Barber flashback: A pleasant surprise in 2012

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Barber Motorsports Park’s reputation as a track that was too narrow for IndyCars to produce solid racing on was successfully rehabilitated in last year’s running of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

In previous events on the 2.3-mile road course outside Birmingham, the lone major passing zone had been the Turn 5-6 hairpin known as ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ But in 2012’s action-packed affair, which served as the road course debut for the turbo-charged Dallara DW12, wheel-to-wheel battles ensued all over the track in places that hadn’t been considered ripe for passing opportunities before.

When the dust settled, however, a familiar name was atop the podium. Will Power came from ninth on the grid to claim his second career win at Barber, withstanding a restart challenge from Scott Dixon at Lap 74 and pulling away to a 2.7-second win.

He later said that he thought a victory was not possible after qualifying as far back in the field as he did.

“We went in thinking that we have to kind of be a little off strategy to the other guys to be able to pass around here,” Power said. “So we started on black [primary] tires, everyone else started on [alternate] reds. We went to reds when everyone was on blacks. That got us a couple of spots.

“Then…Good stops and good strategy calls put me out in clean air, so we could use our speed. We slowly passed one by one. It was a very good team effort, absolute team effort. The strategy was perfect. The stops were perfect.”

Power would credit Firestone’s softer tire compounds on both the primary and alternate tires for the amount of passing overall.

“I really thought, as green as the race was, you put it down to the tires really, the fact that the tires had a discrepancy from brand-new to old of up to two seconds, three seconds,” he said. “That allowed for good passing. It really eradicated fuel saving because often we go in, we start lifting, fuel saving. Doing that with the tires eradicated that.

“It was just hard racing. I ran hard the whole day, never saved fuel.”

Dixon came home second, followed by Helio Castroneves in third, Graham Rahal in fourth and Simon Pagenaud in fifth.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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