Notes taken during the NBC Sports Network broadcast of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 7, 2013.
pressdog® DRINK, ye BASTARDS® beer of the race is Shiner Bock, one of my go-to beverages.
Since I rarely view pre-game shows, I usually either start watching right at green flag time OR do a Festival of Fast Forward on the DVR, as I did for this race. BUT the Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Townsend Bell lap around Barber made me come out of fast forward warp for a second.
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SP Car Driver Name C/E/T Tire
1. 1 Hunter-Reay, Ryan D/C/F Alternate
2. 12 Power, Will D/C/F Alternate
3. 55 Vautier, Tristan (R) D/H/F Alternate
4. 9 Dixon, Scott D/H/F Alternate
5. 83 Kimball, Charlie D/H/F Alternate
6. 3 Castroneves, Helio D/C/F Alternate
7. 25 Andretti, Marco D/C/F Primary
8. 19 Wilson, Justin D/H/F Primary
9. 6 Saavedra, Sebastian D/C/F Alternate
10. 2 Allmendinger, AJ D/C/F Alternate
11. 16 Jakes, James D/H/F Primary
12. 14 Sato, Takuma D/H/F Alternate
13. 77 Pagenaud, Simon D/H/F Primary
14. 78 de Silvestro, Simona D/C/F Alternate
15. 98 Tagliani, Alex D/H/F Primary
16. 5 Viso, EJ D/C/F Primary
17. 10 Franchitti, Dario D/H/F Primary
18. 22 Servia, Oriol D/C/F Primary
19. 11 Kanaan, Tony D/C/F Primary
20. 27 Hinchcliffe, James D/C/F Alternate
21. 15 Rahal, Graham D/H/F Primary
22. 67 Newgarden, Josef D/H/F Alternate
23. 7 Bourdais, Sebastien D/C/F Alternate
24. 4 Hildebrand, JR D/C/F Primary
25. 18 Beatriz, Ana D/H/F Primary
26. 20 Carpenter, Ed D/C/F Alternate
Pursuant to Rule 126.96.36.199.1, (did not make their starting tire choice known to IndyCar in time) Car 11 will start on Primary Tires. (R) Rookie (C)Chassis: D=Dallara | (E)Engine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)Tire: F=Firestone
Cue the HAT (running order at the top of the screen). Yo yo yo to the peeps in the B-Unit (which creates all the screen graphics, including The Hat). Stay out of the Fuzzy’s Vodka-based Alabama Slammers until the last third of the race, OK? OK ... second half.
Love these in-car camera shots from the right mirror looking back at the driver. NBCSN goes through the in-cars at the start and should show us them a few more times during the race itself, like when the drivers are really fighting.
Wally, Townsend and Leigh are in the booth. Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Marty Snider are in the pits. Jon tells us it’s a three-stopper today (three pit stops) and it’s all about tire management.
NOTE: in IndyCar road and street races, there are two kinds of tires. Primary “Blacks” (all back sidewalls) and alternate “reds” (red-striped sidewall). Theoretically the blacks are harder compound and last longer than the reds, which are softer compound, don’t last as long, but have better initial grip. Teams have to use at least one set of each compound during the race. Many different strategies on how and when to use each tire.
Let’s light this candle … we’re GREEN.
Chuck Kimball … MAN ON A MISSION. Pops out and makes it three wide just as the green flag flies. Here we go into turn 1. We got dirt flying. Power goes wide through the dirt and Dixon follows him. Power gets overtaken by about five cars.
Cue the circus music! Yellow yellow yellow. Servia and Rahal have contact in the turn 7/8 complex. Servia just lifted big time and BAM, Rahal’s car speared Servia’s in the ass. Rahal de-nosed. Will have to pit. Both cars underway again.
IndyCar Ominous Announcement: “start is under review” (to see if Kimball jumped it, I presume.) Cue chief steward Beauxford T. Justice (Beaux Barfield) getting on his robe and wig to adjudicate the matter.
