Newgarden wins despite more rain at Barber
Josef Newgarden has wrapped up a big win in the rain-delayed Honda Grand Prix of Alabama despite more rain leading to a challenging finish.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe bagged their first podiums of the season in second and third respectively at Barber Motorsports Park, while Scott Dixon finished sixth.
Newgarden led all 22 laps which were run on Sunday, before proceedings were called for the day after a second red flag for heavy rain, and headed the field when the first four laps on Monday were run under Caution.
The 2017 champion led by 1.5s at the end of Lap 27, pitted on Lap 49, and was nearly 25 seconds ahead when the pit stop cycle shook out.
Rain began to fall again around Lap 66 and a risk-averse Newgarden was first to switch to wets when he brought the #1 Team Penske Chevrolet into pit lane on Lap 71.
Sebastien Bourdais, who had run second since the race restarted, but for pit stops, assumed the lead in the #18 DCR w/ Vasser-Sullivan Honda.
Bourdais sought to make it to the end on slicks, with a time-certain finish imminent before the scheduled 90 laps would be completed, but had to relent on Lap 76.
Ryan Hunter-Reay had been effectively third all day to that point and, having switched to wets two laps earlier than Bourdais, took over second position.
He brought the #28 Andretti Autosport Honda home almost 10 seconds behind Newgarden when the chequered flag signalled an end to the race after 82 laps.
“I think for us we did the only thing we could,” said Newgarden.
“We went to rain (tyres) as soon as it intensified. We had to. I think it was the right thing to do, just because we’re in the lead, we have the most to lose by not putting on rains early.
“Fortunately, the weather cooperated with what we needed, and I think that’s ultimately what got it done.”
Hinchcliffe passed Alexander Rossi on-track on Lap 47 to take up fourth, before inheriting a position the same as Hunter-Reay did to finish third in the #5 Schmidt Peterson Honda.
His Canadian compatriot and team-mate Robert Wickens (#6 Honda) claimed fourth, one position ahead of Bourdais.
The Frenchman managed to beat Dixon (#9 Chip Ganassi Honda) by just 0.0871s.
Rounding out the top 10 were Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing pair Graham Rahal (#15 Honda) and Takuma Sato (#30 Honda), Simon Pagenaud (#22 Team Penske Chevrolet), and Marco Andretti (#98 Andretti-Herta w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda), the latter two of whom had pitted early on Sunday.
Rossi finished 11th having attempted a two-stop (slick tyre) strategy and also spun his #27 Andretti Autosport Honda late in the race.
Will Power aquaplaned the #12 Team Penske Chevrolet into the pit wall on Sunday and finished well down the order.
Newgarden has taken over the series lead from Rossi, with most of the field now heading to Indianapolis for testing on the oval from April 30-May 2.
The next race weekend is the IndyCar Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course on May 11-12.
Race results: Barber Motorsports Park
|Pos||Num||Driver||C/E/T||Race time/Split||Pit stops||Status||Grid pos|
|4||6||Robert Wickens (R)||D/H/F||+17.6794||4||Running||10|
|12||4||Matheus Leist (R)||D/C/F||+57.9291||6||Running||21|
|13||26||Zach Veach (R)||D/H/F||+1:05.9298||4||Running||11|
|14||20||Jordan King (R)||D/C/F||+1:20.0118||5||Running||19|
|15||21||Spencer Pigot||D/C/F||+1 lap||5||Running||17|
|16||32||Rene Binder (R)||D/C/F||+2 laps||5||Running||22|
|17||88||Gabby Chaves||D/C/F||+2 laps||6||Running||20|
|18||14||Tony Kanaan||D/C/F||+2 laps||7||Running||23|
|19||19||Zachary Claman DeMelo (R)||D/H/F||+2 laps||5||Running||16|
|20||10||Ed Jones||D/H/F||+18 laps||4||Mechanical||12|
|21||12||Will Power||D/C/F||+29 laps||2||Off Course||2|
|22||59||Max Chilton||D/C/F||+48 laps||4||Mechanical||13|
|23||23||Charlie Kimball||D/C/F||+72 laps||0||Contact||14|
(C)hassis: D=Dallara | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)yre: F=Firestone
Note: Extra two pit stops for red flags for most drivers
|8||Robert Wickens (R)||97|
|13||Zach Veach (R)||77|
|18||Matheus Leist (R)||51|
|21||Jordan King (R)||38|
|22||Zachary Claman DeMelo (R)||31|
|24||Jack Harvey (R)||25|
|25||Kyle Kaiser (R)||23|
|26||Rene Binder (R)||22|
|27||Pietro Fittipaldi (R)||7|