No. 893
April 19, 2017

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The Line


APRIL 26, 2017

(Photo by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)
Twenty-six-year-old Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Team Penske Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevrolet) celebrates with fans after delivering his first win as a driver for Roger Penske in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America's First at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday. Newgarden crossed the finish line 1.0495 seconds ahead of Scott Dixon (No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing NTT Data Honda) on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn permanent road course. Newgarden took the lead for the first and only time on Lap 77 when teammate Will Power (No. 12 Team Penske Verizon Chevrolet), who was comfortably in front most of the race, was forced to pit with a punctured left rear tire. "This is a good one to have, I think we earned it," said Newgarden, who started the race seventh. "This was a great car this weekend. We were on it. I think it was shaping up to be a really great battle for me, Dixon and Will, and it ended just being between Dixon and me. I feel bad for Will. I wish he could have been in that with us, but sometimes that's the way it rolls." Dixon's second-place finish was his fifth at Barber and the 34th time in his Indy car career, tying Michael Andretti for fourth all time. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has reached the podium seven times in the eight races on the Alabama track but never won. Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 Team Penske Menards Chevrolet) finished third, Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Team Penske AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet) was fourth, and Alexander Rossi (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda) had a strong run into fifth from back in 18th on the grid, gaining the most positions from start to finish of any driver.
(Photo by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)
Scott Dixon finished second - again - at Barber Motorsports Park. It was his fifth runner-up finish at Barber and the 34th time he has finished second in his Indy car career, tying Michael Andretti for fourth all time.
(Photo by Christopher Owens/INDYCAR)
Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 Team Penske Menards Chevrolet), shown here in Turn 2 at Barber Motorsports Park, came through to finish third. Team Penske machines finished 1st, 3rd, 4th and 14th (Will Power's final result after his tire puncture). It was Team Penske's - and Chevrolet's - first win of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar season.
(Photo by Christopher Owens/INDYCAR)
Editor-In-Chief's Note: The big news at Barber Motorsports Park last weekend was the appearance of two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, which came hard on the heels of the stunning news that he would forego the Monaco Grand Prix - the most glamorous race on the F1 calendar - to compete at the Indianapolis 500 in a deal between Team McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport. Other F1 drivers have competed at The Speedway - and won (Jim Clark, Graham Hill, etc.) - but this will mark the first time that a top F1 driver has stepped away from the series and skipped a race in the middle of the season in order to chase a win in the "500." It has been a dream of Alonso's to win the "big three" events in motor racing - the Grand Prix of Monaco (which he has won twice), the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans - and since the McLaren-Honda machines have been piss-poor and noncompetitive in F1, and since the new executive director of the McLaren Technology Group is Zak Brown, an American, the "what if" turned into a "why not?" and here comes Alonso to The Speedway. Gil de Ferran is being brought in by Andretti Autosport to assist in the transition for Alonso, but in a press conference at Barber Motorsport Park over the weekend, Fernando sounded excited to get going. “I will learn, you know, starting from zero, as a rookie or even less than a rookie May 3 (his first test session at Indy), but I’m confident that we will be ready,” Alonso said. At its most fundamental, Alonso's decision came about because he is a racer through and through, and he's always wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500. And it's nice to see him live out his dream while he's still in F1 and not after. “I want to be the most complete driver in the world and the best driver in the world, and I want to win all the series in different cars with different driving techniques,” he said. “If I want to do that, I need to win it. And if it’s not this year, we will plan it for the next attempt.” Well said, Fernando. -PMD (Read more about Fernando Alonso's Indy adventure in this week's "Fumes." -WG)
(Audi Sport)
Mattias Ekström (No. 1 EKS Audi S1 RX quattro) beat nine-time Rally World Champion Sébastien Loeb in the second round of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship 2017 in Montalegre, Portugal. Johan Kristoffersson (No. 3 PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Volkswagen Polo) finished third. “We were not the quickest for a long time here this weekend,” admitted the overjoyed Ekström after the finale. “But we never give up. In the end is was one of the most hard fought wins in my rallycross career.” In the final, the 38-year-old took the lead after making a perfect start. After making a mistake on the last lap, however, a tough battle erupted with Sébastien Loeb, which the Swede ultimately won. With his second victory this season, Ekström extended his lead in the drivers’ championship. In the team classification, EKS sits in second place behind the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team. Watch a video here.