Replays … Hinch brakes for some reason and it’s the dreaded ACCORDION EFFECT. Hinch got bashed as well. Onboard with Graham you can see Servia lifts for whatever reason and he’s got no place to go but into the back of him. BOOM. Rear wheel guards saved Servia there. Later we find out that Beauxford ruled ... not guilty. No penalties from the start. IndyCar's rule is you can go-go-go when the flag flies, no mater where you are on the track. Don't have to wait until the start finish to overtake once the green is out.
Lap 3 -- Rahal and Servia pit for new noses. Ed and Bia pit to top off. Might as well if you are at the tail of the field under yellow.
Lap 4 -- Hinch is dead stick on the track. Looks like he lost a wheel. He’s got no drive. Stuck. Has to get towed to a safe place. This is a long-ass yellow. Four laps at Barber is long. But they ain't going to extend it to drag Hinch in, so his car sits.
Lap 6 -- Restart .. GREEN. Power goes into the dirt in the same spot as the start. Booth guys said Wilson was pissed during qualifying based on allegations that Sato blocked him. Sato was penalized for it, but Wilson still screwed. Sato? Throw a Block Party? NEVER.* (*Denotes sarcasm)
Lap 8 -- Kimball is P3. Replay of him inhaling Marco in The Passing Zone (Turn 5, where unfortunately few if any spectators can sit. Fix that, Barber.)
Lap 10 -- RHR, Vautier, Kimball, Marco, Wilson, Dixon, Allmendinger, Power, Sato, Saavedra.
RHR is up by 2.2 seconds. Jakes is toast. Suspension issues. Dixon inhales Wilson … inside … CLEAR.
Townsend talks about Dale Coyne having a volunteer tire carrier in the pits. Oh … Dale. You and your wacky low-budget deal. Making a mental note not to get too close to Coyne's pit at Indy or I may end up as the right front changer (THAT would be a festival of circus clowns). Bia has to be a big fan of the approach what with her being back there in LAST a lot of the race. Given what Wilson wrings out of his Coyne car, if he had a better funded ride he’d probably rule the world. But he don’t, so …
Bourdais is P15 and gets air. Bourdais hasn’t ripped up the world so far this year. Of course he got involved (inadvisably and kind of inadvertently) in the whole Katherine Legge/TrueCar/Dragon kerfuffle. Could be karma. Just throwing it out there.
Rahal pits for about the ninth time. Just kidding. But he has pitted frequently since the opening lap brouhaha. Again, might as well if you are in the back or need to get the car sorted. You can pit and not get lapped in a road race.
Lap 16 -- Vautier and Kimball in a knife fight for P2. Discussion throughout about how impressive the rookie (of the year) Vautier has been so far.
Replay of Dixon overtaking Marco. Here it strikes me … I recall when ABC broadcasted the opening race from St. Pete in 2012, a lot of the Twitter brethren were all up in arms about the lack of overtaking shown live and how much of it was shown via replay. Some incensed howling resulted. No howls when NBC Sports Network does it today (that I noticed). These crazy observations just come to me. I can’t stop them. And then I inflect them on you. Condolences.
Lap 19 -- Festival of Pit Stops is starting. RHR is 8 seconds ahead of P2 and may be making some personal cell phone calls back to wife Beccy who couldn’t make the race today. Frowny face.
Lap 20 -- RHR, Vautier, Kimball, Dixon, Marco, Wilson, AJ, Power, Sato, Saavedra.
Lap 22 -- Now RHR is +10 seconds on Vautier. Either Vautier is fading or RHR has GONE PLAID.
Lap 23 -- Meanwhile, Kimball is all up in Vautier’s business. IF Vautier is driving defensively, that would help explain the increasing gap with RHR. The defensive line is the slower line. Now RHR is +11.5 seconds. Super props and shout outs to Leigh for giving keeping us posted on RHR’s lead margin throughout the race. Viewing enhanced. Hate it when the margin of lead on a road race — key information for my race enjoyment — is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
The booth peeps — Wally, Townsend and Leigh — have stepped up their game this week. Less chatting among themselves, more adding value, less talking over car radio messages. Props to them.
