INDYCAR: BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK RECAP
Photographer: LAT Photography
Marco Andretti set the pace early in the weekend when he posted the fastest time during Friday's Practice 1 and continued to show top speeds, again topping the charts in the No. 27 during Sunday's morning warm up. It was DHL driver Ryan Hunter-Reay leading the day in qualifying for the Andretti Autosport stable of four, making his second-consecutive appearance in the Firestone Fast Six. The No. 28 machine lined up fifth on the grid for Hunter-Reay's 204th career IndyCar start.
Sunday's 90-lap Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama came with gloomy skies as the day started under wet conditions. With Marco Andretti leading the field of 21 during morning warm-up and Ryan Hunter-Reay starting form the third row, optimism was high for race day at Barber.
Despite a day of challenges for the 27 and 28 teams, the No. 98 of Alexander Rossi came away with a top-five finish while Takuma Soto secured ninth.
From Birmingham, the Verizon IndyCar Series will head west for Round 4 of competition at Phoenix Raceway under the lights on April 29 with broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 9 p.m. ET.
Alexander Rossi - No. 98 Andretti Autosport / Curb Honda
Started: 18 // Finished: 5 // Championship: 10 (60 pts.)
“We knew based on our starting position that we had to come up with something different. We knew we were stopping early, then it was about how fast we can go while saving fuel. The team did a good job and gave me a good car. Considering we started 18th, a top-five is really good. I don’t think it was weather, we worked really hard overnight and tried to understand where we made mistakes this weekend. We’ll use it as a learning experience, Friday and Saturday, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Takuma Sato - No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda
Started: 14 // Finished: 9 // Championship 8 (65 pts.)
“It was a difficult weekend, but I think the start was pretty exciting. I overtook a couple of cars and had a really good start. After that, I struggled on the pace a little bit. During the first stint, I had issues braking. So, first I had to move the bias all the way on the front. Then later on we lost one brake, so it felt like three-wheel braking - that was a shame. Over the course of the stint, I think I was getting better and better over time because we kept making the right adjustments. I think we held on well and the guys did well on the pit stops. Ninth is not perfect, but I think where we are it was a good points day and result for us.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay - No. 28 DHL Honda
Started: 5 // Finished: 11 // Championship: 7 (65 pts.)
"We started fifth with the DHL car, which was positive since we started 18th here last year, so we were looking forward to capitalizing on that and then lost ground on the start. At the beginning of the race (James) Hinchcliffe just tracked out and hit me, the contact broke our front wing. We went to the back and worked our way to what should have been a 10-place finish, but then Mikhail (Aleshin) knocked me off the track right at the end. It was an eventful day, but not the finish we were looking for. Looking forward to moving on to Phoenix."
Marco Andretti - No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda
Started: 12 // Finished: 21 // Championship: 17 (45pts.)
“Disappointing day for the 27 team. We were fast Friday and fast this morning (in warm up), but issues set us back on the start of the race, and there was just no way to get the laps back. I feel bad for the crew and want to thank them for sticking in there, they worked hard all weekend and gave me a fast car but we just weren’t able to do anything with the hand we were dealt today. This hurts us for the championship, and we'll be gunning for wins.”