Verizon IndyCar Series Race Report - Barber

April 25, 2016

Track:    Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala.
Race:    Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Date:     April 24, 2016
No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya
Start: 21st
Finish: 5th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 3rd (-52)
Recap: Juan Pablo Montoya recovered from an unusually poor starting position to record the best finish of his three career Verizon IndyCar Series races at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday. Montoya started last on the 21-car grid after failing to make it out of the first round of qualifying Saturday. However, he quickly worked his way through the field and ran as high as third place before producing a fifth-place finish. The effort kept Montoya in the thick of the point standings as he is now third in the championship rundown after the first four races of the 16-race season. Montoya benefitted from an incredible start to Sunday’s race at Barber Motorsports Park. He improved 10 positions over the first five laps in the Verizon Chevy, taking advantage of some early contact on track between competitors and using aggressive maneuvers to move up in the running order. The result marked Montoya’s third top-five finish to start the season. His previous best result at Barber was a 14th-place effort in 2015. The Verizon IndyCar Series season resumes May 14 with the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, followed by the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, where Montoya will return as defending champion and try to secure this third career Indy 500 victory.
Quote: "The Verizon Chevy was very good. We had a good car all weekend, but just in qualifying, our tires just didn't come in. I don't know what happened and we'll go back and look at what went wrong there. We knew we had a fast car. It was fun and we made some good moves today. On the red (Firestone) tires, I ran them all day pretty much. They were wearing at the end a little bit, but we kept pushing it.  At the start of the race, if you would have told me I would have finished fifth, I wouldn't have believed it. I'm pretty happy where we finished and now we look ahead to Indy."

No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves
Start: 7th
Finish: 7th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 4th (-70 points)
Recap:  After starting on the fourth row on Sunday in the AAA Insurance Chevrolet, Helio Castroneves held steady and earned a seventh-place finish for his fifth top-seven finish among his seven career starts at Barber Motorsports Park. The result allowed Castroneves to keep pace in the championship battle as he is fourth in the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings, 70 points behind Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, who won Sunday’s race. After dropping to 10th place early in the race, Castroneves raced back to the sixth position by Lap 40. When he pitted two laps later, he was in fifth place. As pit stops cycled through, Castroneves – winner of the first series race at Barber in 2010 – settled back into seventh place and he ran steady in that position until the checkered flag for his third top-10 finish in four races to start the season. As the series now moves on to Indianapolis in the month of May with the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indy and then the Indianapolis 500, Castroneves will try to join the top of the record books with a fourth victory in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
Quote: "We started on the black Firestone tires with the AAA Chevrolet and we stayed just inside the top 10 all day. We couldn’t seem to move forward, unfortunately. Strategy-wise, it was very tough to pass out there. I got held up by a group at one point, then we just started blistering tires. They were down to the cords at one point. So all of those details resulted in us finishing seventh. At least we collected points for the championship. Now, let’s move forward to Indianapolis."

No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start: 2nd
Finish: 4th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 7th (-94)
Recap:  Will Power battled back after some issues on pit lane to finish fourth in the Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday. A two-time race winner at Barber, Power has never finished outside of the top five at the picturesque road course in seven career starts. After starting second behind Pagenaud Sunday in the Verizon Chevy, Power ran inside the top three virtually all race until the final laps. On Lap 65, Power pitted under the green flag while running in second place. However, a longer-than-expected stop dropped him behind Graham Rahal, who went on to battle Pagenaud for the victory. Two laps before his final stop, Power had closed to within 1.0025 seconds of Pagenaud for the lead. Power still looked to be headed for a podium finish before Josef Newgarden got by him for third place with two laps remaining as the two cars negotiated lapped traffic.  Sunday’s result moved Power up to seventh in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings. He missed the season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., because of illness. Power now returns to defend his impressive race win at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis from last season as the series returns to Indy in May.
Quote:  "The Verizon Chevy boys worked really hard to keep us up in the forefront. We had a good car going into it. However, we had a slower pit stop on our last pit stop and that's how we lost track position, from P2. Then on the last lap, we caught the train of cars and didn't have enough time to make that back up, unfortunately. Passing is very hard here. It's not the finish we hoped for, but, overall, I'm proud of the Verizon Chevy team and we’re excited to go back to Indy. We'll definitely look for better results there."

No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start: 1st
Finish: 1st
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 90/90
Laps Led: 3 times for 84 laps
Points Position: 1st
Recap:  Simon Pagenaud recovered from contact and an off-road excursion Sunday to post his second consecutive victory and increase his lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings. Pagenaud completed a dominant weekend Sunday that saw him win his third career Verizon IndyCar pole position and lead 84 of 90 laps to claim the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama for his fifth career series victory and first at Barber Motorsports Park. Pagenaud led the first 81 laps Sunday, but lost the lead on Lap 82 when the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevy made contact with Graham Rahal’s car. Pagenaud briefly went off course but recovered to stay in second place. INDYCAR stewards reviewed the contact between the two cars and no action was taken. Pagenaud, stormed back and reclaimed the lead when he passed Rahal on Lap 86 and ran away for a 13-second victory after Rahal suffered front wing damage. It marked Pagenaud’s second trip to the Winner’s Circle in the last week following up his victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach last Sunday, his first win for Team Penske. On Saturday, Pagenaud recorded his second pole position since joining Team Penske when he was timed at 1:06.7262 around the 17-turn, 2.3-mile road course. Pagenaud’s previous best finish at Barber Motorsports Park was a fourth-place result in 2014. With the win, Pagenaud extended his lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings as he now has a 48-point cushion over Scott Dixon heading to the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis – a race that Pagenaud won in 2014.

Quote: "I was dealing with traffic pretty much all the way through the race.  It is so hard with this aerodynamic to pass people and I tell you (Conor) Daly was pretty fast. So you know it’s not like I was two seconds faster; you know we are talking about eight tenths of a second. And you know Graham, that was a really good piece of driving from him but it was a late pass and that is not a corner that you can pass. I went off and it made me really upset too. So I said I am going to pass him back and that’s what I did. The car is amazing and I am so comfortable driving that PPG Car. And Chevrolet man, those guys. I always tell (Chevrolet’s) Jim Campbell after a good race it’s the best equipment you could give us on the racetrack. We made it exciting at the end for the fans which is great."