Lap 25 -- Vautier pits. Crew inspects his rear wings for bullet marks from Kimball’s relentless attack (kidding!).
Lap 26 -- RHR, Kimball and Dixon pit. Kimball’s right rear tire changer dropped a nut! Har. IndyCar’s only have ONE locking nut per wheel (but it’s a big one). Changers have a spare nut (on their belts) in case they drop one, which this guy did, but he grabbed the spare and put it on with minimal loss of time. Props for the quick reaction. Kimball and Dixon both get out of the pits ahead of Vautier on the track.
Lap 29 -- Power stayed out and leads. Wilson dropped 13 spots in the pits due to a jack issue. Coyned! Jon tells us Power is in fuel saving mode … trying to play a fuel strategy after the unfortunate start and restart Festival of Dirt Driving.
Lap 30 -- Power, RHR, Helio, Kimball, Dixon, Vautier, Dario, Pagenaud, ED(!). JoeNew (Newgarden).
Hold up. JoeNew has climbed from starring P22 to P10 in 30 laps and with one pit stop. WHAMMY. Nice job by Newgarden who needs a result really bad after his Festival of Mechanical Gremlins recently.
Lap 32 -- Power pits from the lead. Out. P7. Will continue to go lean and see what happens. Power is good at saving fuel and still being pretty fast. Needs some fuel-saving yellow to make this work.
Lap 34 -- My boy Ed Carpenter gets some love for his improvement on twisties. Still no threat to win, but much improved.
Lap 35 -- RHR told to look after the tires. Beeky is a prophet!
Lap 37 -- in an indication of the Festival of Lock Step that has broken out (middle stint phenomenon) NBCSN goes through the ENTIRE field, almost. I think they left out Bia. But then again so did Coyne. (Rim shot).
Lap 42 -- Cue the dramatic music. Helio is reeling in RHR. Townsend says RHR is backing off a little in a strategy move. Viewing enhanced via insight here.
Dario in. BLOWN up, SIR. Actually looks to be an electoral issue? No, turns out to be a broken “header.” (Cliff Clavin voice: A “header” is an old school term for a “manifold,” which is the device that brings air to and takes exhaust away from the cylinders in your typical internal combustion engine. Update: I could be wrong! See terse correction in comments.)
Lap 44 -- RHR pits. Sato has issues in the pits. Won’t go into gear. Wilson weeps inconsolably over Sato’s troubles (kidding!).
Wally: “I’m not sure if it’s legal or not, but I just ordered a pizza for Hinch who is still sitting down there.” Beer spew.
Holy Front Row Seat. Hinch still is sitting in his car which is parked in a safe place in a run off. He’s in there waiting for a yellow to get towed back to the pit and get a wheel. It’s all about points, people.
Post race IndyCar said the reason Hinch was stuck there was because it was missing one wheel, officials didn't want to drag it back because it would do more damage to car. At the same time (post Hinch losing a wheel), the track was clear so Race Control made the decision to leave the Hinch car and try to bring it back during the next yellow, which never happened. So Hinch sat in his car for about an hour.
Memo: Barber has re-upped for three more years as the host of an IndyCar race. Track peeps also said this race’s attendance was about 56,000 (is, don’t quote me), a new record. Also during the race we learned that Allmendinger is in for Long Beach (in addition to Indy) and maybe more. And then we learned that Ryan Briscoe, not re-signed with Penske (who is giving Allmendinger these rides) will race for Chippy Ganassi. CUE THE REVENGE OF BRISCOE INDY 500 PLOT LINE. Gonna be delish to see how that plays out.
Lap 48 -- It’s Power, RHR, Helio .. and then Helio overtakes RHR for P2 in the now-famous Turn 5 (where most of the passing happens and none of the spectators can sit). CONTACT. Holy Curb Bounce. RHR was inside, hit the curbs, and bounced out into Helio. They both got biffed, but nobody got damaged. Bullet dodged for both and Helio gets the position.
Lap 50 -- Power, Helio, RHR, Kimball, Dixon, Pagenaud, JoeNew (!), Marco, Wilson.
