Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Preview Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Preview Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Preview

Round 2 of the 2012 Indycar Series takes place in a vastly different setting to last weekend. For Formula 1 fans with little knowledge of the American open-wheel landscape, the contrast in circuits is a bit like comparing Monaco to Hockenheim.

And as we head into this weekend’s racing activity at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, our resident IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon casts his eye over the field and makes a few predictions of potential heroes and zeroes…

The Circuit

Barber Motorsports Park Circuit Map

Date: 30 March – 01 April
Lap Length: 2.38 miles / 3.83km
Race Lap Record: 1:10.1060, Will Power (Dallara Honda) – 2010
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 Fri 12:30-13:30
Free Practice Session 2 Fri 15:30-16:30
Free Practice Session 3 Sat 08:00-08:20
Qualifying Session Sat 09:40-10:55
Sunday Warm-Up Sun 08:40-09:10
Race (90 laps, 214mi) Sun 13:00-16:00
Past Winners: Will Power (Team Penske Dallara Honda) 2011
Hélio Castroneves (Team Penske Dallara Honda) 2010

Considerably faster and with many changes in elevation through each lap, the layout on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama takes remastering with each visit. The range of sweeping medium to high- speed corners and some of the tightest chicanes on the calendar make no man or woman an expert, and as always, a car set up to ride the circuit as it flows is vital and will be one of the determining factors to seeing the name of the man or woman standing highest on Sunday afternoon.

The Players & Form Guide

2012 IndyCar Series Championship Entry List (Indy Grand Prix of Alabama):

No. Sponsor Entrant Engine Driver
2. IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet Ryan Briscoe AUS
3. Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet Hélio Castroneves BRA
4. US National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet JR Hildebrand USA
5. CITGO / PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet EJ Viso VEN
6. Truecar / Lotus Cars Lotus-Dragon Racing Lotus Katherine Legge (R) GBR
7. SEAT León 1.6T Lotus-Dragon Racing Lotus Sébastien Bourdais FRA
8. Brasil Máquinas KV Racing Technology Chevrolet Rubens Barrichello (R) BRA
9. Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Scott Dixon NZL
10. Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Dario Franchitti GBR
11. GEICO / Mouser / Petropolis KV Racing Technology Chevrolet Tony Kanaan BRA
12. Verizon Wireless Team Penske Chevrolet Will Power AUS
14. ABC Supply AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda Mike Conway GBR
15. Interush / Panasonic Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda Takuma Sato JPN
18. Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Dale Coyne Racing Honda Justin Wilson GBR
19. Boy Scouts of America Dale Coyne Racing Honda James Jakes GBR
20. Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet Ed Carpenter USA
22. Lotus Cars Dreyer & Reinbold Lotus Oriol Servià ESP
26. Royal Crown Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet Marco Andretti USA
27. Andretti Autosport Chevrolet James Hinchcliffe CAN
28. DHL / Sun Drop Andretti Autosport Chevrolet Ryan Hunter-Reay USA
38. TBC Retail Group Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Graham Rahal USA
67. TBA Sarah Fisher Hartman Honda Josef Newgarden (R) USA
77. Hewlett Packard Schmidt Hamilton Honda Simon Pagenaud (R) FRA
78. Entergy / Lotus Cars Lotus-HVM Racing Lotus Simona de Silvestro SUI
83. Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Charlie Kimball USA
98. Barracuda Networks Lotus-BHA Lotus Alex Tagliani CAN

 (R) Denotes ‘Rookie Class’ driver. Entry list is subject to final confirmation.

Team Penske took first line honours last weekend in St Petersburg, however the Barber Motorsports layout is chalk and cheese and it is still far too early to be considering any man, woman or team as championship favourites yet.

Will Power and Dario Franchitti both under-performed in the race at St Pete last weekend, the latter more than anyone expected. What steps have they taken to get a better grip of their machinery for this week?

Meanwhile, last week’s winner – Hélio Castroneves – won the first event at this circuit in its current form back in 2010, the same year in which Castroneves last achieved successive victories in Kentucky and Motegi of that year. Can he do the double again? If so, it will be interesting to see which fence he decides to climb, as there are few to none to be found anywhere near the racing circuit and it will require a bit of an off-track excursion to find one.

Scott Dixon always being in the hunt is a known fact. However the No 9 Ganassi appeared twitchy and difficult to control last week – traits that a methodical driver like Dixon does not like. How comfortable will he be with the car this week?

Matthew Lennon
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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.