Welcome To Race Day At Barber!

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The sun is out and the temperature is rising…possibly to as high as 85-degrees by the time the green flag flies for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at 2:37 central time.

We’ve been coming to this event every year since its inception in 2010. It generally rains at some point every race weekend, making a mess of the grass parking lots. But never have I seen the parking lot like it was this morning. If you recall the scene in the movie Patton, where the tanks are all stuck in the mud – that’s what our parking lot looked like.

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I’m not completely sure we’ll be able to get out this afternoon. After I pulled into the spot, I was thinking it may be better to back in – figuring the front wheel drive of a Honda would do better pulling me back onto the muddy trail when we leave. There was just one problem – I couldn’t back out. My front tire was spinning in Alabama mud. Instead, I pulled forward in virgin grass and circled around the cars that were still parking and found a new place a few spots down. Now I’m headed towards the quagmire of a road. Hopefully the sun will bake the mud into a concrete-like surface by this afternoon and we can pull right on out. Hopefully…

This place is buzzing this morning – maybe more than I’ve ever seen it this early in the day here. We arrived about the same time as usual on Sunday morning, but I’ve never seen traffic backed up on the road before you turn into the park. That’s a good sign. When most people think Alabama, they probably think NASCAR. But these are very knowledgeable fans here, and they love open-wheel road racing. I’m thinking they may have their best crowd ever this afternoon.

As I type, the IndyCars are on-track for the morning warm-up. They just got back out after the course was red-flagged for the spinning car of Francesco Dracone. I’m not sure if he hit anything or not, but does it really matter? I doubt that any contact will greatly affect his racing performance this afternoon. I still pray that he can get through this final race on his four-race schedule without causing problems for anyone else.

It sounds as if the Verizon IndyCar Series practice has come to a close. it was paced by Scott Dixon, followed by Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castoneves and Tony Kanaan rounding out the Top-Five. Graham Rahal was the fastest Honda, checking in at seventh quickest. Rahal was the only Honda in the Top-Ten this morning. You have to go all the way to twelfth to find the next Honda, piloted by Carlos Muñoz.

It’s a shame that Honda’s biggest embarrassment thus far, could come at a track where it looks like they have really stepped up their promotional efforts. But kudos to Graham Rahal, who continues his resurgence this season. He has been as hooked up as a Honda can be this weekend. If something fluky happens, it wouldn’t upset me to see him steal it. Unfortunately, for Honda – that’s the only way they will win today.

I know I picked Will Power to win this thing, but there are two dark-horses that have been silently consistent all weekend – Tony Kanaan and Nashville’s Josef Newgarden. Both were in the Fast Six yesterday. This morning, Kanaan was fifth quickest and Newgarden was sixth. Newgarden is due.

OK…we’re going to roam the paddock. I may have something else up here prior to the race, but no promises. But please check back later. But without fail, I will post soon after the race.

George Phillips

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3 Responses to “Welcome To Race Day At Barber!”

  1. Well, it would appear that YOU ARE READY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I always like to pull up on “virgin grass.”

  3. Newgarden makes the Chase!

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