Lap 51 -- Helio overtakes Power for the lead. Not saying for sure, but this might have been one of those “Will, Helio is faster than you. Please confirm.” (F1 team orders witicism!) Actually I doubt there were team orders here, but I also doubt Power made it to tough on Helio. Now that he’s in P2 with RHR behind, Power will (legally) make it really hard for RHR to overtake. This is a point that Wally makes in a timely fashion. Viewing enhanced.
Townsend says even though Power will probably pit before RHR, RHR will be desperate to get around Power otherwise Helio will disappear into the distance. More viewing enhancement here.
Lap 55 -- Hinch still hanging out in his car in the run off. Too bad he didn’t have his phone. He could have tweeted from there. Opportunity lost. (You decide if I am kidding or not on this one.)
Lap 59 (31 laps to go) -- Helio is 10.8 seconds in front. RHR still stuck behind Power who is probably driving the D line, or going just fast enough in the right place to make overtaking impossible for RHR. Perfectly legal. Wait ... Power pits! Jon says Power is right on the edge of making it in another stop so he’ll be leaning out the fuel here. More timely viewing enhancement.
Lap 60 -- Helio, RHR, Kimball, Dixon, Pagenaud, Power, Vautier, Marco, Wilson.
Lap 64 -- Festival of final pit stops. Allmendinger stalled it during his last stop. Understandable. IndyCar’s have a “hand clutch” which is difficult to get used to (from what I understand). Plus the 2.2-liter turbo engines aren’t the burliest on the planet in the low end, so that enhances the stalling threat (from what I understand). Kimball pits and comes out in back of Dixon who pitted a lap earlier. Classic road course “overtaken in the pits” moment.
Lap 67 -- Helio and RHR pit. It seems that RHR made up a lot of ground on Helio. Helio’s fuel taking a long time. Helio out on black sidewall tires. RHR on reds (allegedly faster). Second race in a row where tire strategy could play a huge role in deciding the finish.
We go onboard Dixon (replay) as he inhales Power for P3. Hinch is finally out of his car. Stretching dramatically. Funny. He can’t improve his position so might as well get him out of there.
RHR is all up in Helio’s business. Dixon is also closing. A little late-race drama here. CAN RHR GET AROUND HIM? WILL HELIO’S BLACK TIRES HOLD UP AGAINST RHR’S REDS?
Lap 75 (15 to go) -- RHR into Turn 5 (where everyone passes but nobody can sit), under, CLEAR. Classic overtaking maneuver and we have a new leader. Look for RHR to fold the wings back and disappear.
Now Dixon is frothing behind Helio. The one guy I would most hate to have behind me on an IndyCar road race would be Dixon. He’s relentless and never screws up.
Dixon on the button (push to pass which delivers a burst of extra horsepower, insert purists complaining about it here) into turn 5, CLEAR. Dixon P2. Helio’s black tires are too slow compared to the reds (among other factors).
Lap 76 -- Holy BONZAI! Kimball just made a balls-of-steel pass inside Power for P4. Dude. It almost looked like he was out of control it was so fast into some kinky (bow chica bow bow!) bits. That was some stuff there. We get an in-car replay and even the booth guys are squealing. Pass of the race right there.
Lap 80 -- RHR, Dixon, Helio, Kimball, Power, Pagenaud, Marco, Wilson, JoeNew, Vautier. JoeNew has climbed from starting P22 to P9 on with 10 to go. Too bad none of it was televised (NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS) but that’s still some stuff right there.
Dallenbach gives thanks for the reds vs. blacks (tires) issue. I concur and also give thanks for push to pass.
Lap 83 -- Bourdais and Vautier are having a French civil war. Kidding. Rumors that they are singing show tunes from Les Miserables while fighting for P10 cannot be confirmed.
During the whole race Leigh has done a stellar job of working in the sponsors. It’s the little things. He says “Marco in the RC Cola car.” Simple, doesn’t detract from the flow of information, BUT gives the sponsor some mention. Nicely done. Pray, continue Mr. Diffey.
