OBSERVATIONS: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park
The talent in the NTT IndyCar Series right now is very diverse, and that’s something the fans should be welcoming of in 2019. It just means it could be a very fun season watching the drivers battle for position.
Barber Motorsports Park laid down a great place for them to battle, as the green flag saw drivers clawing to get every inch possible around the course. From there on, different aspects allowed competitors to try and make passes on each other, giving the fans enough to keep them entertained.
The only downfall, and this typically reigns true for any road course, is the fact drivers begin to string out single-file throughout a run, resulting in the action slowly drawing to a close. Ultimately, that was the case in the final 25 laps of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
Takuma Sato tried to make it interesting, though, as he drove off-track while holding a healthy advantage over Scott Dixon with four laps to go. Although the gravel excursion will probably make the highlight reel with a couple pieces flying off in the process, it did nothing to make the battle for the lead draw interest as Dixon failed to close on the Japanese driver.
That just showed how dominant Sato was after Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing went one-two in qualifying on Saturday.
Sato began to show the speed displayed today late last season, as evident by winning in Portland. Though in the three races since, he had failed to post a top-five. Graham Rahal, meanwhile, was 23rd in the two event to close last season before placing 12th and fourth in the first two races this year.
The commentators may want to say the team’s success today was not a surprise as Rahal was considered a championship contender mid-way through last season. However, given the recent numbers, it was shocking to see their performance be as strong as appeared – especially when they kept saying their street course program was their strength.
Rahal, meanwhile, did not get to see the success he deserved today as engine issues took him out of the running.
It will be interesting to see if they can back up their claim about their street course program at Long Beach, with how the month of May shakes out before Sato is really considered a legitimate title threat.
Behind Sato, the usual contenders reigned – Scott Dixon, Sebastian Bourdais, Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi.
James Hinchcliffe pacing practice on Friday translated to him and his rookie teammate Marcus Ericsson finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.
It continues the solid start to the season for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports following the Canadian’s sixth-place finish at St. Petersburg. As Ericsson continues to grow used to the IndyCars, he could be the next rookie to break through, joining Colton Herta.
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