Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report - Barber Motorsports Park

April 30, 2023

Track:  Barber Motorsports Park
Race:   Children's of Alabama Indy Grand Prix
Date:   April 30, 2023

No. 2 PPG Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden
Start: 7th
Finish: 15th
Point Standings: 6th (-25 pts)
Race Rundown: Josef Newgarden and the No. 2 PPG Chevrolet team finished 15th in Sunday's Children's of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park due to an ill-handling machine likely caused by contact at the start of the race. The two-time winner at Barber started from the seventh position but on the initial laps he was contacted in the rear by another competitor. Newgarden immediately felt something amiss but soldiered on and eventually took the lead on Lap 31. As the race progressed, however, the unidentified problem worsened, especially as the Firestone tires began to wear. The drive quality eventually took its toll and Newgarden dropped back through the field to finish in the 15th position. 

Newgarden's Thoughts:
“It sure felt like it (was from the early contact). It’s hard to say, but right after this hit, I felt like I had a right rear going down. So, I radioed in for them to check the right rear pressure and it looked fine, but something else felt very odd. The story of the race was that when there were new tires on the car, it was drivable. It was off, definitely the right to left asymmetrically off, but it was drivable on new tires. And that was masking it. The problem was the left rear was getting destroyed, which is not the tire that was hit. But whatever was going on over here, was having some effect over there. We just couldn’t hang on at all and it went bad. I just wish we had the car that we had in warmup, and we would have been just fine. But this was just evil. Just an evil-handling car. We were literally just holding on the whole race. Every second after was just a disaster and what a shame because obviously, we had the winning strategy. It was a great day for Team Penske so I am obviously happy for the team, but we were in position and another one just gets away. This one got away pretty badly. So, very demoralizing for the whole group.”

No. 3 Good Ranchers Dallara/Chevrolet – Scott McLaughlin
Start: 4th
Finish: 1st                                     
Point Standings: 4th (-11 pts)
Race Rundown: Scott McLaughlin and the No. 3 Good Ranchers Chevrolet team scored their first win of the season in Sunday afternoon's Children's of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park. It is the fourth career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory for McLaughlin, and his 52nd overall win with Team Penske. In his first race in the Good Ranchers livery, the New Zealand ace showed speed throughout the weekend, including a fourth-place qualifying position. Like his teammates, McLaughlin and crew opted for a three pit stop strategy, electing to use his swift Chevy to run hard instead of working fuel mileage. He and Josef Newgarden cycled to the front of the field after the first round of pit stops, with McLaughlin taking his first lead on Lap 37. He nearly assumed the lead again following the final round of pit stops as strong work by the PPG crew allowed their driver to beat the No. 28 of Romain Grosjean to the blend line. After Grosjean made his way around before the completion of the lap to drop McLaughlin to second, the eventual race winner knew he was in a much better situation with his push-to-pass reservoir while Grosjean's was depleted. After biding his time, he took the lead for the final time on Lap 72 and drove away to the victory. 

McLaughlin's Thoughts: “Feels awesome. I think we have had the pace. Obviously, St. Pete we were strong, contending for wins, maybe not Texas, but Long Beach we were right there. I'm really proud to sort of execute today. Probably the most complete race I've ever driven in an INDYCAR, to be honest, from a strategy perspective, picking people off. It was getting pretty tough in the middle when we were making passes, lap traffic, whatnot. Ultimately when Grosjean got me out of the pits, didn't catch me by surprise. Well, he caught me napping. It was a great move by him. To reset, go again, then pass him back with the pace that we had, that's a proud drive for me personally, but from a team perspective, really proud. Good Ranchers first time on the car. They're going to be big supporters in INDYCAR. Their enthusiasm they have got for the series I think is just great. They have people like that willing to spend money in our series, that are so passionate. They didn't have customers here this weekend, they had staff and the CEO. It's a good vibe. Really proud for them. Yeah, perfect way to kick off what is going to be a massive month.”

No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power
Start: 11th
Finish: 3rd
Point Standings: 7th (-26 pts)
Race Rundown:
Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet team might have been the fastest car at the end of Sunday's Children's of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park, finishing in the third position after starting 11th. In the end it was too much track position to make up in the 90-lap event that took on one hour and 48 minutes to complete. The Verizon team also benefitted from the three pit stop strategy, cycling to the fourth position on Lap 32 following his first trip to pit lane. The reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion was especially quick in clean air, allowing Power to save his push-to-pass seconds. Power eventually took the lead on Lap 63, just prior to his final pit stop of the day. A solid pit stop by the Verizon pit crew resulted in Power cycling to the fourth position for the final stint. Using all of the tools at his disposal, Power began to record outstanding lap times to drive to the rear bumper of the second-place finisher, Romain Grosjean. Unfortunately, he could not make the pass before the checkered flag to come home in the third position. 
Power's Thoughts: “Yeah, it was an extremely good day. When I saw everyone saving fuel there, we talked about doing a three-stop and I felt like it was better to do that, but the guys made the call. It was just super-fast when we got clear air. That was the key to getting up to third. I had a real fast car and it’s a pity we didn’t start further up. Chevy did a great job with the engine and obviously got to thank Verizon for all the support because we are on another championship run. We are just chipping away here, and we are going to get a win soon. We just have to keep at it, improve in qualifying, and just having fun. Enjoying it a lot.” 

What's Next: The next event for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will be the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course on Saturday, May 13.