Good Morning From Barber
Good morning from a soggy Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham. As promised, the rains showed up around 2:00 am – and did they ever? The rain was beating against our hotel window. I got up and looked out and could barely see the parking lot. It was one of those rains that was coming down in sheets. More than an inch of rain fell at the track in a short span. The good news is, that the sun came out earlier this morning. It’s currently overcast and 66-degrees at the moment, as the sun looks like it’s trying to break through. A quick glimpse of the radar shows nothing imminent, but there is a nasty looking cell in Louisiana that looks like it could be here very late this afternoon or early evening. The forecast for tomorrow still looks very good. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
The Verizon IndyCar Series cars are currently about halfway through their first practice session. In all honesty, I’m a little surprised they went out. The track was still showing a couple of damp spots. Since these conditions will not resemble qualifying late this afternoon or race conditions tomorrow, I thought teams might choose to sit this one out rather than risk wadding up a car so close to qualifying. Here’s a photo of Tony Kanaan navigating the slick spots.
Speaking of qualifying, the TV schedule for today has changed for the better, since my last post yesterday. Due to the changing landscape of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, NBCSN has been forced to shuffle their schedule. Qualifying will now be shown at 5:00 Eastern / 4:00 Central on NBCSN.
The announcement scheduled for 11:00 this morning has already taken place. To no one’s surprise, Conor Daly has been named to the third car at Indianapolis for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Daly will drive the No.43, which is tied to the sponsor. No word yet on whether this is for the “500” only or the the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis also. Since the GP wasn’t mentioned specifically, I’m assuming it is for the “500” only.
After roaming the paddock yesterday, Susan and I went across the track to the Fan Village. Of the few tracks I’ve been to, I’m not sure anyone does as good a job with a Fan Village as Barber. Many merchandise vendors, sponsors and of course – food and adult beverages are available. For the first time since we have been coming to this event, Susan and I rode the Ferris Wheel – which is supposedly from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. That doesn’t really thrill me, but it might some people. For $5, we got a long ride and a great aerial view of Indy Lights qualifying going on below.
After we left the track last night, we went directly to our planned dinner destination – Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, just up the road from the track. We were not disappointed. If you’re looking for a trendy and pretentious restaurant with lots of brass rails, ceiling fans and ferns – this is not the place for you. This place looks like it may have been a Burger Chef at one time. You walk up to the counter and place your order from the old school menu over the kitchen. You pay, get a number for your table and go fill up your drinks at the fountain.
But man, do they crank out a spread. We both had the Half-Slab Rib Platter that came with two sides and the obligatory two slices of plain white bread. Susan said I could eat whatever she didn’t. As it turned out, she ate every bite of hers.
I’m glad we got there early. It didn’t take long for the place to fill up. When we got there, there were a couple of racing team personnel from one of the other series racing here this weekend. Then a few media people that we knew showed up. As we were finishing up, Scott Dixon, his wife Emma and their kids came in. It was odd to see the winner of the Grand Prix of Long Beach just five days earlier, standing in line at a Bar-B-Q joint. By the time we left, they were seated and eating when we walked by. We let them eat in peace.
As I wrap up, the IndyCar practice has concluded. The only incident was a harmless spin by Jack Hawksworth in Turn Five. Scott Dixon, who is driving a food looking car in a Coca-Cola livery, led the practice. Dixon was followed by Will Power, Luca Filippi, Simon Pagenaud and Sébastien Bourdais to round out the Top Five. The fastest Honda of the session was Graham Rahal in seventh. For the record, Francesco Dracone was a full second slower than his newest teammate, Rodolfo Gonzales.
The next IndyCar practice is scheduled for 12:40 central time. With that, we are going to go out and about. The sun has come out and there should be lots of buzz in the IndyCar paddock. Follow us on Twitter at @Oilpressureblog and @MrsOilpressure and please check back in a little bit.