Scott McLaughlin in the No.3 Good Rancher’s Team Penske Chevrolet made it four different winners from the opening four rounds of the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday.
Starting the Children’s Grand Prix of Alabama from fourth place, the Kiwi had a race-long wheel to wheel battle with Andretti Auutosport’s Romain Grosjean, however unlike in St Pete at the opening race of the season there was no contact and both drivers finished the race 1-2 with McLaughlin edging out Grosjean.
Speaking following the race, McLaughlin said:
Feels awesome. I think we have had the pace. Obviously, St. Pete we were strong, contending for wins, maybe not Texas, but Long Beach we were right there. I’m really proud to sort of execute today. Probably the most complete race I’ve ever driven in an INDYCAR, to be honest, from a strategy perspective, picking people off. It was getting pretty tough in the middle when we were making passes, lap traffic, whatnot. Ultimately when Grosjean got me out of the pits, didn’t catch me by surprise. Well, he caught me napping. It was a great move by him. To reset, go again, then pass him back with the pace that we had, that’s a proud drive for me personally, but from a team perspective, really proud. Good Ranchers first time on the car. They’re going to be big supporters in INDYCAR. Their enthusiasm they have got for the series I think is just great. They have people like that willing to spend money in our series, that are so passionate. They didn’t have customers here this weekend, they had staff and the CEO. It’s a good vibe. Really proud for them. Yeah, perfect way to kick off what is going to be a massive month.
Josef Newgarden in the No.2 PPG Chevrolet started the race from 7th and finished the race in P15 after contact early on in the race and speaking following the event he said:
It sure felt like it (was from the early contact). It’s hard to say, but right after this hit, I felt like I had a right rear going down. So, I radioed in for them to check the right rear pressure and it looked fine, but something else felt very odd. The story of the race was that when there were new tires on the car, it was drivable. It was off, definitely the right to left asymmetrically off, but it was drivable on new tires. And that was masking it. The problem was the left rear was getting destroyed, which is not the tire that was hit. But whatever was going on over here, was having some effect over there. We just couldn’t hang on at all and it went bad. I just wish we had the car that we had in warmup, and we would have been just fine. But this was just evil. Just an evil-handling car. We were literally just holding on the whole race. Every second after was just a disaster and what a shame because obviously, we had the winning strategy. It was a great day for Team Penske so I am obviously happy for the team, but we were in position and another one just gets away. This one got away pretty badly. So, very demoralizing for the whole group.”
Will Power started the race in the No.12 Verizon %G Chevrolet from 11th place and carved his way through the field to finish on the podium in third place and speaking following the action the Australian said:
Yeah, it was an extremely good day. When I saw everyone saving fuel there, we talked about doing a three-stop and I felt like it was better to do that, but the guys made the call. It was just super-fast when we got clear air. That was the key to getting up to third. I had a real fast car and it’s a pity we didn’t start further up. Chevy did a great job with the engine and obviously got to thank Verizon for all the support because we are on another championship run. We are just chipping away here, and we are going to get a win soon. We just have to keep at it, improve in qualifying, and just having fun. Enjoying it a lot.”