2020 Race Season From the Track Honda Grand Prix of Alabama NTT IndyCar Series

What to watch for in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Story Credit: Jared DePouw
Photo Credit: Jared DePouw

Team Penske vs The Field

It would appear that Barber Motorsports Park is the unofficial home of Team Penske, they have won each of the last 3 races here. The last time someone not from Team Penske won the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was in 2015 by then-CFH Racing driver Josef Newgarden. Newgarden, a three-time winner at Barber, has won the last two races here for Team Penske.

All three Team Penske drivers are former winners at Barber Motorsports Park
All three Team Penske drivers are former winners at Barber Motorsports Park

This could be the year that another team, especially a Honda team, wins the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. The Top 6 cars in Friday practice are all Honda’s, the first Chevy on the speed chart is Spencer Pigot in 7th. You must go all the way down to 12th before you find the first Penske driver (Will Power)

Weather Factors?

It’s not often that rain plays a factor into a race weekend, but for some reason Barber Motorsports Park seems to attract rain. Last year saw heavy rain during the race, leading to a lengthy red flag on Lap 19. So far this weekend, the rain has held off, but forecasts are showing about a 50% chance of rain Saturday & Sunday so keep an eye out as rain has a major impact on racing.

Last year at Belle Isle Firestone introduced a new rain tire, bringing asymmetrical tread patterns for the first time ever. While the new rain tires haven’t seen much action since their debut, drivers have had nothing but positive things to say about it in their limited experience.

Close up of a Firestone Rain Tire
Close up of a Firestone Rain Tire

Rookies Rising

Two weeks ago, Colton Herta became the youngest Indy car race winner in history. Behind him is one of the best crops of rookie drivers in a long time. Patricio O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Santino Ferrucci, and Marcus Ericsson all have shown flashes of greatness in the first two races.

Colton Herta answers questions after Practice #2
Colton Herta answers questions after Practice #2

Last year in Indy Lights, O’Ward won both doubleheader races at Barber so watch out for the young Mexican driver to move his way to the front on Sunday. But watch out for the other rookies, both Herta and Ferrucci finished in the Top 3 in the two Friday practice sessions.

Pato O'Ward drives down pit lane during practice
Pato O’Ward drives down pit lane during practice
Jared DePouw
Jared is the founder of RealOpenWheel.com but works as a small business accountant. He also officiates high school football and lacrosse in his free time.