As IndyCar teams, drivers and fans – including a number of our more intrepid followers – make their way south for a race weekend outside Birmingham, a serious question arises. When it comes to vacation destinations, obviously there are a helluva lot better options than central Alabama. For example, almost anywhere else – save for Detroit. So what’s the attraction, we wonder? It can’t be the statuary.
Photo from the web
Nor is it likely to be the racing, which takes us to our special prediction for this purpose-built motorbike track. Don’t expect cautions to free viewers from monotony jail like at Long Beach, as the wide open spaces of Barber are almost always amenable to clean, green flag racing. Translation – a single file procession at interstate speeds. See Pags’ win from pole in 2016 for proof. Want more evidence? IndyCar’s last three at the quirky facility have averaged fewer than two cautions per race, although unusually 2014 saw five yellows. Talk about flighty!
Pick for pole is positively Penske, as it’s predictably their plunder. The Cap’n’s crew have purloined the last four in a row at BMSP, with Helio, Pags and Power all getting in on the action. RHR of recent nose-cam fame started on point for AA in ’13, but that’s it. Furthermore, at the test in March a semi-retired Helio came in third behind Newgarden and Power in a Penske sweep. All this – and more! – makes them a sure bet for P1 Saturday. On a lark we’ll go with Newkid absconding with only the third pole of his career.
First out of the race will be no one, as has been the case the last three years running. For drivers, there’s no escaping this one – not even for the awful Austrian, Rene Binder. Runoff areas outnumber passing zones twenty to one at the undulating course, with gravel pits galore. Even when one slips off track, it’s usually possible to get running again. As a consequence DNFs are all but unheard of – as rare as Ol’ Miss fans in Tide country. Problem is, this tediously tends toward strung out, strategic, fuel saving racing that may well send fans running for the exits.
Biggest surprise of the race will be Zach Veach’s performance, if anyone’s still in the dark about AA’s rookie of the year candidate. The diminutive 23 year old had a breakout race at Long Beach finishing fourth – and ahead of Marco – in just his fifth career start. Once done with racing, he can look forward to a second career as son of Dracula in Hollywood. Following his performance last Sunday, the tiny, pallid creature of the night’ll surely be thirsty for more.
Photo from indystar.com
Sorry fans, but three straight entertaining races just isn’t in the offing – and that’s being charitable counting Long Beach. Winner of two of the last three at his home track including last year, Newgarden‘ll leave town with a record setting third win. The man’s impeccable down south and besides, his team wins there an incredible 75% of the time. Plus, Newkid’s simply white hot. Like the ads, Barber’s enough to have other teams asking, “wanna getaway?”