Barber Sunday Wrap-Up
From where I sat atop Turn Two, this was probably the best of the six Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama’s that has taken place. For the most part, it was a clean race. But there was a lot of racing and intrigue. It’s always interesting to compare what you saw live and in person compared to what television viewers saw. I’ve been to races where I had no clue what was really going on. Friends texted me throughout the race what a great race it was. That’s what I thought, but you’re never sure. Susan and I will travel back tonight and I’ll watch the DVR broadcast tomorrow night. buit I’m thinking it played out as well on television as it did in person.
I am very happy for Nashville’s Josef Newgarden. Not to name-drop, but I’ve been a fan of his since 2011, when he was in Indy Lights. IndyCar contacted me to say that Newgarden was in his hometown of Nashville that day and asked if I would interview him that afternoon. I left work early and met him at the Cheesecake Factory at a mall near my house. He had been on a media blitz that day and had been bombarded with the same questions by mainstream local radio and TV stations that knew nothing about open-wheel racing but interviewed him because he was from Nashville. I was his last scheduled interview for the day. We took up a table in the restaurant for two and a half hours as we just sat and talked about his career and IndyCar racing in general. I took it as a major compliment when he told me that I was the only person he had talked to all day that knew anything about IndyCar.
What I took away from our conversation was how articulate and down to earth he was. He was still about five months from turning twenty-one, yet he had the demeanor of a thirty-five year old racing veteran. Not to disparage my child, but I could not believe I was talking to someone that was more than a year younger than my son. He exuded charisma, which is quite unusual for a twenty year-old.
Many questioned his move to sign with Sarah Fisher’s team. Some felt that after a year, it would be a stepping stone to a ride with a major team. but he was loyal to Sarah and she was loyal to him as they struggled for the first couple of years. Last year, he came close to a win, but couldn’t break through. Finally, with the merger of Sarah Fisher’s team and Ed Carpenter’s team – all of the pieces were finally in place at the newly formed CFH Racing.
This is one of those times when you can truly say “Good things happen to good people”. The two underdog teams have banded together with the next superstar driver. Who knows where they can go from here?
Aside from the feel-good vibes that came from the results, it was also a great race. Will Power tried an overzealous move on Takuma Sato coming out of the pits on Lap 19. We happened to be sitting right there. At first I couldn’t tell it was Power, but I could tell whoever it was was very hot coming out of the pits. Power tried to force his way in front of Sato, but it was not to be. Susan caught a timely shot, just as the two made contact.
Power was given a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact. From what I saw, there was no question – yet Power maintained he never saw him. I wasn’t in the cockpit, but I find that highly unlikely.
From there, it was a good race. Power worked his way through the field after his penalty to finish fourth. it wasn’t a win, but he needed the points to salvage what has been a dreadful season so far. With the points, Power moved up to fifth in the championship. Helio Castroneves and Juan Montoya both had forgettable days. Montoya still leads Helio by three points, but Scott Dixon has silently moved up to third. For his efforts, Newgarden has moved up to fourth.
Forgive me for going on about Newgarden’s win, but based on comments I‘ve heard in the media center and in the crowd at Barber – this is a very popular win with everyone. Journalists are not supposed to openly cheer for drivers, but I’m not a journalist. I’m a blogger. I couldn’t be happier for Newgarden and I was very happy to be in Victory Lane to watch him celebrate his first win.
Since we have a long drive in front of us tonight, I’m going to wrap this up. I will still have my “Random Thoughts” up here tomorrow morning. Thanks to those that have followed along this weekend. Despite yesterday’s rain, it was a great race and a fun weekend. After tomorrow, it’ll be time to focus on May.