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No one saw it coming at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday, not even first time race winner Josef Newgarden himself. “It’s just been such a long time coming trying to do this. I can’t believe now is when it happened.” Newgarden wasn’t the only one who was pleasantly surprised. After the most exciting and entertaining race in months, it soon became clear there was an even bigger story that had just unfolded beyond a successful event. The fourth year driver’s triumph for his fledgling, freshly merged team is still reverberating throughout the IndyCar paddock.
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As truly deserving as Newgarden and CFH Racing were of the win, the race outside Birmingham offered drama and intense action throughout the field. Three wide racing, aggressive passes and minimal mistakes made it the most enjoyable race in recent memory. New faces at the top of the podium – highly thought of American faces, at that – made for an especially refreshing change. There’s no denying IndyCar nailed it at Barber.
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Like all epic IndyCar races, it had something for everyone. Graham Rahal drove like he was possessed by Ray Harroun in his charge to second. It was Graham’s best finish since Detroit last year. Rahal dished out can’t miss viewing with his late race dash through the field, banging Power out of the way and passing Dixon from third like he’d done it a thousand times before. Perhaps like Newgarden’s race result, Rahal’s strong showing is a harbinger of better things to come.
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Following a string of so-so to downright dismal, swamp-like races the racing Gods smiled upon the series and allowed for a nearly perfect race on a dry, sunny day. The paying fans and television viewers alike got their money’s worth – and more – from the dramatic show IndyCar put on in ‘Bama. It was IndyCar at its best, a tremendous race that wasn’t contrived, delayed or drawn out like another series. It was so exquisitely good that it almost makes up for Brazil’s rather rude cancellation several weeks ago. And NOLA. We’re fervently hoping the positive trends continue for all involved and IndyCar nails it again, starting next weekend in Indianapolis.