Lap 85 -- Bourdais goes to the beach! He’s off track. Bourdais radio: “I will get you one day, Jean Valjean Vautier! This, eet is not o-vair!” (Do I have to say it? ... OK, kidding!)
Dixon is within 0.6 seconds of RHR, but it’s going to take a screw up from RHR for him not to win. Still, as I mentioned, Dixon behind you could induce some pink urine moments.
White. Festival of Power to Pass. … RHR wins by 0.6 seconds. Dixon P2 for the fourth year in a row at Barber. Helio hands on to P3.
RHR’s PR czarina Ryann Rigsby gets air! Ryann is cool. Viewing enhanced. RHR is out. Looks like he’s physically toast. A little despondent that wife Beccy and infant son are not there. Barber was the ONE race this year where they weren’t going to make it. DAMN. Gives props to Dixon for being relentless. Says Helio’s tire strategy killed him in the end. Regrets the contact with Helio.
Dixon is cool as the other side of the pillow post race. Always. Says he needs to get a bridesmaid dress. Beer spew. Gives props to RHR.
Helio said reds were too good to keep behind. Jon tells Helio he’s the new points leader and Helio about does some kind of cartwheel. Very EXCITED. Kimball is happy with run. Hinch has a great sense of humor about his situation. Said he was waving to the crowd, during air high fives.
Rahal ran out of gas on the last lap and fell from P12 to P21. Festival of Obscenities from him, I am sure.
Trackside Online finishing order ..
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay DHL Chevrolet 90 Running
2 9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 90 Running
3 3 Helio Castroneves AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet 90 Running
4 83 Charlie Kimball Race With Insulin Honda 90 Running
5 12 Will Power Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet 90 Running
6 77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda 90 Running
7 25 Marco Andretti RC Cola Chevrolet 90 Running
8 19 Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing Honda 90 Running
9 67 Josef Newgarden Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda 90 Running
10 55 Tristan Vautier (R) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda 90 Running
11 98 Alex Tagliani Barracuda Racing Honda 90 Running
12 5 EJ Viso Team Venezuela-Andretti Autosport-HVM Honda 90 Running
13 11 Tony Kanaan Mouser KV Racing Technology - SH Racing Chevrolet 90 Running
14 14 Takuma Sato ABC Supply Co. A.J. Foyt Racing Honda 90 Running
15 22 Oriol Servia Panther DRR Chevrolet 90 Running
16 7 Sebastien Bourdais Dragon Racing Chevrolet 90 Running
17 4 JR Hildebrand National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet 90 Running
21 18 78 Simona de Silvestro Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet 90 Running
19 2 AJ Allmendinger IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet 90 Running
20 6 Sebastian Saavedra Dragon Racing Chevrolet 90 Running
21 15 Graham Rahal Midas/Big O Tires Honda 90 Running
22 20 Ed Carpenter Fuzzy's Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet 89 Running
23 16 James Jakes Acorn Stairlifts Honda 86 Running
24 18 Ana Beatriz Ipiranga Honda 65 Mechanical
25 10 Dario Franchitti Banana Boat Honda 42 Mechanical
26 27 James Hinchcliffe GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 3 Contact
Time of Race: 01:52:04.5450 Avg Speed: 110.818 Margin of Victory: 0.6363 seconds Lead Changes: 6 among 4 drivers Caution Laps: 4
Fastest Lap: 120.014 mph ( 68.9918 sec) on lap 83 by 16 - James Jakes
Fastest Leader Lap: 118.172 mph ( 70.0671 sec) on lap 83 by 1 - Ryan Hunter-Reay
Points: Castroneves 79, Dixon 70, Hunter-Reay 66, Andretti 61, Hinchcliffe 56, Kimball 51, Kanaan 49, Power 47, Wilson 46
Lap chart, starting order and finishing order courtesy of IndyCar PR.
That’s it from Barber. I’ll have some more opinions on the race soon. Next up, Long Beach, April 21, 4 p.m. Eastern, NBC Sports Network.