Reigning IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay has broken Team Penske’s stranglehold at the Barber Motorsports Park circuit to claim a narrow victory in the second race of the 2013 season, held last weekend.
The Andretti Autosports driver took the lead in the final 15 laps of the 90-lap race to win by just 0.6 seconds.
Hélio Castroneves had looked on course to continue Team Penske’s domination of the Alabama race and looked on track to give the team its fourth win on the trot here, until Hunter-Reay came storming through.
Chip Ganassi driver Scott Dixon followed suit to finish in second place by just 0.6 seconds – yet again here – while Castroneves rounded out the podium positions as he slipped to third in an entertaining race.
Charlie Kimball backed up his top-six qualifying performing to finish in fourth place for Chip Ganassi, while race favourite Will Power could only manage fifth, ultimately failing in his gamble to run a two-stop strategy while most of the field pitted three times.
Power had plenty of drama in the race, squandering his good qualifying position by running wide and dropping seven places on a frantic opening lap. Running out of place necessitated a switch to a two-stop race, and his cause was not helped by being forced to run his engine lean due to the absence of safety car interruptions mid-race. He spluttered to a halt moments after crossing the finish line, his fuel tank having run completely dry.
The Canadian was eliminated on the opening lap, suffering damage to a wheel after contact with Oriol Servia and Graham Rahal.
Former champion Dario Franchitti registered back-to-back DNFs, retiring his Chip Ganassi Honda with a broken header. The result was all the more disappointing after he staged a solid charge through the field to run comfortably inside the top-ten, having started from a lowly seventeenth on the grid.
But all eyes were on Hunter-Reay, who rocketed up to third overall in the Drivers’ Championship standings, trailing Castroneves and Dixon in the early points race.
The field now packs up and heads west to California to contest the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 21.
2013 IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama Final Classification (90 laps):
|No.||Driver||Entry / Team||Laps||Result|
|1.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||90||1:52:04.5450|
|2.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||90||+ 0.6363|
|3.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske – Chevrolet||90||+ 17.6821|
|4.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||90||+ 20.6166|
|5.||Will Power||Team Penske – Chevrolet||90||+ 26.6469|
|6.||Simon Pagenaud||SPH – Honda09||90||+ 27.2995|
|7.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||90||+ 27.7175|
|8.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||90||+ 30.5504|
|9.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda||90||+ 41.1029|
|10.||Tristan Vautier||SPH – Honda||90||+ 50.6449|
|11.||Alex Tagliani||Barracuda Racing – Honda||90||+ 59.0458|
|12.||E.J. Viso||Team Venzuela – Chevrolet||90||+ 1:01.4334|
|13.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||90||+ 1:01.6834|
|14.||Takuma Sato||AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda||90||+ 1:03.1151|
|15.||Oriol Servià||Panther / D&R – Chevrolet||90||+ 1:03.1495|
|16.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||90||+ 1:07.6880|
|17.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing – Chevrolet||90||+ 1:09.7447|
|18.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||90||+ 1:09.9130|
|19.||AJ Allmendinger||Team Penske – Chevrolet||90||+ 1:11.0558|
|20.||Sebastián Saavedra||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||90||+ 1:11.6523|
|21.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||90||+ 1:14.0385|
|22.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet||89||+ 1 lap|
|23.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||86||+ 4 laps|
|DNF.||Ana Beatriz||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||65||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||42||Mechanical|
|DNF.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||3||Accident|