail Aleshin looked strong, picking up a P6 finish. Jack Hawksworth was looking like a boss before he was collected in the lap 55 crash. Hell, even Carlos Huertas got in the rookie fun, collecting his first career top-ten. Is this the year of the rookie?!

Carlos Munoz - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Carlos Munoz leads a great crop of rookies in 2014 (Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America)
Repeat Performances
Several drivers have struggled out of the gate so far this season. James Hinchcliffe, P22, had mechanical issues at St. Petersburg and a crash at Long Beach. Charlie Kimball, P23, had an off at St. Petersburg and an engine failure at Long Beach. Ryan Briscoe, Sebastien Bourdais, Marco Andretti, and Graham Rahal all make up P15-18 on the championship. All of these drivers are in serious need of a standout performance at Barber. Will any of these drivers finally get their seasons going?

Here is the schedule for the 2014 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (eastern):

Friday
Practice 1: 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM
Practice 2: 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM

Saturday
Practice 3: 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM
Qualifying: 3:00 PM - 4:10 PM

Sunday
Warm-up: 10:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Race: 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM


Here are the Indycar Driver Standings heading into Barber:
1) Will Power - 93
2) Mike Conway - 66
3) Simon Pagenaud - 60
4) Helio Castroneves - 55
5) Ryan Hunter-Reay - 54
6) Scott Dixon - 51
7) Carlos Munoz - 48
8) Juan Pablo Montoya - 47
9) Mikhail Aleshin - 46
10) Sebastian Saavedra - 40


Here's the top-ten finishers of the 2013 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama:
1) Ryan Hunter-Reay
2) Scott Dixon
3) Helio Castroneves
4) Charlie Kimball
5) Will Power
6) Simon Pagenaud
7) Marco Andretti
8) Justin Wilson
9) Josef Newgarden
10) Tristan Vautier


Here are the ten active Indycar drivers with the highest combined average finishing position in their careers at Barber, with the number of races they've started at Barber in parenthesizes:
1) Scott Dixon - 2.0 (4)
2) Will Power - 2.8 (4)
3) Helio Castroneves - 3.5 (4)
4) Simon Pagenaud - 6.3 (3)
5) Marco Andretti - 6.8 (4)
6) Ryan Hunter-Reay - 9.8 (4)
7) Oriol Servia - 11.0 (3)
8) Sebastien Bourdais - 12.0 (3)
9) Tony Kanaan - 12.0 (4)
10) Mike Conway - 12.7 (3)


Here are all four previous pole sitters and their lap times at Barber:
2013: Ryan Hunter-Reay - 1:07.087
2012: Helio Castroneves - 1:10.476
2011: Will Power - 1:11.454
2010: Will Power - 1:10.135


Lap Record at Barber Motorsports Park:
Scott Dixon, 1:06.775 in 2013


Here are the five largest winless droughts among active drivers in the field (total number of starts since last win):
1) Graham Rahal - 97
1) Oriol Servia - 97
3) Marco Andretti - 44
4) Sebastien Bourdais - 41
5) Sebastian Saavedra - 40


Finally, here is the entry list for the 2014 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama:
#2 Juan Pablo Montoya / Team Penske / Chevrolet
#3 Helio Castroneves / Team Penske / Chevrolet
#7 Mikhail Aleshin [R] / Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports / Honda
#8 Ryan Briscoe / Chip Ganassi Racing / Chevrolet
#9 Scott Dixon / Chip Ganassi Racing / Chevrolet
#10 Tony Kanaan / Chip Ganassi Racing / Chevrolet
#11 Sebastien Bourdais / KVSH Racing / Chevrolet
#12 Will Power / Team Penske / Chevrolet
#14 Takuma Sato / AJ Foyt Enterprises / Honda
#15 Graham Rahal / Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing / Honda
#16 Oriol Servia / Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing / Honda
#17 Sebastian Saavedra / KVSH Racing / Chevrolet
#18 Carlos Huertas [R] / Dale Coyne Racing / Honda
#19 Justin Wilson / Dale Coyne Racing / Honda
#20 Mike Conway / Ed Carpenter Racing / Chevrolet
#25 Marco Andretti / Andretti Autosport / Honda
#27 James Hinchcliffe / Andretti Autosport / Honda
#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay / Andretti Autosport / Honda
#34 Carlos Munoz [R] / Andretti Autosport / Honda
#67 Josef Newgarden / Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing / Honda
#77 Simon Pagenaud / Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports / Honda
#83 Charlie Kimball / Chip Ganassi Racing / Honda
#98 Jack Hawksworth [R] / Bryan Herta Autosport / Honda

Let's go racing!

-Matthew Hickey

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