OBSERVATIONS: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Part 2
Even with some hot tempers, it’s safe to say the action on Monday at Barber Motorsports Park was subdued for the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Simply put, Josef Newgarden is the man right now. Whether lake conditions on Sunday or dry on Monday, he was fast and dominated with a lead over 15-seconds at one point. When does that happen in this day and age? His day wasn’t without drama, though, as some more rain in the final 20 minutes of the event had everyone wondering whether Tim Cindric made the right call to bring the No. Chevrolet in for rain tires at the right time. Newgarden played his cards right, keeping all four wheels on the blacktop to make it work.
Ryan Hunter-Reay got the runner-up, proving that Alexander Rossi isn’t the only man to watch out of Andretti Autosport. Truthfully, this performance isn’t too surprising given RHR’s history. The bigger shock was another solid performance by rookie Robert Wickens. First IndyCar road course start – in the rain might we add – and he finished fourth. Schmidt Peterson Motosports appears back on track with both Wickens and James Hinchcliffe scoring top-fives.
It was another day of what if for Sebastien Bourdais, as he was visibly frustrated post-race with Dale Coyne Racing’s strategy. You win some, you lose others, and it’s becoming something to be angry about given the lost opportunities this year.
Temper, temper is something that needs to be addressed as a couple drivers weren’t pleased post-race with the behavior of lapped cars. Cue Simon Pagenaud approaching Gabby Chaves after he felt the younger driver held him up, costing him valuable ground.
Simon Pagenaud confronts Gabby Chaves.
“Get the (expletive) out of here.” pic.twitter.com/Hp0ASOJ11q
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) April 23, 2018
This wasn’t the worst lap car incident, though. If anybody has a right to be upset, it is Spencer Pigot for how Zachary Claman de Melo raced him.
That. Was. Intense.👀
— IndyCar Series (@IndyCar) April 23, 2018
This contact sparked a post-race Instagram trade between Claman de Melo and Marco Andretti.
When you’re knee-deep in lap traffic, the only thing you hope as a leader is they don’t mess you up. You also know the lapped drivers are supposed to let you run your race – which to be fair, Chaves was doing that. He stated post-race that anyone who got alongside, he let them go. We’ll chalk it up to Pagenaud being more frustrated with his own performance.
Claman de Melo – that’s a different topic.
“With the two-lap penalty that we received yesterday, we knew we were already at a disadvantage,” he said. “So, the main goal today was to show my race craft aboard the No. 19 Paysafe car, show that my pace was there and to show that if we would have been on the lead lap that we could have definitely fought for a top 10 position. I think we did that with how I was able to pass other cars on a track that is known to be difficult for passing. We had good pace, and the fastest race lap, so it was a positive weekend overall even if it didn’t go our way.”
Certainly he showcased his ability – but at what expense? You’re two laps down buddy, show some respect for the leaders. How would he feel if the roles were reversed?
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