Hitting the Apex: Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix

IndyCar comes to road courses for the first time this season! ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at this weekend’s action at the Barber Motorsports Park.

Eline Luna

April 27, 2024

This weekend, the 2024 IndyCar season continues with its third points-paying round at Barber Motorsports Park. The track was opened in 2003 and has hosted IndyCar since 2010. This will be the first road-course race of the season as both St. Petersburg and Long Beach were raced on a street track. This will be the last race before the Month of May kicks off with a race at the IMS street course, Indy 500 Qualifying, and the Indianapolis 500. 

Last year, Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin took the win in front of Romain Grosjean who was followed by Will Power. The race was relatively quiet with only one caution when Sting Ray Robb stalled at Turn 9. This has not always been the case, for example, in 2021 eight cars were damaged when Josef Newgarden lost control at Turn 4. 

2023 winner Scott McLaughlin (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

The 17-turn track features several elevation changes and has a great variety of corners. Some corners are high-speed and high-commitment while corners such as Turn 5 are low-speed and tight. This variation makes set-up extremely difficult but also extremely important.

 

 

What to look out for?

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden initially led the championship after Long Beach as he won the opening race at St. Petersburg. However, IndyCar found Team Penske in violation of the Push to Pass regulations before the weekend started in Long Beach and disqualified Newgarden and McLaughlin, as well as a 10-point penalty for Power. Newgarden now drops to 11th in the championship, with Pato O’Ward inheriting the win at St. Petersburg. After all penalties applied, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon became the championship leader and leads by 2 points over Andretti’s Colton Herta. 

Last time out at Long Beach, Josef Newgarden challenged Scott Dixon for the win in the ending stages. But Newgarden ultimately lost out when Andretti’s Colton Herta hit him in the back, dropping Newgarden down to 4th. The disqualification and the upset at Long Beach is sure to fire Newgarden up for a possible win at Barber. 

Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

Josef Newgarden took his first-ever IndyCar victory at Barber Motorsports Park in 2015 and has the record for most wins at the track. Scott Dixon has never won at the track before but has finished on the podium countless times. A first victory at the track could be in the cards for him. Newgarden’s teammate, Will Power has won at the track twice and has four pole positions at the venue.

Théo Pourchaire, who replaced an injured David Malukas, stays with Arrow McLaren for a second race after an impressive debut last time out at Long Beach where he finished 11th. He was the highest climber on the grid and was right on pace with his teammates despite the difficult street track. Pourchaire will have the chance to race in more familiar conditions at Barber Motorsports Park as the road course will be more similar to what he’s used to in Europe.

 

 

Past Winners

2023: Scott McLaughlin 

2022: Pato O’Ward

2021: Álex Palou

Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

Race Information

  • Race Length: 90 Laps | 207 Miles
  • Turns: 17
  • Track Length: 2.38 miles (3.83 km)
  • Most Wins: Josef Newgarden (3)
  • Lap record: 1:06.8182 (Pato O’Ward, 2021)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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