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Honda Indy Alabama Grand Prix

Honda Indy Alabama Grand Prix

It’s time for the permanent first road race of the season as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES takes the green flag today in the Alabama Honda Indy Grand Prix presented by AmFirst at Barber Motorsports Park.

A sold-out crowd will pack the 17-turn, 2.3-mile racetrack nestled in the naturally wooded hills of Birmingham, Alabama. It marks the second consecutive year that Barber has had a sold-out race day as race fans from the south east of the country show their passion for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

SEE: Spotter Guide

The action at Barber kicks off at 10:55 a.m. ET with the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama, live on Peacock Premium and INDYCAR Radio Network. Next, the 26-car NTT INDYCAR SERIES field springs into action for the Alabama Honda Indy Grand Prix presented by AmFirst at 1 p.m. ET, live on NBC and INDYCAR Radio Network. You can follow live radio broadcasts on network partners, SiriusXM 160, INDYCAR.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR app, powered by NTT DATA.

Firestone will supply over 1,500 race tires this weekend. Both the primary and alternate tires feature the same construction as last year, combined with a new compound designed to improve durability for more lap-to-lap consistency. Firestone assigns six sets of primary (black) tires, four sets of alternate (red) tires and five sets of wet tires (grey).

Here’s what you need to know to prepare for today’s action:

Who can weather the storm?

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES field faces a very interesting race today as the weather seems to be able to play an important factor in the race.

The weather forecast predicts about a 50 percent chance of rain for Birmingham around the time the green flag waves at 1:15 p.m. (ET). As the afternoon progresses, the chance of rain decreases. The temperature is expected to be in the high 70s.

That throws several keys into the Race Day plan.

First and foremost, a fully wet race opens the door for strategy to play a big role. How and when teams choose to use wet tires or primary/alternative tires can change pit sequences. There are also the risk takers who will try to compete on a damp track with slippery tires to find more speed. Moral of the story: It’s a cat-and-mouse game not to be missed.

Not to mention that if it rains during the Honda Indy Alabama Grand Prix presented by AmFirst, it will be the first fully wet NTT INDYCAR SERIES in nearly three years. The last fully wet race was Race 1 of the Detroit doubleheader in 2019, won by Josef Newgarden. It was also the second consecutive race on a completely wet road/street track, as the GMR Grand Prix was held in the rain the previous month. Simon Pagenaud won that race.

In addition, there has never been a fully wet NTT INDYCAR SERIES race since the aeroscreen debuted on race cars, bringing a new experience to the entire field.

With so many challenges potentially thrown onto the field of 26 cars, today’s race could just be one of attrition. The driver and team that can weather the storm literally and figuratively will be in Victory Circle later this afternoon.

Start at the front, stay at the front

Only twice in the 11 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at Barber Motorsports Park has the winner started outside the top five. That happened in 2012 when Will Power won from ninth on the grid and 2017 when Newgarden won from seventh on the grid. Three of the last five races, and five in total, have been won from the pole.

If you like even weirder stats, with the winner always coming from a top-10 starting place, the race has never been won by anyone starting in an even position. First place has five wins and third place has three wins, while the fifth, seventh and ninth place grids each have one win.

That means pole sitter Rinus VeeKay is the one to watch. Tip your hat to third-place starter Alex Palou, with that starting position as the second most successful on the 17-turn, 2.3-mile track as you put the finishing touches on your INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge presented by the Firestone team. That’s exactly where Palou started with Barber last year as he rode to his first win of his career.

Only the best beat hairdresser

Barber Motorsports Park has an 80-foot vertical drop that challenges NTT INDYCAR SERIES athletes like no other trail on the track. In the 11 races on the track, nestled in several naturally wooded and grass-covered banks, the winning roster of drivers is an exclusive club of NTT INDYCAR SERIES champions of Indianapolis 500, presented by Gainbridge winners.

Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Takuma Sato and Alex Palou have each visited Victory Circle on the track. Everyone except Hunter-Reay joins today’s race, featuring five former INDYCAR SERIES champions (Power, Scott Dixon, Newgarden, Pagenaud and Palou) and six former Indy 500 winners (Alexander Rossi, Power, Dixon, Pagenaud, Castroneves , Sato) .

Don’t be surprised if today’s winner comes from this group of drivers.

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