The Verizon IndyCar Series moves on to Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy of Alabama following a somewhat controversial end to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach which was won by points leader Simon Pagenaud when many believed the Team Penske driver should have been penalized following an incident at pit exit with Ganassi’s Scott Dixon.
Barber Motorsports Park is favourite among the drivers and Team Penske head into the weekend hoping to challenge for their third win in four races with Simon Pagenaud commenting ahead of the race by saying:
Getting our first Team Penske victory was huge and we’re looking to continue that positive momentum into the Barber event, where I have done well in the past. I’m very excited about getting into the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. We’ve had some fantastic success in that car with three podium finishes going back to last year. The start of the season has been tremendous and it’s great to be leading in points, however we have a long season ahead of us. Our goal is to concentrate on our job and everything else will take care of itself.
Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet commented by saying:
We’ve had a tremendous amount of success at Barber in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy, leading quite a few laps, so we’re looking forward to getting on the track there this weekend. We haven’t won a race there since 2012, so I do want to change that. I wasn’t particularly satisfied with our Long Beach result, which makes getting right back to it this week good for us. Obviously, it has been an up-and-down start to the season for us and getting a good result at Barber can get us on the right track as we head into that important month of May.
Helio Castroneves who started the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach from pole position and went on to finish the race in third place commented ahead of the race in Barber by saying:
It has been a couple of years since we’ve had the type of finish at Barber we look for in the AAA Chevrolet. We won the pole last year, but the race didn’t turn out very well. It’s a challenging track. We’ve had three podiums and a win here and need to get back to that type of performance. I feel like we’ve let some opportunities get away so far this season. Last week at Long Beach, we led a bunch of laps, but not the right ones. Not unhappy about the start of the season at all. We just need to get some better finishes and we will.
Juan Pablo Montoya who took victory in the opening race of the season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg finished the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in fourth place commented by saying:
I’m actually looking forward to getting on the track at Barber. It’s been one of our more challenging tracks since I came back to the series, but the Verizon Chevy team is looking to change that this time around. I don’t have quite as much experience there as pretty much everyone else, so track time is important for our team. We’ve had a pretty solid start to the season and want to continue that momentum as we head into May.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe who scored his first top ten finish of the season last time out at Long Beach commented by saying:
Barber is a great track to drive Indy cars around. We had a really good test there earlier in the year and, coming off a solid performance for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car in Long Beach, we are hoping to keep the momentum going forward for another strong result.
Mikhail Aleshin in the No.7 SMP Racing Honda commented ahead of the weekend by saying:
Barber is a great and very technical racetrack. It’s a classic road course. I’m very happy to be back on it with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the No. 7 SMP Racing car.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton is looking forward to returning to Barber having scored a podium here last season in the Indy Lights Series and speaking ahead of the race he commented by saying:
I am really excited to head back to Barber after getting on the podium there last year in Indy Lights. It is an amazing track to drive and the grounds remind me of Augusta National golf club. I will be looking to build on a solid start to the year and grab as many points as I can with the Gallagher Chevrolet.
Scott Dixon in the No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team Chevrolet who finished runner up to Simon Pagenaud last time out heads into this weekend’s race 14 points behind the Penske driver and speaking ahead of the race he commented by saying:
Barber is demanding. It’s like a little bullring almost. It’s very fast and very high grip. There are both fast and blind corners and it can get narrow in some places as well. The facility itself is one to see. The track has done a great job with the park over the years and it attracts a lot of people, which is great for our sport. We also run well here and I’m looking forward to doing that again this weekend.
Tony Kanaan who ended the race in Long Beach in sixth place commented by saying:
Going from such a crazy atmosphere like Long Beach to a place as scenic as Barber shows how diverse the Verizon IndyCar Series really is. I really enjoy racing at Barber and, even though it’s a quick turnaround for the team, I’m feeling good about our chances at the road course. I’ve had strong qualifying efforts at Barber in the past, but it never seemed to really come together during the race. The No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet was very strong in Long Beach and we’re hoping that momentum continues at Barber.
Sebastien Bourdais in the No.11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet commented by saying:
I am looking forward to racing at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend. The KVSH Racing team had a good test at Barber a few weeks ago and we have had a strong car there the last couple of years. We just haven’t achieved the results we should have. I think we will come off the transporter with a good baseline setup and can make the right adjustments based on the weather and track conditions. The biggest thing we need to focus on this weekend is to qualify well. If we can do that … if we can start at the front this race, we can have a good result.
AJ Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato commented by saying:
Barber is an impressive road course that I always enjoy driving. The track has many challenging high-speed corners and it flows beautifully. I also enjoy the great support from fans who are really enthusiastic for motor racing and just the nice overall atmosphere. The museum is truly impressive, too. I look forward to being back there.
Graham Rahal from Rahal Letteman Lanigan Racing who finished the event here last year in second place spoke ahead of this weekend’s race by saying:
Our race in Barber last year was one of the most competitive for us the entire season. It started off a string of podium finishes for us and I am hoping that will happen again this year. We were competitive at the St. Petersburg and Long Beach street courses and I hope that carries over to the Barber road course. It’s a difficult course because it has a lot of very high-speed corners, and several really slow ones. It’s hard to get a good balance out of the car on both of those parts of the track. It’s a difficult track to tackle, but after running so well last year I’m optimistic about our competitiveness this year. My favorite part is the back section of the track and it is extremely tricky. There are a lot of really high-speed, high (G-force) load, very physical corners and that is difficult. It’s very easy to make a mistake. I would say that not only is it my favorite, but it’s probably the hardest part of the track.
For Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly is hoping that the team can put what they learnt during the Barber test to good use and build on their strong performances, he commented by saying:
We have to keep making progress overall, it’s what we’ve done so far. We’ve moved ourselves up in qualifying and we just have to keep working on gaining that track position in qualifying. Barber is a really tough place. Our test there was interesting and we were able to learn some things; things to do and to not do and hopefully we can use that as efficiently as possible and have another strong race. The track is really cool, very physical, difficult to pass on occasions, though. I hope that tire wear comes into play so we can take advantage of that. We seem to have good tires on long runs, so hope to be able to make up positions like that. In general, just can’t wait to see how the race there goes.
Luca Filippi in the No.19 Boy Scouts of America Dale Coyne Racing Honda commented by saying:
The Barber Motorsports Park event is the first road course race of the season so it will be interesting to see how we can perform there. Also, after a disappointing weekend, it’s good to have a race the weekend right after and to already be focused on a new race. Barber is a place I like. I had a good weekend there last year. It’s a very technical track so I think we will have to do fine-tuning work for the qualifying car and the race car. It’s going to be very important to be focused from the beginning to work in the right direction. My favorite part of the track at Barber are the blind corners, there are two. One is a right-hander that becomes kind of like a chicane going down the hill and the other one is actually quite fast before the final section of the circuit. You go uphill and you don’t see the exit, so you have to place yourself in the right position, but you don’t really see where you’re going. It’s actually very challenging. It’s a nice corner, quite unique and I like it very much.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden, the defending race winner here at Barber commented by saying:
Barber, I’m excited to get back there! We’ve had a couple of good top-10 finishes these last two races, now it would be nice if we could go there and get a little bit better than that. Finally getting back on the podium or getting a win would be nice leading into the month of May. That’s our priority; we’ve got a fast car at Barber. We won there last year and we’re coming back with a great Fuzzy’s Vodka team. It’s also going to be the last race for the 100th running commemorative bottle livery, so we’ll try to send it out with a bang.
Following a tough few races, Marco Andretti is hoping to get his season up and running he commented by saying:
Barber would be a good place to get my season going. It’s been a rough start and we need to turn things around this weekend. The cars felt good at the Barber test, so hoping to build on that. As a permanent road course, I love Barber – it’s fast, flowing and fun to drive.
AJ Foyt Racing’s Jack Hawksworth commented by saying:
Barber is a great track that really flows well. The high-speed corners and elevation change make it a lot of fun to drive. I have won there in the ladder series and always enjoy coming back.
Chip Ganassi Racing Team’s Charlie Kimball commented by saying:
I think the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team has some momentum as we head to Birmingham. It’s a short turnaround for the crew right after Long Beach, but I know we’ll have a quick car again as soon as we roll out on Friday at Barber. Sure, it’s not quite a drastic change as going straight to an oval, but with Barber’s elevation changes and fluid turns, it definitely gives us (and our engineers) a significantly different challenge on the road course than the streets. Last season we had a decent qualifying, and I know that’s something we’ll continue to work hard to prepare for this coming weekend. Patience could be the name of the game once the green flag drops. With things heating up on track, I think it’s going to be a great show for the fans down South.
Alexander Rossi in the No.98 Castrol Edge / Curb Honda stated:
I’m so happy that we only have to wait a couple days to get back in the car after what was certainly a weekend to forget in Long Beach. This will be the first road course race for us and, based on the test that we had here last month, I am going in with high expectations. We really need a strong weekend and I know all the guys will be pushing hard to make that happen.