Random Thoughts On Barber

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My disclaimer here is that I have not yet watched the broadcast of yesterday’s race. I am actually typing this as Susan drives on the way back to Nashville on Sunday night – much to her chagrin. But I do have some more thoughts on this year’s edition of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

First of all, this is my fourth year to go to Barber Motorsports Park. I’ve been to the past three IZOD IndyCar Series events there, plus the test they had there in 2009. Despite what everyone says and jokes about – this is in fact, a very beautiful facility. Some say that is code speak for bad racing, but that was somewhat proven wrong last year and even more so yesterday. There was plenty of action and passing. I know, because I saw it with my own eyes.

This event is also growing in popularity. The locals have really gotten behind it. We rode back to the car with one of the many volunteers that said the Barber officials were ecstatic with the attendance this weekend. That’s good news considering the Friday crowd was held down due to the thunderstorms that moved through just after lunch.

As far as the actual race goes, I can’t really speak about that – not yet, anyway. If you’ve been to an oval and left there feeling like you’re not quite sure what all went on – well, triple that at a road course. Thank God for DVR’s

I couldn’t help but notice that Will Power was the only one really smiling in Victory Lane. Scott Dixon looked miffed that he didn’t get the win and Helio Castroneves looked downright distraught. I also noticed a little grimace when he was standing on the podium as Will Power was giving his interview. Power mentioned how great it was to have Tim Cindric calling his race. If you’ll recall, Cindric was calling Helio’s races for twelve years before being moved to Power’s pit box late last season. Something tells me Helio would like to have him back.

TV Coverage: Although I haven’t seen the race telecast, I did see the qualifying show on Saturday along with a lot of tweets. The qualifying show was an excellent debut for NBC Sports Network and Townsend Bell as a pit reporter. Based on the tweets I saw, they did a good job with the race telecast also. Bob Jenkins did have a slight flub on Saturday when he said that Rubens Barrichello had been in Formula One for twenty decades. He eventually corrected himself to say it was twenty years.

Foyt pit woes continue: For the second week in a row, Mike Conway saw a strong performance on the track be undone by shoddy work on pit road. Conway’s second stop was noticeably slow as the track TV feed was following the stop. Even Mike King of IMS Radio took note of how slow the pit work was. Conway finished seventh, but you have to wonder where he would have finished had his pit work been up to speed.

Strong Start for Penske: Team Penske is now two for two race wins and two poles in the early going. I get the sense that The Captain has grown tired of watching Chip Ganassi accept championship hardware at the end of each season beginning in 2008. This is the eleventh season since Team Penske came over from CART, and they only have one championship to show for it (2006). I think Roger Penske is determined to win it this year.

More pictures: I actually took a ton of photos this weekend – so many, in fact, that my camera died while we were in Victory Lane. Fortunately, Susan scrambled through her purse and found more. I will be posting these up sometime this week.

All in all: This race was a blast to attend in person. From the conversations I’ve had with people who watched it on television – it was a fun race to watch, as well. Supposedly Randy Bernard has entered discussions to extend the current contract for Barber beyond the 2013 race. I, for one, hope that he does it.

George Phillips

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10 Responses to “Random Thoughts On Barber”

  1. Ron Ford Says:

    We all have a passing interest in this sport and I think most would have to be pleased by the amount of passing that took place Sunday. Oriol, Marco, and Simon were remarkable in that regard, but I was most impressed by Bourdais. WOW! In some respects he reminds me of A.J. by how he is able to wring 110% out of whatever equipment he is given.

    Not to overlooked in my opinion is Justin Wilson who managed to somehow finish with the worst handling car I have seen in a while. He sometimes looked like he was riding one of those bulls that Randy used to promote.

  2. I think that everyone pretty much did what I expected, so not surprising except for TK and his KV car. With TK I expected better results. However, I think this will get all ironed out and he will become competitive very soon. Also, I am surprised that Daio isn’t running better.

  3. billytheskink Says:

    An excellent race with excellent television coverage. Kudos to all involved.

    If they gave wins to the driver who drove the most entertaining race, Marco would have a lot more wins… though I might give this one to Bourdais.

    While I noticed Conway’s pit stops cost him some time, on television it seemed that he lost spots mostly on restarts and in the stints where he was running black tires while most of the leaders were running reds. Slow pit stops cost darn near everybody yesterday, except Will Power. That’s one reason, I’m sure, that Dixon and Helio weren’t in the best of moods after the race, because they both may well have been a good pit stop away from winning it.
    Helio ought to be happy that Barfield let him push the envelope defending 3rd from Rahal…

    While NBC Sports did a much better job catching the passing that happened, where they really shine over ABC, I think, is in the booth. Little things like Bob Jenkins raising his voice when passing is happening, the occasional Sam Posey-esque exclamation from Wally, Jan being aware of and explaining pit intervals, the whole booth noticing when cars dropped out of the race and why drivers were having slow pit stops, etc. make the race more interesting.

  4. I have to say how pleasantly surprised I am at how well Conway is running in the Foyt car, bad pitwork and all. In any of the last few seasons, a 7th place for this team would have been cause for celebration. It’s a good thing that we’re now asking, “How much better could it have been?”

  5. I thought the qualifying show was awful. They give you no timing while we were watching the cars so we had no idea how the car was doing other than a different color by their name if they are on a “good” lap. Whatever that means. Watch a F1 qualifying telecast on SPEED and you know how qualifying should be broadcast.

    That said, the race telecast was excellent. I still didn’t get my times but pulled up timing and scoring on my laptop for the race (can’t do this for qualifying since it’s tape delayed). T & S is dead on race pace and I could follow 12 & 9 cars as the were on the last stint and saw how Power slowly pulled away. As a well known blogger would say, “Viewing enhanced.”

  6. Oh, and how soon till Roger dumps Briscoe and steals Bourdais from is son?

  7. Savage Henry Says:

    I hope that this quality of racing keeps up and that we haven’t already seen the best twisty race of the season. I hope it even gets better as the teams learn to dial in their cars. I’m optimistic that this is going to be a fun year.

    I have my fingers crossed for Road America next year – if they can put on this kind of show on a motorcycle track, think of what they’ll do on a legit open wheel track. Hopefully aero kits next year will add to the action.

  8. “This is the eleventh season since Team Penske came over from CART, and they only have one championship to show for it (2006).”

    That is a shocking stat. Looking back:

    2002 – Hornish (Panther)
    2003 – Dixon (Ganassi)
    2004 – Kanaan (Andretti Green)
    2005 – Wheldon (Andretti Green)
    2006 – Hornish (Penske)
    2007 – Franchitti (Andretti Green)
    2008 – Dixon (Ganassi)
    2009 – Franchitti (Ganassi)
    2010 – Franchitti (Ganassi)
    2011 – Franchitti (Ganassi)

    That said, I think they’ll get it this year, especially if Dario can’t get on his game.

  9. Thanks for the reports from Barber George. My expectations coming into this one were wrong! It was a very good race. Can’t wait til INDY!

  10. Wow. Thanks, George, for that little detail re: Helio and Cindric. I had no idea that Helio was showing a little bit of emotion over that.

    It’s tidbits like *that* that are needed in after-race reports.

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