The Frontstretch: IndyCar In Depth: Honda Grand Prix Of Alabama by Matt Stallknecht -- Friday April 5, 2013

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IndyCar In Depth: Honda Grand Prix Of Alabama

Matt Stallknecht · Friday April 5, 2013

 

What’s News?

The IZOD IndyCar Series heads to Birmingham’s Barber Motorsports Park this weekend for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama. Coming off a stunning maiden victory two weeks ago in St. Petersburg, points leader James Hinchcliffe enters the event with high hopes and increased expectations. He’ll look to repeat this weekend. In terms of off-track news, it was a relatively quiet Easter break for the stars and cars of IndyCar. Dale Coyne Racing did announce that driver Ana Beatriz will be piloting the #18 machine in an expanded capacity this season, as she will pilot the car all the way through Indianapolis. In other off-track news, AJ Foyt Racing announced that they have signed American F1 hopeful Conor Daly for a one-off ride in the Indianapolis 500.

Track Preview: Barber Motorsports Park

Located in the picturesque eastern outskirts of Birmingham, AL, Barber Motorsports Park is a 16 turn, 2.38 mile traditional road course. Barber is an extremely fast and windy road course that is something of a departure from the typical stop and start street courses that IndyCar fans of today are used to. Passing is easy to accomplish here and you can expect to see lots of it during the race. Three IndyCar races have been held at Barber over the years, the first being a race in 2010 won by Helio Castroneves. Will Power has dominated at the Alabama facility as of late, winning both the 2011 and 2012 events and leading a grand total of 112 laps across the two races.

What’s the Points (Driver Standings):

James Hinchcliffe has an eight point advantage over second place Helio Castroneves heading into the weekend. Hinchcliffe’s Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti sits third in series points, 16 points out of the lead. KV Racing Technology’s Tony Kanaan sits 4th in the series standings, while Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon rounds out the top 5.

What’s the Points (Engine Manufacturers):

Chevrolet took first place honors in St. Petersburg courtesy of James Hinchcliffe, and took home 9 points in the process. Honda’s goes into Barber 3 points behind rival Chevrolet.

Tristan Vautier made quite an impression in St. Petersburg and has made himself one to watch for 2013 in IndyCar.

Featured Driver: Tristan Vautier

Rookie Tristan Vautier turned many heads in the IndyCar world two weeks ago after his stunning pace in qualifying for the race in St. Petersburg. Vautier shocked many by placing in the Fast 6 in his first ever IndyCar qualifying event. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that Vautier ran in the top 5 for much of the actual race before being sidelined due to mechanical woes. Nonetheless, Vautier, the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Series champion, already appears to be a step ahead of the curve in his first season in the big leagues of open-wheel racing, and he will certainly be one to watch as the season pushes forward.

Any Other News: Teams will be announcing their Indianapolis 500 plans over these next few weeks as they gear up for the month of May. Be on the lookout for team/driver/sponsor combination announcements as teams get ready for the big race.

Upcoming: The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is the next stop after Barber on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, and it is arguably the most prestigious street race on the schedule. The Long Beach event will take place on April 27th and will be covered live on both the NBC Sports Network (for Television) and Sirius/XM Channel 211 (for Radio).

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