Barber Race Review: Golden Showers Edition

Photo from indycar.com

Showers of various sorts were the major current flowing through Barber the last couple days and an odd Monday finish left fans feeling less than quenched. The weekend was a mess for most, although the heavy showers proved golden for Josef Newgarden, winning for the third time on his home track.

Pouring rain Sunday halted the race after 23 laps, run largely under caution or at caution speeds. Not one but two red flags also appeared, finally delivering the drenched drivers from their soaked cars. Safety was the concern as visibility was nearly non-existent, although that probably should have been clear after the first few laps rather than requiring multiple red flags.

Photo from indycar.com

A single file start under caution proved anticlimactic, or would have if anyone could have seen it. The race went green on the second lap and cars tiptoed around the near constant corners, sliding as they went. The plumes they emitted made viewing – much less driving – extremely difficult.

Marco spun out on the second green flag lap, nearly hitting oncoming traffic a couple of times before finally rejoining the fray. Unfazed by the showers, Newkid opened up a sizable lead over Power, Bourdais, RHR and Dixon as Hinchcliffe dropped back. The rains intensified by lap ten as pit stops commenced. Charlie Kimball left the track and nosed into the wall, bringing out the second caution. First out again, he later blamed Ed Jones for hitting him from behind, although Jones continued with no apparent damage. Like the rest of the action, it was hard to make it out.

Photo from indycar.com

Pags and a few others in the rear gambled and pitted, which would prove to be a mistake after the race was stopped and teams were allowed to add fuel before Monday’s resumption. On the lap 16 restart, Newgarden very nearly lost it getting loose, while his teammate Mad Will Power did, slamming into the wall after narrowly missing Dixon as he spun. It ended Will’s day to almost no one’s chagrin, as he’s never happy about any race under any conditions – unless he wins. Power again made that abundantly clear, bitching and moaning during his interview as usual. This brought out the third caution which effectively ended the day’s competition as rain claimed the track.

Postponed until Monday due to safety concerns, reportedly passes were taking place on track unbeknownst to the drivers involved due to lack of visibility. Happily the waterlogged broadcast didn’t conclude before Hinch humorously announced that he’d pissed himself while waiting in his golden chariot.

Photo from indycar.com

A timed race of an hour and fifteen minutes was announced Monday morning, but at least the sun was out. Max “Paris” Chilton stopped on track requiring a tow before the action even started under caution with Newgarden leading, just as he had every lap to that point. Bourdais, Hunter-Reay, Rossi and Hinch filled out the top five.

Dale Coyne’s rookie Canuck Zach DeMelo flew around Rahal and then Pags, looking briefly racy before Rahal retook the spot. In one of the more exciting moments of the race, ECR’s Spencer Pigot tangled with the hard charging DeMelo, the two banging and Pigot pushing DeMelo off course, their cars careening through three corners. Incredibly both were able to continue relatively unscathed.

Newkid, Rossi and other leaders pitted under green with about forty minutes remaining as the sun continued to dry out the track. Still in second, Bourdais stayed out longer deploying a wily DCR strategy that nearly won him the race. After the reshuffle and with thirty five to go, Newgarden enjoyed a twenty second lead over Bourdais and RHR in their Hondas, though SeBass stretched his run pretty far and Dixon went even longer.

As the lead grew to twenty seven seconds – enough time for Newgarden to pit and still remain in the lead – rain showers returned. Dixon made a save while passing slower traffic and continued to steadily gain on the leaders. With fourteen minutes to go, Newkid pitted for rain tires, handing Bourdais the lead. Hunter-Reay, also still on slicks, got around Josef for second as the rain intensified. This latest round of showers also affected Hinch, as he stopped for rain tires followed quickly by RHR. Bourdais began slowing as he and Dixon were among the last still on slicks.

Photo from indycar.com

Rossi ran off track but managed to return without causing a yellow, as did others. Finally Dixon stopped for rain tires, then Bourdais had to, effectively giving the race to Newgarden who reclaimed a comfortable lead in a heavy downpour with seven minutes to go. In a terrifying moment for Team Penske, Newkid’s right rear slipped perilously off course entering a turn causing him to nearly lose it, similar to Sunday. The Tennessean kept it (mostly) on course and continued, not to be denied his third triumph at the track in four years.

In a rare highlight of hard racing, Dixon and Bourdais battled side by side for position right to the checkered flag, the Frenchman edging Dixie out for fifth. But SeBass was visibly deflated afterwards, knowing he might have won if not for the final round of rain. Undaunted by Sunday’s golden showers or even Monday’s, Hinch rebounded to a podium finish behind AA’s Hunter-Reay. It was a soggy Newgarden’s day yet again however, going back to back at Barber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Barber Race Review: Golden Showers Edition

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