Barber is a beauty — and a beast

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If not for the winding 2.3-mile road course inside of it, Barber Motorsports Park would be mistaken for a fabulous outdoor art gallery.

Barber’s grounds are manicured to perfection, surrounded by lush trees and dotted with whimsical sculptures of everything from giant spiders in Turn 5 (known naturally as Charlotte’s Web) to packs of lions and tigers. There’s a reason why it’s been tagged as “the Augusta National of racetracks” in reference to the equally lovely home of The Masters.

But beneath Barber’s beauty lies an absolute beast of a track, perhaps the toughest on the IZOD IndyCar Series calendar. The fast-flowing course features multiple elevation changes and blind corners that constantly challenge drivers. Their talent and physical conditioning come to the forefront here, and any sort of mistake usually incurs a severe punishment.

You can check out the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network. But in the meantime, you can get out for a quick lap around this highly technical — and highly difficult — circuit by checking out the video above.

Wickens tops final Road America practice

Photo: IndyCar
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Robert Wickens showed the way in final practice for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, topping the speed charts with a quick time of 1:42.991, the only time below 1:43 during the session.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, and Graham Rahal completed the top five.

The lone incident of the session came right at the end, when Zach Veach went for a spin exiting Bill Mitchell Bend (turn 13). However, Veach did not suffer any damage in the incident.

Times are below. Qualifying begins at 4:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. local time) and will air on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET.