The 10th running of the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park marks the third consecutive street or road course on the 2019 calendar. It remains to be seen if there will be a third different winner in the field.
Fittingly, last week’s inaugural running of the IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas was won by a driver earning his first win. The Barber track rewards big names. There have been five different winners on this track and most of them have come in pairs. Helio Castroneves (2010), Will Power (2011 and 2012), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2013 and 2014) Josef Newgarden (2015, 2017 and 2018) and Simon Pagenaud (2016) all have taken turns at the front.
- Of course, one cannot discount the rookies. When the green flag waved over St. Petersburg, the freshmen were immediately established with the leaders. Felix Rosenqvist led 31 laps and had a shot at Victory Lane before scoring a fourth. In Round 2, Colton Herta quickly answered the question of whether a rookie could win in 2019 by taking over the lead from Scott Dixon on Lap 46 and winning in his third IndyCar start.
- Rain forced last year’s edition of this race to be run on two days. The sun was shining when the field restarted on Monday morning after being red-flagged Sunday, but rain returned for the end. According to NBC’s affiliate in Birmingham, Ala. rain is once again in the forecast.
- Rain bookending last year’s race forced the conclusion eight laps from the scheduled distance, but one thing was consistent with the previous seasons: Team Penske stood on the top step of the podium for the third consecutive year. Newgarden won back-to-back Alabama Grand Prixs with Pagenaud winning from the pole in ’16.
- With a little luck, Newgarden might have been looking at four straight wins. Pagenaud’s victory interrupted a streak of three Barber victories in four years for Newgarden. The Nashville native finished a solid third in 2016. He’ll try to be the first to win this race in three straight years.
- The pole has been the best place to start at Barber. This race has been won from the top spot four times in nine runnings but never in back-to-back seasons. Last year, Newgarden won from the pole.